Platform Cooperativism Consortium

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= will "help to connect the practitioners in this eco system with each other and with organizations that can support their effort to change minds and bring real value and a fairer Internet to real people". [1]

URL = http://platformcoop.newschool.edu/

An initiative from Trebor Scholz et al., launched at Platform Cooperativism 2016.


Description

"The Platform Cooperativism Consortium (PCC) supports the cooperative platform economy through research, experimentation, education, advocacy, documentation of best practices, technical support, the coordination of funding, and events.

Built upon the concept of platform cooperativism, the Consortium is anchored in collective ownership, democratic governance, a decisive commitment to the global commons, inventive unions, social justice, as well as ecological and social sustainability.

Contributors from academia, platform co-op enterprises, independent software developers, artists, designers, lawyers, activists, publishing outlets, and funders, respond to genuine needs in the digital economy." (http://platformcoop.newschool.edu/index.php/about/mission/)


Activities

"1) RESEARCH:

The Platform Cooperativism Consortium functions as a think-and-do tank that develops a critical analysis of emerging, democratically-run, cooperatively- owned projects. The PCC will form a strong research group that will identify and advance emerging projects in this area and pose questions about their political, economic, and social significance.

ECOSYSTEM

Studying of the broader ecosystem of digital labor in order to understand the economic contexts into which platform co-ops can fit.

BUSINESS AND GOVERNANCE MODELS

Identifying innovative business models to ensure the long-term sustainability of platform co-ops, considering conducive sectors, services, the necessary amount of startup capital, proven leadership models, and a focus on blockchain technologies

Study of theories, practices, and tools that support democratic governance

Study of the multi-stakeholder platform co-op model rooted in the participation of workers, consumers, founders, investors, and geographically distributed communities.

PLATFORM CO-OP BADGES

Developing a platform cooperativism badge that is based on a comprehensive assessment framework

COOPERATIVELY OWNED AND OPERATED ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE

Study cooperatively-owned and operated Artificial Intelligence (e.g., self-driving ecologically sustainable cars)

SOCIAL ECONOMY IN SOUTHEAST ASIA

Digital mainstream as well as cooperatively owned employment platforms in Southeast Asia (e.g. Didi and taxi hailing apps in mainland China)


2) ADVOCACY

TOWARDS A DIVERSIFIED PLATFORM ECONOMY

The PCC develops policy briefs for local and federal legislators. The consortium works towards a diversified digital landscape in which alternatives can coexist with dominant platforms. The PCC informs municipalities about the need to fund alternatives to extractive businesses that demonstrate monopolistic patterns.

WORKING WITH REBEL CITIES

The consortium identifies supportive cities around the world in order to collaborate with these municipalities (e.g. Barcelona).

PRO-COMMONS

Emphasize the importance of the pro-commons model for the digital economy, and a more equal and sustainable society.

ADVANCING PLATFORM CO-OPS

The PCC advances projects by members of the Consortium and the cooperative platform economy community at large.

THE SCOTTISH COOPERATIVE ECONOMY

Begin conversations with Scottish government about the role of platform cooperative economy, link to existing Scottish cooperative economy.


3) EDUCATION

PROMOTING A CULTURAL SHIFT

The PCC puts learning front and center; it promotes a cultural shift to a mindset and literacy of cooperativism, mutualism and the commons, especially in the startup, and social enterprise sectors.

EVENTS

As part of this educational agenda, it forges exchanges between the various actors within the ecosystem. Annual events such as conferences, workshops, or DiscoTechs are an essential part of the educational mission. The locations for these events rotate every year. These events can lead to the creation of international PCC hubs in Europe, Australia, and Asia. Platform cooperativism events have taken place in many cities — Paris (May 2016), Barcelona (November 2015/October 2016) and more are planned in cities like Toronto, Mexico City, Berlin, Melbourne, London, and others.

SCHOLARS IN RESIDENCE

Establish a cooperative “scholar in residence” at University of Edinburgh in conjunction with the Paolo Quattrone Business School

A PLATFORM CO-OP MOOC

Creation of a MOOC educating people about the cooperative platform economy in a way that is also responsive to critiques of MOOCs.

COOPERATIVE PRINCIPLES FOR HIGHER EDUCATION

Reintroduce cooperative principles into higher education. Develop a platform cooperative curriculum, to be taught on college campuses, in tandem with the “start up” kit. Potential “cooperative code school” in the work in Edinburgh.

Working to advise on a curriculum piece that would teach cooperative engagement and principles. Teachers could add that as segment of their curriculum and courses.


4) DESIGN & EXPERIMENTATION

DESIGN CONSULTANCY

The PCC functions as a design consultancy to achieve more ambition in the design of user experiences. It aims to support startups and existing companies committed to experiment with shared ownership and governance.

