Peer Distributing Beer

We still live in the infancy of peer production as a mode of collective action, in a sort of 1770s Great Britain. Therefore, we are still easily surprised and have not lost the sense of wonder, when we look at collective outputs like Wikipedia or the twittering global thought stream. We smile gleefully when we notice that journalists are reporting on (or using the vocabulary of) peer production in ways we do not expect: Today, the NYTimes writes about Beer Lao (not as in “free as in beer“).

Lao Brewery is building a network of fans-turned-distributors who import and sell the beer in select markets. Some distributors are former travelers who see potential in a brand with little international exposure. Others just really like the beer.

In Hong Kong, the brand is in the hands of Jerry Cheung, who has a love for lager and an affinity for the laid-back pace in Laos.

Mr. Cheung first tried Beer Lao while living in Cambodia in 2006. “It was the most unique beer I’d ever tasted,” he recalled. He flew to Vientiane, where the beer is made, soon afterward…

Forms of collaboration that seem natural online (think Ubuntu or Trent Reznor) still surprise us in the material world. However, is beer actually material? Is the material-virtual, online-offline dichotomy helpful when we want to frame peer production as a mode of collective action? Or should we call it online collaboration, enhanced collaboration, massive collaboration? Is it just technological? Or a new legitimatory practice (in)dependent of technology?

About Philipp

Philipp Müller works in the IT industry and is academic dean of the SMBS. Author of "". Proud father of three amazing children. The views expressed in this blog are his own.

26. May 2009 by Philipp
Categories: Blog | Tags: , , | 1 comment

One Comment


    Interesting Idea to “Peer Produce” Beer.
    But where could this lead to?

    Kelly said:
    When masses of people who own the means of production work toward a common goal and share their products in common, when they contribute labor without wages and enjoy the fruits free of charge, it’s not unreasonable to call that socialism.
    Well, Lessig argued against it-

    But- why does Peer Production have to be dependant from technology? It is something people have done through centuries.
    Why does it have to be something special if people do it on a voluntary base?