How Platform Cooperativism Can Unleash the Network


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How Platform Cooperativism Can Unleash the Network
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Scholz, Trebor
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The distrust of the dominant extractive model of the "sharing economy" is growing. Labor and logistics companies such as Uber have been criticized for eliminating democratic values such as accountability, dignity, and rights for workers. Using various examples, Scholz will introduce what he calls platform cooperativism, an Internet based on communal ownership and democratic governance. Let's move the economy in a direction that benefits more citizens. Silicon Valley loves a good disruption; let’s give them one.
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home the and the new so in
1998 I moved to resign Francisco they moved into a small Buddhist temple and in the temple the 1st thing I
did is I use to call my savings and a bought is small the IBM laptops and my spiritual comrades in that community said why why would you possibly do that why would you buy a computer if the community on this 1 already so for may even though working about the internet I had never really thought about the computers beyond individual used and in terms of collective ownership the so for me that the 1st encounter the to that genuine sharing economy so over the past 5 years now jumping a little bit to the more recent past we saw the technological ingenuity of the sharing economy deeply resonating with these like guys right so sure initially there are projects like college surveying and blah blah call which we have really about genuine human connection they were really about underutilized resources and they really about Open Data right to just like my buddhist friends back then the pioneers of this economy proposed to splits the use of more and more and more those costs and other belongings right drills so for them this was really about a challenge to income inequality and got the power but at the same time we also saw the renaissance of the solidarity economy and we're and social movements might remember occupy you
remember the community land trusts that emerged in the last few years the credit unions farmers markets or this tech cooperatives there's a real renaissance of that will last 3 years but soon
the non-commercial values that we are behind platforms behind these platforms very written in the boardrooms of Silicon Valley turning the sharing economy really into a misnomer so generous that we're being shared and sharing really turned into a sharing yeah today facing barriers imaginaries about the future of work really need to remind ourselves that there's
no unstoppable evolution all of of this year ization of society right so there's nothing logical or innate about that the research so I ternatives absolutely possible an Internet of People is absolutely feasible so what are some of these competing visions so in his book averages over Tyler Cowen B conservative economists that you may have read in the time so books like air averages over for sees a future where the tiny hyper meritocracy would make millions while the rest of us struggle to survive when anywhere between 10 and 15 thousand dollars a year and so on so this supplied by free and and that and can beings that he imagines to work quite well and he points
to Mexico with supposedly all of that is working quite nicely already he grants says that the weather is nice so there so you know sleeping outdoors and stuff it's kind of
easier but then there is also a call friday and Michael last that would predict that 40 % Percent of all jobs on risk of being automated over the next 20 so over the next 20 years
and sides there is the sharing economy by which I have no doubts uh when thinking about platform on as like Travis chronic are and Jeff pesos Lucas is the wilds of rebirth Amazon and CrowdFlower that in the absence of government government regulate government the relation and resistance from workers will simply exploits there under valued workers so I'm referring to this as fleecing so it's really like what you can see here is
like a trickle down effect right at the trickle down effects of the sharing economy where the profits are trickling down to the platform on so I am all
on board red with Paul Mason and Kathy reaches this the visions for a post-capitalist post capitalist force work future where a universal basic income the role the way we think about life opportunities the final name it's less work right at before and universal basic income but in the meantime let's find but work and a bed to sleep and in the United States however unlike in
Finland a universal basic income is highly unlikely to become a reality over the next few years so the question then really becomes think what can we do right
now with and fall that's a contingent part of the American workforce is 1 3rd of the American workforce 53 4 million Americans out freelancers and contingent workers which are all unlikely to see a return of the traditional safety net the 40 hour work week and a steady paycheck to what can we do for them right now today's Internet bears little resemblance to the upper design non-commercial decentralized posts but make the network today we're finding that the sources of entertainment so when we go on the search on the computer in the morning to find entertainment or to were to work or to play to talk about to enter these feedback loops of social networking
sites we find that they are all owned by a handful of people and maybe 50 stockholders in Silicon
Valley and I think that is unacceptable
so we're talking about privacy we're talking about big data we talk about that data talking about x is for all and these are all incredibly important topics but there's never any talk about on ship the so it is for this reason that I propose the theory of platform cooperative isn't in 2014 to workers in the
