Towards a (De)centralization-Based Typology of Peer Production

Melanie Dulong de Rosnay, Francesca Musiani


Online peer-production platforms facilitate the coordination of creative work and services. Generally considered as empowering participatory tools and a source of common good, they can also be, however, alienating instruments of digital labour. This paper proposes a typology of peer-production platforms, based on the centralization/decentralization levels of several of their design features. Between commons-based peer-production and crowdsourced, user-generated content “enclosed” by corporations, a wide range of models combine different social, political, technical and economic arrangements. This combined analysis of the level of (de)centralization of platform features provides information on emancipation capabilities in a more granular way than a market-based qualification of platforms, based on the nature of ownership or business models only. The five selected features of the proposed typology are: ownership of means of production, technical architecture/design, social organization/governance of work patterns, ownership of the peer-produced resource, and value of the output.


Peer production; P2P; Platforms; Distributed Architectures; Ownership; Governance; Design; Copyright; Commons

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