In researching p2p theory I've become attached to the heuristic provided by Michel Bauwens: p2p relationality is characterized by peer production, peer governance, and peer property. I've been looking around for examples in academia, particularly in Rhetoric and Composition, that demonstrate these three qualities, and they're a lot harder to come by than I thought.
A previous post appraises a few recent and on-going projects in R/C that get at some of the underlying values, but I'm curious to what extent peer governance and peer property exist in academia. What has peer governance looked like in Rhetoric and Composition? Does, or how does, it come into organizations like Cs, RSA, ATTW, or CWPA? How does governance play out within institutions? Within departments? Within programs? While ideas for teaching and research circulate pointing toward these values, how are we constrained at various levels by particular people (and in another sense by non-human actors, e.g., rules, infrastructures, access, etc.)?
When we rise questions about production, governance, and property outside software development, constraints and affordances become increasingly complex. It makes me wonder if Bauwens is a bit naive about p2p software development. (I most certainly am.)
What about the complexities of working toward these values in an undergraduate classroom? I've begun experimenting with different structures for service projects in an attempt to tease out the nuances and differences between client/server production and peer production.
In ENGL 309 students work with two different partners, the Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL) and Homestead Consulting Services. The OWL Project was highly structured, and I taught students a particular design process that included deliverables as benchmarks throughout (e.g., a mood board, a design brief, a number of final products incorporating a logo design, and presentation materials). Additionally, students competed with one another to win the "contract". In the second project, the whole class is working together to create one brochure with a client. In an early discussion (and with a lot of prompting) students broke the class into teams: coordinators, researchers, writers, designers, and presenters. Students chose their teams, and they were tasked with creating a list of the what their groups needed to contribute to the project, when their groups would complete said work, and what their individual responsibilities were. The coordinators worked among the groups to ensure that information and work flow where and when its needed. In order to accomplish this work, they created a weekly newsletter to circulate pertinent information to the whole class, and they wrote a lot of emails keeping people on task.
[When presenting on p2p theory at WIDE-EMU I referenced the Homestead CS project's structure when I defined service-learning as writing as a community. To be honest, that presentation was a mess, even messier than this post, but it helped me start to break out of Bauwens' framework. At WIDE-EMU, I struggled to break away from political economy to address p2p theory and network topologies. I ran out of time in terms of writing out my conference paper, and I'm trying to move away from reading papers at conferences. But, winging it didn't work. In any case, one thing that I wasn't able to get across relates to how writing as community does something decidedly different than the frameworks for understanding service described by Tom Deans (writing about, for, or with community). Writing as community attempts to reflect the ordinary hero idea of politics as everyday action. Deans' argument that writing with community relies on notions of good citizenship, particularly concepts of good citizenship that connect to modernist institutions and relationships.]
Another fragment: in ENGL 421 a student writing about software Version Management Systems addresses how p2p VSMs are superior to client/server versions. Client/server versions required that the server store every iteration of the system, which created incredible demands for storage. I'm not sure I entirely understood the implications of the what the student wrote about, but it did remind me that I need to read more about actual p2p architecture.