on-demand economy are called upon to live like the lions to be you know the 2 end on channel the underpin their and to lift the
flexibility and autonomy that as promised to them and but with slightly more flexibility also come more risk and harsher taskmasters the average on-demand economy where guns at 7 thousand 900 dollars a year through labor platform so that shows you also that most of them are part time so the question is also what are really the most
vulnerable participants in this economy often disregarded so all of the workers it actually pushed out by the current of on-demand workers so if you think about the you would drive we talk about the workers on Mechanical Turk that underpaid that would be a very really focusing on the people that are pushed out of the market by them we were drivers of 40
% college-educated and far more white than traditional legacy tax businesses the drivers and those sector businesses firms also activate so we see in addition to all that in nullification of the law so their companies knowingly violate city regulations and labor laws
which allows and then to create a car a consumer base to which they can point and say seeing like this is what the created all these people does a lot of our service so probably your laws arcane and you might want to change them so firms also activating their
ad space consumers as a grass-roots movement so we saw this in the system result in uh Barcelona and in New York City right with me I try to curb the
number of you taxis and so they put in uh in the future in the act that basically allow them to lobby to City Hall thereby
almost removing the male right creating so much pressure so for every Cuban this isn't and that privacy should also be
a concern for workers and customers the was analyzing their routines from their one-night stands at and through their daily commute to then impose such pricing when they must rely on the service think about that next time you're going on 1 of those so there's a navigation of the leader gray zones that these deregulated
commerce have sometimes misclassify workers misclassified employees
as independent contract workers they're calling them Turkers drive partners rabbits and
but never workers right so hidden behind the internet the curtain of the Internet all these companies they they're really trying to pretend that they had tech companies when in fact their labor companies so think about that in all of that in this context that in the decade between
2000 and 2010 the median income in the United States declined by 7 % so when adjusted for inflation in 2014 51 % of all Americans made
less than 30 thousand dollars a year 76 per cent of them had no savings at all since the seventies we see uh a concerted effort to move people out of direct employment and which has led to a steady growth of a number of of the number of independent contractors and freelancers so you can't really think of digital labor as a child of the low-wage crisis right it's part of this process that took unraveled over the last 40 years as part of which by which basically signaled the end of employment for the past could really easily be our future if you just think about the fact that employment isn't really that all that idea in itself the so I ask what is the sharing economy really gotten us collectively so beyond the consumer convenience of course it's much easier to spend money right i ends the if there's also a lot of efficiency in creating short-term profits for a few platform owners it has demonstrated in
terms of social well-being and environmental sustainability kabbalism turns out to be amazingly ineffective In watching out for people so seemingly overnight the gains of more than 100 years of labor struggles so from the Haymarket riots in 1886 to the shirt shirtwaist factory in 1911 have been stalled
the seemingly the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 has no pull at all anymore very little because they are so you know far fewer employees so among all of these problems related to for 21st century labor I think the biggest problem really is yeah that there are so few alternatives that so few
people actually propose alternatives but their and I will identify a few approaches so the 1st approach is based on the belief of negotiation with copper donors and the government of the Domestic Workers Alliance
that had in hopes that basically created the good work quote which allows them to define certain guidelines for digital work which they then whole platform owners would adapt so Obama and also so they can now they can go to amazon table is you Obama like that so maybe you would like to and and you can of course hopeful regulation there was an interesting case in that it states right now we're a major yogurt producer to body decided to return to work ownership by giving a large part of his business to his employees to the workers in stocks Seattle impose a tax
on labor and the Teamsters are now representing the drivers in that city as me the blood 0 index the made attempts to up the number of you with taxes in the street and the city of summonses tried to come to regulate Mb
mb the 3rd pathway is to take your production out of the market altogether right to to remove yourself from the market just like the DPD you got Bentler talked about this in the obviously were wrote The Wealth of Networks about this topic and finally all the compensated for the compensated labor market there's a 4th approach which is platform cooperative isn't to try to say that 3 times fast words and which is the model the layer of social organization based on the understanding that it is hard to substantially change what you dawned on me right so my thinking about that from problem is most much to the
