Inverse Infrastructures
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Inverse Infrastructures

Disrupting Networks from Below

Edited by Tineke M. Egyedi and Donna C. Mehos

The notion of inverse infrastructures – that is, bottom-up, user-driven, self-organizing networks – gives us a fresh perspective on the omnipresent infrastructure systems that support our economy and structure our way of living. This fascinating book considers the emergence of inverse infrastructures as a new phenomenon that will have a vast impact on consumers, industry and policy. Using a wide range of theories, from institutional economics to complex adaptive systems, it explores the mechanisms and incentives for the rise of these alternatives to large-scale infrastructures and points to their potential disruptive effect on conventional markets and governance models.
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Appendix II: Inverse Infrastructures: Coordination in Self-Organizing Systems

Tineke M. Egyedi, Jos Vrancken and Jolien Ubacht


Tineke M. Egyedi, Jos Vrancken and Jolien Ubacht The paper argues that a new category of infrastructures is emerging, userdriven, self-organizing and with de-centralized control: Inverse Infrastructures (IIs). IIs are not well-understood. Moreover, they represent a paradigm shift in infrastructure development. Their bottom-up development shows tension with the current socio-institutional framework for infrastructures. Internationally infrastructure laws and policies are based on a top-down and centralized view of infrastructures. Regulation is based on a control paradigm that does not fit the characteristics of inverse infrastructures and has no ways to deal with them. Policy (re)design is needed in the face of inverse infrastructure emergence. The paper analyses how these self-organizing infrastructures emerge and develop by focusing on coordination issues. Coordination is central to self-organization. Two clusters of II cases are analyzed on what triggers coordination and how subsequent coordination takes place (coordination mechanisms). Theoretical concepts are drawn from standardization theory, from studies on Open Source Software communities, and from theories of selforganizing systems (i.e. Complex Adaptive Systems and System-of-Systems theory). The two clusters of II cases are peer-to-peer networks (e.g. Napster, Gnutella and Joost) and wireless networks (Wireless Leiden and FON). The paper concludes that, similar to the behavior of ant colonies, II emergence can be understood as an accumulation of local attempts to optimize a situation. Complex citizen and citizen-company partnerships evolve which compete with existing infrastructure provisions and touch on public values (e.g. privacy, copyright). A policy response is needed. © 2007 IEEE. Reprinted, with permission, from P. Feng,...

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