Since 2005, the P2P Foundation has been researching, cataloging and advocating for the potential of P2P and Commons-based approaches to societal and consciousness change.
The P2P Foundation (officially, The Foundation for P2P Alternatives) is a non-profit organization and global network dedicated to advocacy and research of commons-oriented peer to peer (P2P) dynamics in society.
P2P is an abbreviation of “peer to peer”, sometimes also described as “person to person” or “people to people”. The essence of P2P is this direct relationship, and its core characteristics include:
- Creation of common goods through open, participatory production and governance processes
- Universal access guaranteed through licenses such as Creative Commons, GPL, Peer Production Licence.
P2P is a process or dynamic that can be found in many communities and movements self-organising around the co-creation of culture and knowledge. Well known general examples include the free/open source software movement; free culture; open hardware; and open access in education and science.
The Commons is a concept and practice that has been steadily gathering increased attention and advocates. Deeply rooted in human history, it’s difficult to settle on a single definition that covers its broad potential for social, economic, cultural and political change. The Commons is now demonstrating its power as a “key ingredient” for change in diverse locations and contexts around the world.
P2P/commons-oriented communities, values and practices are now also increasingly present in the world of physical production through open design, the sharing economy and co-working in hacker/makerspaces and Fab-labs. These movements represent a cultural shift towards new kinds of democratic and economic participation that we believe are sowing the seeds for a more sustainable, egalitarian future.
The P2P Foundation, with its particular focus on the relationship of the Commons and P2P practices, is supporting this Commons transition by helping to share knowledge and develop tools to create common value and facilitate open, participatory input across society.
The P2P Foundation was conceived to help people, organizations and governments transition towards commons-based approaches to society through co-creating an open knowledge commons and a resilient, sustainable human network.
Between the paradigms of the network and the organization, the P2P Foundation exists as an ‘organized network’ which can facilitate the creation of networks, yet without directing them. Our primary aim is to be an incubator and catalyst for the emerging ecosystem, focusing on the ‘missing pieces’, and the interconnectedness that can lead to a wider movement.
P2P, in practice, is often invisible to those involved, for a variety of cultural reasons. We want to reveal its presence in discrete movements in order to unite them in their common ethos. To do this, a common initiative is required which:
- gathers information
- connects and mutually informs people
- strives for integrative insights contributed by many sub-fields
- organizes events for reflection and action
- educates people about critical and creative tools for “world-making”
The P2P Foundation monitors the emergence of P2P dynamics in every field of human activity. We document these projects on our open access wiki and report and critique current events on our daily blog. Our Commons Transition website combines a platform for policy proposals with a web magazine featuring specially curated stories and interviews, with and for commoners worldwide. Our research network, led by the P2P Lab, empirically explores and expands the theoretical work produced on commons-oriented peer production, governance and property to ascertain its viability in real-world applications. Our focus on the productive potential of communities and networks inspires us to nurture partnerships with prefigurative collectives and more established players to extend our policy recommendations to those in the position to effect change.
P2P Foundation members are active all over the world, with representatives in Europe, Asia, Oceania, Africa, South America, and North America.
We are always looking to expand our coverage and welcome new members to our community.
Our Strategic Priorities
We are a pluralist network, actively documenting, researching, and promoting peer to peer alternatives. Our cultural and political aims include
- Ending biosphere destruction and working towards its regeneration by abandoning dangerous conceptions of pseudo-abundance in the natural world (based on the assumption that natural resources are infinite and that technological innovation by itself will encounter all solutions needed.)
- Promoting free cultural exchange by abandoning innovation-inhibiting conceptions of pseudo-scarcity in the cultural world (based on the assumption that the free flow of culture must be restricted through excessive patents, copyright, intellectual property, etc.)
The following broad “streams” have been identified in order to best channel our efforts and resources:
- Stream 1: P2P Cultures and Politics is designed to help build a relatable identity and culture for the Commons, featuring inclusivity, gender equality and diversity. These values inform our policy work to transform progressive politics in a commons way, inside and outside the institutions.
- Stream 2: Open Coops & Sustainable Livelihoods guides our examination of labor, carework, well-being and emancipation for commoners, and the creation of durable, transnational networks to construct ethical markets.
- Stream 3: Building the Open Source Circular Economy aims to create synergies between cooperative peer production and sustainability. To do this, we attempt to show how a transition to new modes of production, governance and ownership can solve ecological and climate crises.
See also our guiding principles, how we are financed, or take a more in-depth look at our 2017-19 key projects.