If Yale professor Yochai Benkler woke up with a nasty hangover this morning, we can forgive him. He was probably out late last night at some posh New Haven nightclub celebrating the latest, and some might say greatest, manifestation of his beloved “social production” model of creating cultural goods. The Ladybank Company of Distillers, in Ladybank, Scotland, has announced it is pioneering the communal, Internet-enabled production of Scotch whisky. “As a ‘co-creation’ company,” explains a press release, “Ladybank enables a group of like-minded people to create a product, service or even a community that is free from the normal rules of commerce, because it is driven by their shared passion and shaped by their lifestyle choices.”
The company is setting up an “online boardroom” to facilitate the harnessing of collective booze-making intelligence. Speaking proudly of a growing “virtual community of whisky lovers,” James Thomson, the founder of this wikipedia of tipple, says, “At Ladybank we believe the community spirit we have created among the members will really inform what we do as a business and our online presence will also encourage members to engage with the Ladybank community and exchange their thoughts on how the project should progress.” On its blog, the company says that its “real foundations” are not its physical plants but “the people we have and how they are behind the project and interacting with it.” We are the Web. And now we are the Distillery, too.
No word yet on whether they’ll open source their recipes.