Grupo Cooperativo de las Indias ~ http://grupolasindias.coop ~
History of the industrial P2P sector
The explosion in the social use of the Internet in the ’90s generated notable changes in the whole productive process. One of the most striking effects was the apperance in the area of the dissemination of information of what economist Juan Urrutia then called a “logic of abundance.”
The logic of abundance appears when the structure of production and costs becomes unnecessary to collectively settle on what is produced and what not. Urrutia departs from the topics of the information economy to imagine markets that are evolving towards a situation of Pareto sub-optimality in an undefined way, as a product of the extension of the network effect. At its limits, the consequence would be the equivalent of what would be produced by a market with perfect competition in neoclassical models. Which is to say, the price would be equivalent to the marginal cost… but the marginal cost of spreading one more unit of information on the network is zero.
A direct consequence of the logic of abundance is the appearance of large repositories of texts free of intellectual property restrictions and open to the public.
The social model that the new information ecology foreshadowed came together for the first time in an industrial sector in the form of the free software industry. Although its global economic impact is almost impossible to measure2, given the nature of “free capital” which every technological repository has, the impact on business has been undeniable. In the middle of the first decade of the 2000s, big companies like IBM, Novell, and Sun Microsystems reoriented towards this new way of doing business, and a series of medium-sized businesses appeared (or converged) that had a global impact, like Red Hat in the US, Canonical in Great Britain or SUSE in Germany, and above all, there emerged a veritable “cloud” of small local businesses specializing in support and custom services to end consumers.
The model of this social-entrepreneurial ecosystem is based on a series of public repositories (which, grouped together, is usually called the “commons”) developed by P2P volunteer communities, businesses and foundations such as the Mozilla Foundation, Google, Attomatic or the Apache Foundation, which, together with a series of individualized development tools, allow support, customization and even a starting point for alternative development to any person, small/medium business, or group with enough knowledge.
A new and vigorous work ethic and incentives in this structure 3 drive a form of permanent innovation that continually creates new markets even as it makes free [gratis] things more common and provides access to new products that were formerly cutting-edge. It’s the model known as “dissipation of rents,”4 whose social result is the most similar to a purely competitive market like those described by neoclassical economics. It’s no coincidence that the vanguard businesses in the technology and Internet services sector, from Google to Apple, to the large majority of start-ups, to almost all small technological businesses today, are based on the permanent reuse of elements and infrastructures built on free software (from MySQL databases to web servers to communication