Felix Stalder’s extended essay, Digital Solidarity, responds to the wave of new forms of networked organisation emerging from and colliding with the global economic crisis of 2008. Across the globe, voluntary association, participatory decision-making and the sharing of resources, all widely adopted online, are being translated into new forms of social space. This movement operates in the breach between accelerating technical innovation, on the one hand, and the crises of institutions which organise, or increasingly restrain society on the other. Through an inventory of social forms – commons, assemblies, swarms and weak networks – the essay outlines how far we have already left McLuhan’s ‘Gutenberg Galaxy’ behind. In his cautiously optimistic account, Stalder reminds us that the struggles over where we will arrive are only just beginning.
Today, we are entering into a new constellation,
a new galaxy and the reformulation of solidarity in a
myriad of ways [...] There are new institutional
and cultural forms emerging to support such complex
webs of interaction and production, often based on the
notion of a shared resource, a commons, and focused on
the particular requirements necessary to develop and
protect that one resource. They offer a chance to remake
society in a particular way, through reinventing social
solidarity and democracy, be it in the digital networks
of informational cooperation or in the common
appropriation of physical spaces.
– Felix Stalder, Digital Solidarity