Peer production (also known by the term mass collaboration) is a way of producing goods and services that relies on self-organizing communities of individuals who come together to produce a shared outcome. The content is produced by the general public rather than by paid professionals and experts in the field.[dubious ] In these communities, the efforts of a large number of people are coordinated to create meaningful projects. The information age, especially the Internet, has provided the peer production process with new collaborative possibilities and has become a dominant and important mode of producing information. Free and open source software are two examples of modern processes of peer production. One of the earliest instances of networked peer production is Project Gutenberg, a project that involves volunteers that make "etexts" from out-of-copyright works available online. Modern examples are Wikipedia, an online encyclopedia, and Linux, a computer operating system. For-profit enterprises mostly use partial implementations of peer production, and would include such sites as Flickr, Etsy, Digg, and Delicious. Peer production refers to the production process on which the previous examples are based. Commons-based peer production is a subset of peer production.
Peer production occurs in a socio-technical system which allows thousands of individuals to effectively cooperate to create a non-exclusive given outcome. These collective efforts are informal. Peer production is a collaborative effort with no limit to the amount of discussion or changes that can be made to the product. However, as in the case of Wikipedia, a large amount, in fact the majority, of this collaborative effort is maintained by very few devoted and active individuals.
Peer production has also been utilized in producing collaborative Open Education Resources (OERs). Writing Commons, an international open textbook spearheaded by Joe Moxley at the University of South Florida, has evolved from a print textbook into a crowd-sourced resource for college writers around the world. Massive open online course (MOOC) platforms have also generated interest in building online eBooks. The Cultivating Change Community (CCMOOC) at the University of Minnesota is one such project founded entirely on a grassroots model to generate content. In 10 weeks, 150 authors contributed more than 50 chapters to the CCMOOC eBook and companion site. The Peer to Peer University has applied peer production principles to online open learning communities and peer learning.
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- TED: Ideas worth spreading - Yochai Benkler introduces peer production.
- The Emergence of Open Design and Open Manufacturing Michel Bauwens, We Magazine Volume 2
- Quality Management of Peer Production (eLearning)
- Writing Commons (open textbook)