Free Cooperation

Geert Lovink

The last twenty years of studies on corporate organization and efficiency in human resources management have sacrificed, through their experiments, every ethical principle to achieve the holy grail of the capital machine: productivity. The interaction between human beings has been vivisected to understand how to “orient” (that is, amicably force) the workers to work towards the common goal of operative efficiency. However, outside of this system, new spontaneous forms of collaboration have characterized the communicative use of new media. Some examples of this are macrophenomena like the incredible development of the Net, the free software and open source movements and the growth of peer-to-peer networks, as well as personal attitudes, such as the hacker spirit or the spontaneous support communities. This apparently simple, but revolutionary, concept, is dissected in this reader/magazine, available both on paper and on the web in .pdf format. It’s the first attempt at formalizing an approach which sees self-organization as a model applicable on a wide scale and as an effective and free alternative to the unreachable and coercitive pyramids of industry. What is contagious is the virtuous game of knowledge sharing, mutual respect and goal-orientedness, which is here described as it is for turntablists, theatre actors, artists and theoreticians. After all, it’s precisely the application of the network concept in its most sublime conception which, after ten years from the introduction of the Net to everyday people, has seen the birth and growth of tools which can support the structural reflection of the (freely self-managed) network in the arms of society.