Commons-Based Peer Production and Artistic Expression in Greece

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Full reference: Kostakis, V. & Drechsler, W. (Forthcoming). Commons-based peer production and artistic expression: Two cases from Greece. New Media & Society.

Summary

This essay narrates, from a creator-observation perspective, the production of two works of fiction, a book of short stories and a play, based on the principles and technologies of Commons-based peer production (CBPP). This is potentially interesting from both the CBPP and the literary perspective. Even though both seem well-matched by their prima facie lack of profit orientation, CBPP case studies rarely deal with fiction, and regarding plays, artistic creativity is still mostly associated with one, maybe two. After tracing and analysing the CBPP phenomenon, the case studies show concretely the fate of the specific projects as well as how, nowadays, people can involve in collaborative artistic projects inspired and catalysed by Commons-oriented principles and technologies.

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Apart from the 19th-century legacies of the 'heroic creator' that may still make many in the literary world automatically ill-disposed towards more collective production of art – even 'production' may be a pejorative word in this context – can CBPP really lead to serious results, rather than haphazard experimentations and fashionista embarrassments? Is there a business model in the non-business framework of the Commons base? Will presses and publishers 'buy in'; will people buy or at least watch, read, listen, download? These are the initial questions when we accost the still-new and still-disruptive world of CBPP in artistic creation, especially in traditional genres such as plays and books (rather than in, say, concept or performance art). Trying to answer the questions may result in the kind of potentially fruitful discourse that is much needed by both 'sides', literature and CBPP.

What these case studies, limited though they naturally are, may show – although we say this from the creator’s point of view – is that the answer to all these questions is, or at least has been in our case and therefore principally can be, a 'yes'. We can use CBPP for artistic production that works, that is successful, for all stakeholders – the creators, the promoters and distributors, and the audience – because in our cases, their expectations, their wants were at least fulfilled and perhaps, we hope, exceeded. Maybe – we would say probably – this was even more the case than in a traditional framework, precisely because CBPP and artistic creation are not primarily geared towards the maximisation of personal financial profit, and thus do form a logical match. Whether this is 'the future' of artistic creation remains to be seen, but it is a highly probable future, we think, given the possibilities and constraints we are facing – and, as we have seen, a viable form of the present already as well.

The current study has some characteristics of design that may influence the application, the generalisability and the interpretation of the argument. Some part of the data and the descriptions provided is self-reported and therefore – although we have tried our best of abilities to avoid such dangers – selective memory, telescoping, problems in attribution, bias and exaggeration might have influenced this paper's narrative. However, in a field where there is lack of available case studies and relevant documentation, we hope that this paper would take part in a creative discussion about collaborative arts and their role in socialisation, self-expression, communication and learning.

More Information

  • The page of the open source theatrical page can be found here and the page of the manifold Matryoshka project here.
  • See more publications.