Free Society

Current Projects

There is more to freedom than just free software. Since early 2016 I work in the research project Society After Money (German: Die Gesellschaft nach dem Geld), which has the goal of exploring the possibilities and challenges of a world where money, exchange, and capital no longer matter.

I'm a co-author in the German-language Keimform-Blog, a group weblog discussing whether and in which ways commons-based peer production has a potential that extends beyond the areas of free software and open content production where it has first emerged. It this just a phenomenon of limited relevance, or might it one day cover all aspects of production? Is a society possible in which peer production is the primary mode of production? If so, how could such a society be organized?

Listings of the texts I've written in English and in German about commons and peer production can be found in the (otherwise somewhat dated) Peerconomy Wiki. Newer texts are listed first.

I also set up a wiki dedicated to discussing these and related questions, the Freie-Gesellschaft-Wiki (in German, too). Meanwhile, things have mainly moved into the Keimform-Blog, however.

I once participated in a nice little project that tried putting some ideas regarding commons and sharing into practice, the Leihnetzwerk, the German branch of the Distributed Library Project.


From Exchange to Contributions

From Exchange to ContributionsEdition C. Siefkes, Berlin, 2007.

Peer production – the way in which free software projects such as GNU/Linux and free content projects such as the Wikipedia are produced – has revolutionized the areas of software and content production during the last decades. But does peer production only work for information goods, or can it have a similar effect on the production of physical goods?
I have written a book discussing this question, and showing how peer production can indeed grow beyond the sphere of information. A society based entirely on peer production is possible, and this book describes how.

Beitragen statt tauschen

Beitragen statt tauschenAG SPAK Bücher, Neu-Ulm, 2008.

Die deutsche Übersetzung meines Buchs From Exchange to Contributions: das Buch beschäftigt sich dem Potenzial der Peer-Produktion – der Art und Weise wie Freie Software und Freie Inhalte produziert werden. Wir wissen, dass diese neue Produktionsweise von großer Bedeutung ist, wenn es um Software und Inhalte geht – Erfolgsgeschichten wie die von GNU/Linux, Apache oder der Wikipedia sprechen hier eine deutliche Sprache. Aber mein Buch zeigt, dass das noch längst nicht alles ist: Peer-Produktion hat das Potenzial für mehr, bis hin zu einer Umwälzung der gesamten gesellschaftlichen Produktion.

Study Reform and Project-Based Learning

Note that all the following links are in German.

While studying at the Technische Universität Berlin, I was a member of the Association of Computer Science Students (which is no longer active) and involved with the AStA, or Student Union (which is no longer what it was then).

One of my many activities was study reform, trying to prevent the conditions for the students from becoming even worse than the already were, but also thinking about how to do things differently and better. One result of the latter aspect was a proposal for a computer science curriculum centered around projects chosen and largely organized by the students themselves, where the role of the faculty is to support and guide the students rather than to steer and control them:

See also History of Computing for a project where we put some related ideas into practice.

Autonomous Seminars and Study-Groups

Since 1997, when I was a young student, I have initiated or participated in various "autonomous seminars", seminars or study-groups self-organized by the students. The longest-running of these is doubtlessly the seminar on Free Software, Free Knowledge, Free Society?. I'm participating since fall 2003, but the seminar had actually started one year earlier. It's no longer a seminar, but it's still fun :-)


As a student, I wrote a paper on the history and theory of democracy. In the paper, I explore several problems and dilemmas of the democratic models, among them the relation of democratic decision-making and a market-based economy. I conclude that if we take democracy seriously, we cannot have both, democracy and capitalism. While my thoughts have developed since then, I still cannot find a fault in that argument.

Materials on Anarchism and Workers' Councils

I translated excerpts from Peter Kropotkin's well-known article on anarchism from the 1910 edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica into German:

My site also hosts a detailed bibliography on workers' councils and democracy of councils. I have not been involved in creating this work, I'm only hosting it for some friends.

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