In other words, it’s impossible to overstate the importance of peer production to the modern digital world. Peer networks created and maintain the Linux operating system on which Android smartphones are based; the UNIX kernel that Mac OS X and iOS devices use; and the Apache software that powers most Web servers in the world (not to mention the millions of entries that now populate Wikipedia). What sounds on the face of it like the most utopian of collectivist fantasies — millions of people sharing their ideas with no ownership claims — turns out to have made possible the communications infrastructure of our age.
It’s not enough to say that peer networks are an interesting alternative to states and markets. The state and the market are now fundamentally dependent on peer networks in ways that would have been unthinkable just 20 years ago.
Steven Johnson, in The New York Times, expands on ideas from his most recent book Future Perfect. While both governments and corporations want us to believe that they are responsible for the creation of the internet, it is really the users, us, that shape what happens and how the internet grows. Johnson shares how Harvard legal scholar Yochai Benkler calls this phenomenon "commons-based peer production."
And so, while much discussion occurs amongst large corporations, the government and even the press - about maps on mobile, ecommerce, privacy, bandwidth, regulations and restrictions - it is our behavior and how we spend (or don't) our money within the internet that pushes its evolution forward.
It is a bit like voting in an election, every time we consume anything related to the internet we build it a little bit more. In the same way that we have a responsability to be an informed electorate, we should be informed consumers and not let self-aggrandazing origin myths shape what we want and need from the internet.