|Cápsula grabada durante el Mercado de Intercambio de Conocimientos Libres, Barcelona 2008. Organizado por Platoniq.
Published on 12/01/2008 - Experiences
Related with: P2P versus Web 2.0 - Network Economics: The Game
9. What is the relation between the project and its own community? Did you start it to offer a tool/solution to an existing community, or rather with the goal of gathering people around a new idea?
Yes, Dialstation was very much concieved as being a product that is needed by both my immediate community as well as my general community of artists, activists, translocal and informal producers.
10. Do you know of other projects offering similar services as yours?
There are certainly other worker owner companies, though the fact that Telekommunisten is as much an art project as a company makes it somewhat unique, other collective commercial organisations do not often incorporate political advocacy so directly into their work.
Good examples of enterprises with similarities are the Phone Co-op and Motion Twin.
11. Technically, is Dialstation entirely legal in all countries where you operate? If so, how come there's not a huge offer of similar services in the market when: a) mobile phones (or phones in general) are such a key instrument in our day-to day communications flow, and b) projects such as Skype, that provide a means for more affordable ways to make phone calls on a computer, have proved to be quite successful and have a large user base?
Yes, it is entirely legal a far as I know, however calling cards seem to the normal product in this space, thus our approach is seen as complex and hard to sell.
12. What sort of funding have you received for the project, how long will it last, and what will happen at the end of the funding? What long-term plans do you have for economic sustainability?
We have no funding of any sort, we make all our money from providing services, currently
mostly business services, but eventually consumer services.
13. Have you teamed up with institutions or private partners, either for funding or for other aspects of the project's development?
Institutions or provide organisations hire us for consulting or pay us to use our network for their own services.
14. You mention in your InfoEnclosure 2.0 article that "The mission of Internet Investment Boom 1.0 was to destroy the independent service provider and put large, well financed, corporations back in the driving seat." Do you feel (or have you felt) threatened by large telecommunications companies?
No, exactly because our main selling point is our political identity not features or price exclusively, thus they can not compete with us among people who share our political beliefs.
15. You also talk about how important marketing and over-hype strategies are for Web 2.0 enterprises. How do you approach the marketing, publicity and communication of your company? Dialstation has 2 different public websites, one being purely informative and the other more geared toward the ethics/theory behind the project. Is that part of a conscious communicative plan?
Being such a potentially universally-appealing service, it seems like the only thing in between "failure" and "success" is getting the message across.
16. You have encouraged promotion of Dialstation in blogs etc. in exchange for credit. What other alternative strategies have you used?
Yes, this is the major area we must improve in, the idea of two websites, one for the collective and one for each of the products is intentional and will be kept, however both have a long way to go to effectively communicating our message. Attracting more writers, designers and organising promotional strategy will be the major challenge starting with the next development phase and over the next year.
Figuring out a framework for co-operating with a global network is among my main challenges, I think something like an affiliate program is needed, but have not worked out the possible structure and possible political issues yet.
17. How important is terminology in your project (both online and offline)? Sometimes, making things more or less understandable for new users is the difference between "success" and "failure", especially when it comes to abstract concepts or relatively new ideas.
Very important and an area I consider us to still be very weak in, the fact is most people still do not understand either the project or our products, and this is a major challenge.
18. What is your project's relation with public space and the interaction with public, offline audience? Would you say this relation is a key part of your project's own dynamics?
I am an active member of the art and hacker communities in Berlin and I think this contributes more to the exposure of Telekommunisten than the offline audience at this stage.
19. What's the fundamental difference in the definition of "peer production" which Michael Bauwens defines as "non-reciprocal production" and you define as "independent equals working with and on a common stock of productive assets"?
It seems to me that "non-reciprocal" not logically related to the word "peer," which means "independent equals" in both plain English and network topology.
As mentioned, a P2P network is not a "non-reciprocal" network, but a network made up of independent nodes.
If you accept the emphasis on "independant, equal" as opposed to "non-reciprocal," which -- as I have explained -- describes circulation, not production in an economic sense, then I see the question in terms of class-stratification, the origins of which are rooted in control of circulation by way of property.
Which is why the core of my critique of Bauwens, Benkler and others is that they insist that "peer production" can only exist in the context of the production of freely circulating immaterial capital, and my contention is unless we have a commons of material land and capital we can not be equals, and thus can not even be peers. Unless we eliminate property, we can not control circulation.
Economically, I express this by demonstrating that surplus value will always flow through to scarcity, that owners of property will always capture the exchange value created by an immaterial commons.
Thus, unless we address the formation and allocation of a commons of material productive assets, capitalism will continue to be the dominant mode of production and the interests of property owners will continue to subjugate the interest of direct-producers.
20. Is there anything else you wish to add?
Please pass on the word that Telekommunisten is not a closed project, we want and need to share and co-operate with a global network, and we need people who like the concept to get involved for it to work.
(1) This interview was carried out at the beginning of 2008, after the first public actions with the Bank of Common Knowledge (BCK), when Platoniq researched into new points of view to expand their collaborators network and to enhance and develop BCK's structure, contents, participation strategies and economic sustainability. To achieve this, we got in touch with several collectives, projects managers and consultants whose work and activities were similar to Platoniq's and BCK's philosophy. We conducted surveys and carried out interviews and consultancies with experts who came from different contexts and had various needs. Thus, we obtained a wide spectrum of answers and oppinions.
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