We are witnessing today a steady growth in the impact of user-generated content and peer-production on the so-called sharing or collaborative economy. These emergent practices are an indicator of radical changes in the mode of production in an age of ‘prosumerism’, characterized by two main trends.
On the one hand, corporations such as Google, Uber or Facebook are capturing the value created by the actors contributing to the collaborative economy, in a way that has been described by some scholars as an exploitation of free labour.
On the other hand, projects such as Wikipedia or GNU/Linux are emblematic of a new model of production that relies on the contribution of many individuals collaborating to a collective project that is not owned by any given entity but rather by the community as a whole (Commons-Based Peer Production or CBPP).
These individuals organise themselves without relying on traditional hierarchical and mercantile organisational structures, to produce a set of commons resources which are made freely available to the public for use and reuse. In the last few years, CBPP has expanded beyond the field of software and encyclopedias to also cover the realms of information (OpenStreetMap, Wikihow), hardware (FabLabs, Open Source Ecology), accommodation (Couchsurfing, BeWelcome) and currency (Bitcoin, Altcoins).