We think we know how "capital" works. So what's "phygital"?


Some intriguing playing-with-concepts in Open Democracy this week, by Vasilis Kostakis. 

We think we know what "capital" is - the holders of money finding ways to make more money, by participating in markets and business. But is it a subtle enough concept to capture a new kind of economic activity that makes the generation of common resources just as easily as private capital?

Kostakis suggests an entirely new term for this - the "phygital". He explains further: 

"Phygital’ is a process whereby ‘physical’ (material production) meets the ‘digital’ (production of knowledge, software, design, culture). It encapsulates digitally enhanced physical reality and production, to show how the influx of shared knowledge changes and improves production.

First it was Wikipedia and the myriads of free and open-source software projects. They demonstrated how people, driven by diverse motives, can produce complex ‘digital artefacts’ if they are given access to the means of production. Now we are also observing a rich tapestry of initiatives in the field of manufacturing.  

For example, see the Wikihouse project that produces open source designs for houses; the OpenBionicsproject that produces open source designs for robotic and bionic devices; or the FarmHack and L’Atelier Paysan communities that produce open source designs for agricultural machines. Digital technologies enable people to cooperate in a remote and asynchronous way, and produce designs that are shared as digital commons (open source).

Then the actual manufacturing takes place locally, often through shared infrastructures (from 3d printing and CNC machines to low-tech tools and crafts) and with local biophysical conditions in mind. Phygital is a process in which shared resources (commons) are used to produce more shared resources (commons).

Similar to capital, phygital is a process that results in social relations. However, it is a process in which shared resources (commons) are used to produce more shared resources (commons). The kind of social relations can thus be very different to capitalism. And it may lead to a post-capitalist economy and society.

More here