FOCUS ON DESIGN PROCESS

Adapt lean startup methods, free/libre open source software- focus on design methods and processes to support cooperative/democratic labor formations

CO-DESIGN FOR WORKER CO-OPS

Offer co-design process for worker cooperatives (consider financial support by cities of NYC and Boston)


5) APPLICATION DEVELOPMENT

A WORDPRESS FOR COOPERATIVE LABOR PLATFORMS

One key project of the consortium is the support and coordination of the development of “off-the-shelf” software solutions that governments and businesses could implement as alternatives to the emerging monopolies associated with the sharing economy. This includes the need for core software for this ecosystem such as an open-source labor platform for cooperative businesses that can be easily implemented by cooperatives that would like to move their business online. In addition, software developers could customize platform solutions for new or potential platform co-ops.

PLATFORM CO-OP STARTUP KIT

Assemble a platform co-op startup kit (legal, design, Floss code)


6) SOLIDARITY

FAIRER SUPPLY CHAINS

The facilitation of connections and the nurturing of a mutual support within the cooperative ecosystem is a declared goal of the Consortium. Concretely, this could lead to projects supporting interoperability and the exchange of data. How do we build cooperation among cooperatives to create a fairer supply chain for the tech economy?


7) FUNDING

CONNECTING THOSE WHO SEEK INVENTIVE FUNDING SOLUTIONS

It is the goal of the consortium to connect organizations and convene discussions among those who are interested in financing projects within the ecosystem. These organizations will formulate best practices that can then be used by emerging platform co-ops. The consortium is interested in finding and developing inventive funding solutions also involving models associated with blockchain technology and crowdfunding, etc.

Venture funds, grand challenges for platform co-ops, a platform co-op prize, postdoc fellowships, or scholars in residence.


8) LEGAL CONSULTANCY

CONNECTING THOSE WHO SEEK INVENTIVE FUNDING SOLUTIONS

The consortium supports cooperatives that are interested in moving their business online but it also advises groups that want to form (or transform into) cooperatives with legal consulting services.

The PCC aims to create legal templates that will make it easier for platform coops to start out.

Work on licenses that advance collaboration between co-ops.


9) DOCUMENTATION AND MAPPING

The consortium documents platform co-ops and other projects within that ecosystem through articles. In addition, the PCC aims to map the cooperatively-owned Internet, also visualizing linkages within it. It contributes to related mapping efforts of the solidarity economy and other social movements.

Set up a working group to establish an aggregator for news items within the network to stay abreast of new intellectual developments and technological trends.


10) SPEAKERS BUREAU

Frequently, we receive invitations to talk in cities all over the world. This is beyond the capacity of any individual. Therefore we need to establish a group of people who can take on speaking engagements in various countries. Speakers need to be highly qualified to address the cooperative platform economy."

(http://platformcoop.newschool.edu/index.php/activities/)


Status

Trebor Scholz:

"With that in mind, for 2017, the Platform Cooperativism Consortium is focusing on the following projects.

1) A mooc about the cooperative platform economy. We are immediately moving to fundraise and create a free, massively open online course on the subject of the cooperative platform economy. This course will be for motivated individuals and groups worldwide who would like to start a platform co-op or reflect more on its the implications of an open social economy. It will also serve as a resource for those in the academy, providing teachable segments which instructors can use in their classes. If the task at hand is, as Benkler argues, the seizure of this unique historical moment to reframe the way politico-economic processes are understood, the availability of this courseware will be a vital tool in the dissemination of this new understanding which we are building together.

2) Templates. We plan to work on legal templates to help the community to launch platform co-ops, at least in the U.S.

3) Design. A design team already started a design overhaul of the platform.coop website. It will be rolled out in February. Send us your input or requests for features, please.

4) Fundraising. We are about to launch a donation channel and are looking for first donations to support I) the operation of the PCC, II) the massively open online course about the cooperative platform economy, and III) our work on legal templates that make it easier to start up platform co-ops.

5) The Platform Cooperativism Consortium will continue to interview different platform co-ops about their ethical commitments, lessons learned, ownership models, and systems of self-governance and publish articles, which make the community aware of projects within the ecosystem. The goal of these stories is to bring people within the ecosystem closer together. Our network will be as potent as the relationships of the people within it. You can keep abreast of this effort by following the stories we post here, on http://platform.coop/stories. A list of articles appears at the end of this article. We are open to review your platform co-op story. Submit it to us!

6) We will also our project of mapping the growing landscape of platform cooperatives and related democratically-run projects by promoting the excellent work by the team at Internet of Ownership who have produced a comprehensive directory of platform cooperatives, many articles, and are keeping a running calendar of events related to platform cooperativism.

7) In the fall of 2017, we will convene the next event at the New School. Write us your wish list for the event.

8) We are planning on launching a European sister organization of the Platform Cooperativism Consortium.

9) Platform cooperativism events are coming up in many cities including London, Brussels, Melbourne, and Berlin." (http://platform.coop/stories/happy-new-year)

More Information

  • For updated information in coming weeks stay tuned at @platformcoop .