Michel Bauwens: Transitioning to a Commons-Based Society

Michel Bauwens

Michel Bauwens

Transitioning to a Commons-Based Society

Background on the FLOK Project

Michel Bauwens:

The National Plan of Ecuador recognizes and stresses that the global transformation towards knowledge-based societies and economies requires a new form for the creation and distribution of value in society. The National Plan’s central concept is the achievement of ‘Buen Vivir’ (Sumak Kawsay) or ‘good living’; but good living is impossible without the availability of ‘good knowledge’, i.e. ‘Buen Conocer’ (‘Sumak Yachay’). The third national plan for 2013-2017 explicitly calls for a open-commons based knowledge society[1].

President Correa himself exhorted young people to achieve and fight for this open knowledge society[2].

The FLOK Society is a joint research effort by the Coordinating Ministry of Knowledge and Human Talent, the SENESCYT (Secretaría Nacional de Educación Superior, Ciencia, Tecnología e Innovación) and the IAEN (Instituto de Altos Estudios del Estado) to develop transition and policy proposals to achieve such an open commons-based knowledge society.

FLOK refers to:

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Tim Berners-Lee: Internet Magna Carta

Tim Berners-Lee

Tim Berners-Lee

We Need a Magna Carta for the Internet

Huffington Post, 6 May 2014

These comments are adapted from a talk to the Net Mundial conference in Brazil on May 4.

“Twenty-five years ago, when the Internet had been running for 20 years, there was internet mail and net news and remote login, but there was no web. No web sites, web pages, links. So I invented the World Wide Web. As the project grew, I needed collaborators. To achieve that, I went to the Internet technical community.

Specifically, I founded the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), a multistakeholder organization that develops open standards to ensure the long-term growth of the Web. W3C works on different aspects of Internet technology with numerous organizations, including the Internet Engineering Task Force, ECMA/TC39, IANA, and ICANN.

Hopefully you all agree that we have done a reasonable job. The Web, and its underlying Internet infrastructure, have been an enormous engine of growth and understanding for society. It has been the collaboration between these multi-stakeholder organizations which has made this possible.

Our technical community achieved this contribution with little oversight from governments. In fact, our “OpenStand” vision is that the right way to build a technical infrastructure for society is through multi-stakeholder technical groups where decisions are made in the public interest and based on technical merit. Discussion is open. Documents are available for free on the web. In W3C specifically, companies commit that as the standard emerges, they will not charge royalties to those who implement it.

The web needs to remain a system which exists without regard to national borders. Today most of the work is already done in the non-national Internet technical community. I was also pleased to hear that ICANN is beginning a dialogue to create a multi-stakeholder review process to replace that of the U.S. government. That is appropriate because ICANN services the global public interest.

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Jean Lievens: Stacco Troncoso Shares Helene Finidori on FLOK Society and the Commons

Jean Lievens

Jean Lievens

Helene Finidori on FLOK Society and the Commons

Here’s an excellent summary, written by our good friend Helene Finidori from the Commons Abundance Network, on FLOK Society’s historical significance for the Commons and P2P movements. The article was originally published in STIR magazine and Helene has kindly given us permission to republish it here.


This column was published in STIR’s spring issue and is available to buy here

With the Free Libre Open Knowledge (FLOK) Society project, peer-to-peer commons-based economics have a good chance of being institutionalised in Ecuador, or in other words, of entering at a nation-state level through the front door. This would be a world first.

Click on Image to Enlarge

Click on Image to Enlarge

Ecuador may not be particularly advanced as far as urban P2P dynamics are concerned, but its indigenous and rural communities have a long history of sharing knowledge. And since the election of a progressive government in 2007, the country is politically ahead in its determination to continue developing an economy based on the creativity of its citizens and on the sustainable leverage of its internal resources.

The focus here is to transition away from cognitive capitalism where value is commonly extracted via technology transfers through intellectual property rights mostly held by large foreign companies, generating dependencies on the global north and increasing the internal social divide. The goal is to shift towards a ‘social knowledge economy’ where knowledge is freely accessible, produced and shared through co-operative and open processes, and where the resulting knowledge commons can be built upon to accelerate innovation and the distribution of wealth.

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