Peer-to-peer infrastructure and thinking applied for an entire country: Ecuador

FLOK: Free/Libre Open Knowledge
Also known as the social knowledge economy project.

Ecuador is exploring how the principle of open knowledge might reshape its economic and social development.

Michel Bauwens, founder of the P2P Foundation, was heading the research department of FLOK. His direct involvement ended June 2014.

I know Michel from the early days of our we-magazine. He contacted us after the launch of the first volume and contributed to the second one: “The Emergence of Open Design and Open Manufacturing.”

When FLOK started it was announced as the first serious attempt of an entire country to peer-to-peer structure it’s economy and society. It seemed to be backed by the government, so the translation of the theory and already existing practice into legislative (law, government structure, educational institutions ..) was planned to be part of the process! Quote Michel Bauwens: “When we started the FLOK process, it was presented to us as a project that was strategic for the Ecuadorian government, as supported by the Ministry of Knowledge and the Secretariat of Innovation and would systematically move the country to a social knowledge economy, and that would be enthusiastically received by civil organisations.”

Reality turned out to be different – the “old system” was striking back in various forms. Michel describes it here in more details

The research done and made public is very helpful for our further way walking towards – what I call – a “Greater We”. In the following 4 videos Michel explains FLOK itself, the research they’ve done and their suggestions for education, economy (micro and macro) and society. A MUST SEE (20 minutes) for all those who are looking for post-capitalism models which put the concept of the commons in the center of the activities. It’s neither communism nor socialism, yes, it’s rather left than right. It provides meaning and value for the many. It’s trying to find a better balance between the rich and the poor.

What is FLOK?


Michel argues for a “reciprocity based license” which basically says: “If you contribute to our commons, you can use our commons. If you don’t contribute to our commons and you make a profit from it, then you have to share the profit with us.” This avoids piracy – so Michel – escpecially it would help rural areas to be exploited by big multi national corporations.

Value Regimes

Michel says that we’ve been moving from “Cognitive Capitalism” (which he explains in the video) to what he calls “Netarchical (= hierarchy in the Net) Capitalism” in which the creators of the value do NOT benefit from the financial outcome of the value created (examples: FACEBOOK, crowd working). In this system we haven’t democratized the means of monetisation. See the following graphic.


Michel suggests to move towards a (mature) civic peer-to-peer economy where the value returns to the value creators.

Technological Regimes

Michel is describing this 4 technological frames in which we experience today the commons – his suggestions is to move towards the GLOBAL COMMONS

global commons