On Platform Coops: What the Heck Is a Peer? and a Community?
As I anticipated in the first post, I think that “Ours to Hack and to Own” is the best book out there to understand the emerging field of Platform Coops, and yet, I missed some important issues. Maybe this is precisely the virtue of the book: it reflects both the advancements and the weaknesses of this recent and growing movement.
The first problem I encounter is pervasive in all the writing out there on the sharing/collaborative economy and p2p theory: the lack of a clear and operational definition of what a peer is and what a community is. The truth is that we may need a “taxonomy” of peers and communities, since we call peers and communities in a wide range of different realities.
How do we recognize someone as a peer? I can be tempted, as we do often colloquially, to define my peer in terms of characteristics of the person (i.e. same hierarchical position, same knowledge, same skills, same values, etc.). But homogeneity is not what we find in peer relationships out there. Actually, we find more value in diversity. A peer is better understood not as someone that is like you, but as someone that you like. And if we think about organizations, as someone you would like to do things with.