Platform Cooperativism: Challenging the Corporate Sharing Economy

Trebor Scholz, Rosa Luxemberg Siftung, Jan 17, 2016
Commentary by Stephen Downes
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"Despite all the scrumptious, home-cooked convenience of the 'sharing economy,'" writes Trebor Scholz, "we may end up sharing the scraps, not the economy." It's time for an alternative, he writes, and this alternative is the platform cooperative - a mechanism that employs the efficiencies of the internet for the benefit of the people doing the work, not some third party who simply owns a platform. "Silicon Valley loves a good disruption, so let’s give them one." Good overview with descriptions of mechanisms and underlying principles. 32 page PDF. See also the Platform Cooperativism website.

I've run my own experiments in platform cooperativism with the foundation of the Moncton Free Press. It hasn't gone as well as I would have liked, though I think it's performing a valuable service for the community. It needs more care and attention than I've been able to give it. And it needs, most of all, a revenue stream and a way of paying contributors and staff. But I think it's there, and if the NRC gig doesn't work out, I always have this to fall back on. Platform cooperativism is also a model for learning technology that does more than exploit students and authors for private sector gain.

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