digital era conferences at the new school that they started in 2009 so I've worked on this topic since 2008 at least and I had decided
in 2009 and the rear various other conferences and this and that in
2004 or continued up to 2015 where actual convenes a platform properties was Nathan Schneider which drew some thousand 500 people and so initially these events really about by commercial surveillance
and artists like work Hurricane Alex Rivera Dimitri kind as Stephanie Rosenberg theorists like it's an eternal values in the Comoros they alter the public's attention to this digital work words but later the discussion became more concerned with prob fleecing the exploitations of thousands of invisible
workers uh into systems like Amazon Mechanical Turk but at 1 point I ask myself you do I really want to shine in the banister
of the sinking Titanic of employment or do I want to look for alternatives and so I decided to dedicate myself more to looking for alternatives so the the array of platform problem is and then has to main maintenance which is a communal ownership and democratic governance is bringing together a hundred and 35 years of workers self-management with
170 years off the cooperative movement so and as well as to bring the commons-based peer production together with us into this digital economy so the term platform this sort of terrified that 4 you know what of the 4 people among the audience will not be so there are these are basically I'm thinking about places where we hang out and work tinker and so I could generate value been the switch on our phones or computers and the cooperative isn't this is about ownership models for labor and logistics platforms or online
marketplaces that can replace the likes of you go with cooperatives so in a nutshell this slide means to take this technology that Cuba and the sharing economy offers embraced the technology rip out the corporate heart of and fuel lived with cooperatives and and that the values in the court that those probative would represent that's the key value so seriously because ask yourself you know why would a village in Denmark or a town like molfile rule Texas a PA generate profits for the 50 people in Silicon Valley running at the in the red so this is exactly what's happening why and I'm in Berlin just change that with the recent ruling out and the birds uh be you know why which cities all over the world generate profit for a few people in Silicon Valley instead of creating community value communally community wealth through a website that is run by their on city that's basically mandates short-term rentals with with their platform and then have the profits grew into their community instead of the beautiful Bay area so this is not just a pipe dream has as I'm not just walking in Jesus sandals as used in German and so touch calls already exist slides so this Internet of people is already in the making there is the are cooperatively owned online labor brokerage market the marketplace for Mundo the global decentralized Online Marketplace on by its local users and they are having a pledge right now if you want to become a shareholder you can
were to the outside and do that I also mentioned a video streaming site that is owned by filmmakers and their friends all imagine a new that is owned by its
drivers like the French BTC cap or arcade city which is another project all imagine a goal crowdfunded media called like positive news all the mentioned stock photography side owned by the photographers who sell their works on its stock the so now after giving you
the sort of like really brief examples let me
go a little bit more into detail so in Brooklyn where I live rule Brooklyn but we have a base in Sunset Park we this the Sunset Park family center which basically represents 9 cooperative offload income immigrants and you see uh 1 of them in action so this is beyond K and this is the work of the UN care which is 1 of these cooperatives and so so they are offering childcare services area under the same umbrella CC pour out which is uh cooperative that as a home cleaning and then there's also pet care in the same that word so an
financed by the Robin Hood Foundation and exited they created a platform that would help to put them to compete in the digital
market and so the cut called co-op affine quantify and it will be launched in the fall and so here you have and this various problems are
solved it so they're looking at how to pay workers was sometimes and undocumented which means it cannot be paid through credit cards so they found a way of paying them and catch even though the side is operated through this and at its centre etc. so you and you see workers already talking about how their concrete situation can be improved by by this projects so our basically you will when the platform will launch it will let users select the service the needs housecleaning childcare op-ed clear and workers icon
of can basically be empowered through this so let me Ted talk a little bit about that if you reactions to this idea so in libelous your a Banach Stiegler identified as a public platform probative isn't as 1 alternative to the resolution of society and they're really countless articles from Wired magazine to the mall the washing the nation shareable yes magazine Fast Company and now they also
events and really in very many cities so focus focusing on this topic from Berlin to London Bologna became an Melbourne Vancouver Budapest many other cities I wrote an Introduction to Pattern probative isn't and would have really evolved as in German for you and will be translated and available through the was Lexmark condition at the end of
me and so for now you have an english version which will also be trying to that and all these other languages here and in the summer I'm not in this book you were really marked and underpaid how workers as a taking back the Digital
