We live entry in the era of labor contribution, the contributor is not just a producer, or simply a consumer.

Fab’lab’, 3D printers … « Consumerism has lived, » asserts the philosopher Bernard Stiegler. For him, motivated by our own interests, we will change ours working models.

This is an extract of his interview in Paris in January 2013, by Audrey Cerdan from http://www.rue89.com

Bernard Stiegler has founded the Institute for Research and Innovation (IRI), in order to « anticipate changes in offer and cultural consumption allowed by the new digital technologies. »


Rue89 – What clink you today in our working world?

People are strong supporters of open-source software.

And prefer to work at home, even to be paid less than in large companies, but companies who work on proprietary software. They seem to me more motivated by their work than by their salary. I discovered that economy.

Rue89 – With contributory process, hierarchy tends to disappear?

No, no. The « bottom up » pure does not exist. What we call the « bottom up » is to bring all information and decisions from the ground, participants, rather than having a few chief that dictate organizations. I think it is not possible. Always someone have to decide.

Very large companies who use contributory process, in United States and Germany, are organized on that model. I think about free software companies, such as Redhat, but also hybrid models, such as Google, which be placed between consumerism and contributory or Facebook, or Wikipedia. Each of these companies has its own organization. But there are always a leader and a hierarchy.

This is the decision process who is different. The decision maker is one who judges the best, and that which animates, also the best, knowledgeable communities.

But there are not people who have a role performers. Everyone has a voice in all that concerns the content, everyone is involved in this decision. The customers themselves can participate.

Rue 89 – Freelance workers and customers can participate? Explain to me.

FNAC, music stores, at its beginning, working on a contributory model. All vendors were fans: musicians, photographers, etc.. In someway, FNAC was sponsoring, making them work.

All fans went to the FNAC. To interact with sellers. I went there, I was a jazz fans’ . And he came in the evening to play with sellers.

Fnac destroyed it 25 years ago. This is a very serious mistake. That’s the model that today people seek. Employees, customers, fans, everyone brings his ideas. Employees, freelancers, customers, all become contributors to the business

Rue89 – There is no more consumers?

No, we speak of contributors too. I think consumerism lived. This is a business model that has become toxic to people and environment.

We live entry into a new way of working: the era of labor contribution, the contributor is not just a producer, or simply a consumer.

Rue89 – How does this model actually contributing? Do you have an example for us?

I taught at a time, to designers and stylists of Decorative Arts School in Paris. We have developed a business model contributory. We designed, theoretically, a fashion company in which there was no more consumers.

There were contributors, who were part of a club. They had a membership card, and corporate stock. Not to have benefits, but to have the right to decide on recruitment, collection, etc..

They had the right to give ideas. To say, for example, who them designed this collection there. The real fashion lovers invent things. They play. Their opinion counts.

Rue89 – It is the Kingdom of fans?

Yes. The contributor tomorrow (…) is a fan, in the old sense of the term. This is someone who is primarily motivated by their interests rather than economic reasons.

It can also develop greater expertise than those motivated by economic reasons.

Rue89 -This is a radical change, how to implement it?

This is a new working model, (…) It brings not only his labor but knowledge. This is a huge gain.

Do not forget that automation will generalize and make employment less necessary. Look at the self-checkouts in supermarkets, automated toll, but also the software robots that do housework on Wikipedia. I argue, that this is a good thing.

On one condition: that enhances the ability of people to develop their social skills, their knowledge, their work in the strict sense of the term, rather than their only job.

This is the necessary condition for rebuilding a viable model.

Rue89 -But these contributors, should they pay? If so, how?

Yes, you must pay them. (…) There are solutions like this.

Concerning the amount of compensation, there could be a salary part with one hand and a part on other hand as a contributory profit. One can imagine stuff like that. All this is a value that we call positive externalities.

As for the practical implementation of such measures, it should be the object of social innovation, experimentation, works of specialists that I am not and negotiations.

Rue89 – This model contributory he transposed in all sectors?

More or less. It comes in various ways.

(…) It is the same with the fab ‘lab’, these workshops where everyone can come make its objects. These are local laboratories that make invention accessible to all by providing digital fabrication tools. As the 3D printer.

The real issue is: how to ensure that people come from an attitude of consumers.

We live in a transitional phase, where the challenge is, in France, the government, to get to draw a critical path for our society: a path where we invent a real growth based on the development knowledge, and where it exceeds the consumerist model.

You can find the original interview on http://www.rue89.com/2013/02/02/bernard-stiegler-nous-entrons-dans-lere-du-travail-contributif-238900


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