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February 12, 2020
by Trebor Scholz

Gig Workers Rising

You are reading the February edition of our newsletter. Whether you are reading this in Berlin (Germany), Ahmedabad (India), Brooklyn (USA), Catalonia (Spain), or Porto Alegre (Brazil), write to us with news and updates in *your language* at info@platform.coop.

If you enjoy this newsletter, please help your friends to subscribe by pointing them to our sign up page.

Ecosystem Updates

The founding convention of the International Alliance of App-Based Transport Workers (IAATW) was held near Oxford in the UK. It was hosted by the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) and included drivers from 23 countries. They formed a union. Gig Workers Collective is another experiment of worker power.

Brightly, a worker cooperative franchise, is providing a model of how to scale.

The Start.coop accelerator program added a new video featuring Jen from Savvy and Jeremy from The Staffing Coop talking about their experience building cooperatives and platforms. Learn more at http://start.coop 

Many of you may have been excited to hear that a cooperative was part of the bidding process when Internet Society put the dot-org domain up for sale. “In a move to press the U.S.-based ICANN to block the sale, prominent internet executives told Reuters that they have created a nonprofit cooperative they are offering as an alternative owner of .org” but there is not a lot of love for its lead organizers in some quarters. Have a look at some of the discussion and analysis that’s been going on. The New York Times chimed in, too.

Savvy.coop founder Jen Horonjeff was featured on CNBC discussing her bold move to wear a hospital gown on a panel at the  38th Annual J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference to highlight the disconnect between the investors in suits and the patients' whose healthcare is meant to be served. Savvy also published its first Year in Review newsletter. Have a read! 

Reporting institutions like The New York Times display clear bias against Senator Bernie Sanders on a daily basis. How can journalists wrestle back independence? You can study the materials about media co-ops at our last conference, read Chernomas' and Hudson's book Gatekeeping, learn about Leo Sammallahti's proposal for a novel type of online publication.

Check out the platform co-op Facebook groups in Portuguese and in German.

And more on the technical side of this work: 

CommonsCloud.coop, an alternative to corporate proprietary software clouds such as Google Drive and Dropbox. CommonsCloud.coop is in beta with more than 400 people and twenty companies. CommonsCloud is coordinated by femProcomuns.coop, a Catalan multi-stakeholder cooperative of consumers, users, and workers.

Cooperatives Europe is currently developing a new open-source software Knowledge Base.

Would you prefer an open-source alternative to leading corporate collaboration tools like Slack, Trello, and G Suite and all of that hosted on 100% renewable-energy-powered servers? Contact Josef Davies-Coates of the United Diversity Coop (josef@uniteddiversity.coop).

Since the PCC conference in NYC, Agaric has been busy working hard on building two platforms. There is the FindIT platform, a robust program locator, and the second is Drutopia. In the near future, Agaric will be offering what they call a Libre Software as a Service program, which will allow people to host their site through them, similar to online website builders but governed democratically. 

Emerging Platform Co-ops

VanWoow aims to bring tourism to places in Spain that are threatened by depopulation. It is a non-profit cooperative where participation is encouraged through the platform. VanWoow connects micro-villages and caravan travelers.

The award-winning French platform cooperative Les Oiseaux de Passage has been officially launched June 2019. Combining cultural offerings with a short-term rental, Les Oiseaux de Passage, is now offering 500 trips, accommodation, as well as activities including artistic productions in France, Belgium, and Italy. It’s the first and only platform co-op in tourism in which the local residents have the majority stake. The project started 10 years ago in the Northern district of Marseilles. Les Oiseaux de Passage has started a partnership with the platform co-op FairBnB.

PCC friend Faiza Haupt, the first female Uber driver in South Africa, has launched Trip Cooperative (app forthcoming).

Parti, a co-op comprised of democracy activists, are working to innovate and promote democracy in people’s daily lives in South Korea.

Launched in October 2019 in Catalonia, Educoop is an educational platform driven by individuals and organizations linked to the cooperative world. They promote cooperative culture, transformative education and the values ​​and practices of the social and solidarity economy.

VNGRD is a Brooklyn-based platform cooperative for podcasters. “We believe that the platforms on which we post should be owned by the communities they serve.” VNGR’s founder Samuel Peters wrote about "Cooperative Media for the Left."

Means TV, a worker-owned, people-funded streaming service is launching in February 2020. With no advertisers, no corporate backers, no VC cash, Means TV will stream television and movies for the 99%. The global launch event will be February 28, 2020, in Brooklyn. If you are in NYC, rush to get your tickets here. And if you are into anti-capitalist guillotine + cake T-shirts, they sell those, too

Katuma.org, a Catalan platform co-op where “all the co-operative partner organizations share, govern and co-own the software. The app does not belong to third parties but to all of us: this facilitates the responsible and cooperative use of data and knowledge that the platform generates.” 

Write to us with your new projects to be featured in our next newsletter! info@platform.coop

Policy Interventions

In Catalonia, Spain, municipal strategies for digital empowerment dictate how municipalities operate. Read the 47 measures for empowerment.