Economy and his 2nd book that I added it was Nathan Schneider the Oscar 60 authors to say so you want to start an online platform that is cooperative what do you need what do people need to know if they want to do this so this book is also coming out both of them in early in the all only for so also very importantly uh my friend and colleague Nathan Schneider created a directory of platform port so that we can track this emerging ecosystem because of the Internet of ownership so that's also a you well that you can go to so what is next platform codes could be
attractive options for home care home health care professionals all pensioners who need extra cash in the United States as 650 thousand people were released from prison every year with a very hard time to find well-paid and dignified work it could be a place for them it could also be an attractive option for refugees who in countries like Sweden and sometimes take up to eat 2 years to find their 1st job in that new country so with this model workers can become a collective owners they don't have to subscribe to this pathology of this old system that train them to be followers and
Internet users you know so few people will feel drawn to any of this kind of abstractions they they are not really convinced by any sort of abstract guidelines or rules about I think once people are committed they really have to be some values that people agree upon and guidelines as well so in all strong the little political scientist reminded us that aspiring to create alternatives without rigorous study is a pipe dream right so being realistic about cooperative culture is essential from the history of properties the United States we see that we learned that there basically uh I can offer is stable income and a
dignified workplaces right so these 2 things you can say from history and like from studying and but we also learn that from
this necessary in through the Asimov makers who would like to know do a lot of arm waving and you also have to find this is really begrudge looking scholars uh were really skeptical of all of this and these 2 worlds really have to talk right because they really can learn from each other
at but education and study and research is really an essential cornerstone of platform property was so 1st of all I talked about communal ownership seconds as a platform
called have to be able to offer income sequences as security as in India Romania this area of Italy where there are many cooperative businesses receive far less unemployment and in other areas of really but in the of course Mondragon is always given as a successful example in Spain was
always 74 thousand members as a
cooperative in the United States probative businesses have been very successful in areas like orange juice production and bots also faces many challenges right competition and for multinational giants public awareness if you haven't have a self exploitation the network effect etc. so we need to really also show a transparency of the algorithms right this is where they have to distinguish themselves as well they have to show where the data about customers and workers of stored to whom they are sold and for what purpose so we're going to form cooperatives also needs to be core determined so from the very 1st day the designers have to work with the people for whom they are designing and who they would like to work for that platform there has to be a protective legal framework and much else
so and it's hard platform probit is is really not about any particular technology is not about and have right it's not about technical solution is and it's not about you know how to change the role of click here as of today most of it but it is really about the marriage of a
live at the marriage of cooperative ism and so the internet rights that online economy In the absence of rigorous the Democratic debates online labor giants really up producing a version of the future right in front of us they're producing that right now and so fast we really have to move quickly right so this is not something that you can think all this I was of this panel at 3 o'clock that so let's put this into our special and maybe 2 years from now we're working on there's no you know like this has to be worked on right now and I think this is also where the urgency we feel that in North America at least to produce this kind of work comes so we need an alliance of cities like Berlin barcelona Paris is an area where all pushing back against the sharing economy right need a consortia for platform property is so you can and follow up because it will be very little time for questions you can follow up and get involved in that stage t that's as 645 where Thomas Durant bring the lights global head up a the workshop content from probative isn't is already a group in berlin that is dedicated to that and so on so you can join us 625 stage t so to wrap up what we really need is a genuine sharing culture genuine sharing culture just like the 1 that I experience in that buddhist center all this time ago right we need incubators small experiments with these kinds of technologies step-by-step walkthroughs legal templates for online co-ops that developers need to write a WordPress of platform properties and that can be used and to build this free software platform so that not everybody has to reinvent the wheel over and over and at last this isn't merely about countering destructive visions of the future and this is really about like I said bringing together technology and cooperative isn't and then to learn and see what it can do for our children for our children's children and for their children into the future thank you chose souls thank you very much and whether the very short break belts 2 or 3 minutes is a set up the uh computed and then will back talk to him an


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