The problem of unequal access to meanings and ideas negatively affects the development of science and society. Thus, the peer-to-peer concept was born from the awareness of that. Derived from the popular P2P concept, the term refers to an architecture of distributed computer applications, which divides tasks or workloads between peers. Working parallel with this architecture, a social practice was developed. Equality of the participants' rights to access information and the core of the product, responsibility, and mutual assistance are the main values of the practice.
This concept inspired the adaptation of a new philosophy to various areas of human interaction within programming, developing IT products, mutual training, volunteering, and searching for solutions to global challenges; Wikipedia is the largest knowledge project based on the concept.
The authors of the P2P concept believe that open knowledge and free access to software, scientific research, and scientific papers and books would help our civilization to make a qualitative leap forward. According to the P2P philosophy, barriers to the use of other people's intellectual property are unethical; they put some people in a privileged position in relation to others and increase inequality. P2P additionally criticizes authoritarian and centralized social structures. Under the current system of elitism towards knowledge, people cannot work together as equals, nor can they share all information as well as enabling access to intellectual property. A P2P network promotes its political and social program under the belief that collective efforts
will help in solving environmental problems and will be able to revive politics, production, and labor relations.
There are several fundamental aspects of social P2P processes:
- Social production. Collaborative production can be open for participation and use by as many people as possible. Yochai Benkler, who studies resource management in networked environments, suggests that this process should be described as "commons-based peer production." He argues that modern information networks provide great opportunities for cooperative creativity and product development, with great consequences for society and the economy. Two good examples of this include the free operating system Linux, and social networks. Users create content for YouTube or on Twitter, which attracts audiences to these websites while spreading certain ideas or cultural content.
- Collective management. Production is regulated by the community of makers and not by the market distribution or corporate hierarchy. When creating articles for Wikipedia, every author of the project can approve the article or complain about its quality, edit it, or reject it. This approach assumes a collective responsibility to make the product better, more interesting, and more accessible to the user.
- Equal ownership. According to P2P, the value of ownership can be publicly available; peer-to-peer services and products are distributed through the new forms of ownership that are not considered exclusive, although their individual authorship is recognized. The non-profit organization Creative Commons, used by Wikipedia to license its content, is a demonstrative example. Creative Commons operates on the principle of equal and free access to the created product. While the authors may retain some rights, they are often interested in allowing free copying of their work among their fans and subscribers.
According to P2P, one should not produce goods solely for the exchange value nor use a pricing mechanism or corporate hierarchy to allocate resources. P2P is the common property of makers and users, as well as of all humanity. Its basic practice involves approaching property as beyond any hierarchy, without considering objects as belongings to private or collective ownership. Because of that, P2P's economic methods differ from both corporate production standards and state planning methods.