Pros and cons of peer production in a nutshell

It's been a bit quiet around here lately. My apologies.

I've just discovered a rather interesting looking publication [pdf] from RAND Europe on the Future of the Internet Economy (via Ian Brown) and although I haven't read it all yet I came across a rather nice meaty section that spells out some of the pros and cons of using commons-based peer production to co-create knowledge and other informational public goods.

I thought I'd save it here for future reference and sharing:

Governments may also find that opening up their processes, sharing public information, and actively engaging citizens to take an interest in the public (virtual and real) space leads to ownership and shared responsibilities.

An important value will be how responsibility is allocated and assumed, and how accountability is established in a time where processes become collective endeavours. Mass collaboration and voluntary agreements provide good approaches for innovative development processes, drawing on the knowledge and talent of many.

However they lack effective decision making capabilities, quality control and the endorsement (certification) of the outcomes, thus potentially leading to instability and uncertainty about the quality and value of the process outputs. Peer review, ranking, karma points and the like, are expected to fulfil some of this function but are easy to manipulate and are not evidence based.