Definition: Many projects that are ostensibly oriented towards “the commons” nevertheless want to funnel participants into “their way” of thinking about things. Be careful with that, it’s a slippery slope to total isolation.

Problem: This problem is actually dual: with a too-narrow focus, collaboration is impossible. However, with an overly-wide focus, things are chaotic in other ways.


Félix Guattari: Imagine a fenced field in which there are horses wearing adjustable blinkers, and let’s say that the “coefficient of transversality” will be precisely the adjustment of the blinkers. If the horses are completely blind, a certain kind of traumatic encounter will be produced. As soon as the blinkers are opened, one can imagine that the horses will move about in a more harmonious way. (Quoted by Andrew Murphy, himself quoting Gary Genosko)

Like the underlying problem, the solution is dual: you can avoid isolation by becoming highly transversal — or avoid noise and chaos by blinkering yourself and shutting out other everything else.

Challenges: A moderate interpretation of Guattari’s quote is that it’s good to be open, but not too open. We need to allow for uncertainty, but not be completely vague. (See also: Navel Gazing.)

What’s Next: We recently submitted an abstract called “Escape from Peeragogy Island” to a geography conference talking about the spatiality of peer production. The idea behind this article is that we feel like we’ve come up with something great with the Peeragogy project, but we’re going to be a bit isolated if it’s not transparently useful to others. If we can’t explain why it’s a great idea, then it’s not entirely clear how great of an idea it actually is.

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