In February, NY State Assemblymember Ron Kim made a budget request for the PCC and the Platform Co-op Development Kit to the New York State Legislator. 

Books

Jamie Woodcock and Mark Graham just published The Gig Economy: A Critical Introduction. I wrote this for their back cover: “At a time when governments the world over turn away from workers, scholar-activists Woodcock and Graham offer a critical introduction to the global gig economy. They investigate innovative ways in which new forms of unions can help to tackle the Trojan Horse of gig labour.” 

The Lean Marketplace, jetzt auch in Deutsch. Was du wissen musst, bevor du ein Marktplatz-Business starten kannst? Wie du das richtige Geschäftsmodell auswählst? Wie du deinen Marktplatz in eine Community verwandelst? 

Articles & Blog Essays

PCC friend Salonie Hiriyur reveals how apps-based hiring platforms for domestic workers perpetuate misogyny.
-- Feminism in India

Mario de Conto comments on our November conference “Cooperativismo de plataforma ganha força pelo mundo-- Mundocoop

Uber is hoping to control the narrative about what “good work” entails. Read about the pushback in the UK. 
Uber and Deliveroo’s ‘Charter of Good Work’ is Nothing but Fairwashing-- Open Democracy

Fairbnb does not only have a new website,  it was also featured in The Washington Post: "Try out Fairbnb.coop. Now launched in a growing number of cities around the world, this nonprofit worker’s cooperative ... add restrictions to protect local housing. For example, in some places the community-driven platform requires the hosts to be residents of the area and limits the number of tourist properties they can have on the market. Although Fairbnb is still in its early stages, Francis said, “I think they’ve got a lot of things right.” You can read more hereFairbnb is also hiring.

Four scenarios on how a platform cooperative breakthrough might happen in the 2020s by Leo Sammallahti -- Coop Exchange 

Starting A Cooperative Platform: 10 Questions We Answeredby Austin Robey -- IOO Coop

The London-based tech co-op Common Knowledge discusses “The secret behind the Sanders campaign: people before tech-- The Guardian

As the “techlash hits college campuses,” would it not be amazing to see platform co-op chapters sprout up at universities? Let us know if you would like to start a chapter at your university at info@platform.coop 

Papers

Arne Pfeilsticker--  “The Co-op Money Infrastructure project aims to develop a global and decentralized infrastructure for payments and other financial services as well as financial instruments

Fredrik Andersson Bohman--  “Exploring the governance of platform cooperatives: A case study of a multi-stakeholder marketplace platform cooperative

Nathan Schneider-- "User trusts: broad-based ownership for online platforms"

Videos & Webinars

Cooperatives UK Webinar: Starting a Platform Co-op- How We Did It 
Wednesday, 11 March 2020 - 3:00 pm

The Australian author, activist, and legal scholar Lizzie O’Shea spoke at the PCC about tech worker resistance. Watch the video here. Learn more about the course/series of ICDE events this was part of.

The kind and committed team at Around the World Coop launched their video about Up&Go.coop.

Updates from the Platform Cooperativism Consortium in NYC


Take a look at some of the first details about the next PCC conference The New Common Sense: Building the Cooperative Digital Economy in Europe! Mark your calendars. Berlin, November 13-15, 2020.

We are involved in a pan-African event in Nairobi! PCC Research Fellow Mwongela Mikwa writes that Kenya's cooperative movement can tackle youth employment in Kenya with the help of platform co-ops. Reach out to us if you are interested. 

Terrific Job Opportunity in New York City 

Michael McHugh, Assistant Director of the PCC, was snapped away by Bernie Sanders 2020 Presidential Campaign where he will work as a member of their National Scheduling & Advance team. Write to us if you are interested in joining the PCC as a full-time staff member. The job posting will be public very soon.

The Platform Co-op Development Kit

The Platform Co-op Development Kit continues to evolve and move forward as a collaboration with the Inclusive Design Research Centre. The work ahead focuses on building an online resource library integrated at platform.coop website (going live very soon), and developing first iterations of share infrastructure for platform co-ops. Next, we will be working on a Community Voices section with countless community videos and an Events Page on http://platform.coop. We are also planning to offer the core content of the http://platform.coop website in 20 languages. Check out the project’s Fluid Project Wiki page online to read up on what’s next! And consider getting involved with our mapping project, to survey the global movement of digital co-ops! Reach out to Travis Higgins, Survey Project Lead, for how to take our short survey by writing to him at platformcoop@newschool.edu.

Ongoing Research on Platform Co-ops

The PCC has continued its on-going research projects exploring the potential for platform co-ops in India, funded through an Open Society Foundation grant, with additional explorations focused on the potential for platform co-ops in South Africa, Brazil.

Support Our Work

The Platform Co-op Consortium is a grassroots organization, dependent on the contributions of individuals and organizations who believe in fighting for a democratic, cooperative economy. Consider supporting our work by joining our Circle of Cooperators. Your contributions make our work possible.

 

We are concluding this newsletter with the platform coop anthem and Amor a mi clase by Pipe Díaz, a song we played at our November conference.

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