2017/09/10 09:55 Nathan Schneider, “An Internet of Ownership”, Disrupting the Disruptors

Workshop @ntnsndr @CoopsCanada #platformcoop, platformcoop.ca/, Beeton Room, Toronto Public Library

This digest was created in real-time during the meeting,based on the speaker’s presentation(s) and comments from the audience. The content should not be viewed as an official transcript of the meeting, but only as an interpretation by a single individual. Lapses, grammatical errors, and typing mistakes may not have been corrected. Questions about content should be directed to the originator. The digest has been made available for purposes of scholarship, posted by David Ing.

Introduction by Brendan Denovan, Communications Manager, Co-operatives and Mutuals Canada

[Nathan Schneider] scholar-in-residence of media studies, University of Colorado Boulder

Nathan Schneider

First conference in 2015 in NYC, no coop sponsor

  • New generation wasn’t connected to the existing sector
  • An opportunity to start thinking systemically

Calibre of projects heard yesterday have been high

  • Started noticing, as a reporter, that a lot of people are doing the same thing, and not seeing each other

Platforms aren’t just a web site for your credit union

  • Creating connections amongst people
  • Forms of creation

Coop sector has come to blend in its corporate stage

  • International Cooperative Alliance 1995 principles
  • Faux sharing economy


A play on the Internet of Things

  • Looking at varieties

Marjorie Kelly:  Owning Our Future

  • Can cooperative strategies help us with appropriate ownership designs?
  • True stakeholders


  • Stocksy
  • Green Taxi, Boulder, CO
  • Loconomics
  • SMart EU
  • Managed by Q, value creators as value owners

Data:  between business and work blurring

  • Midata.coop:  Swiss, owned by patients to store medical data, financed by doing medical research
  • AgXchange, farmers looking to extend, taking control over data from machines

Strategies for Code:

  • P2P Peer Production License, allowing across coops, but not other organizations
  • Open Collective, not a cooperative, designed for open source software communities, a gateway towards a one-click cooperative

Have to think about technology differently

  • Federated social networks, as compared to centralized
  • Cooperative models could allow decentralized technologies

Not just replicating an existing business, do something different

CU Ledger:  blockchain

  • Blockchain as removal of trust, but credit unions thinking about how we take advantage of trust

Finance:  rent capital, don’t be rented by it

  • Less anxious about this problem, it may solve itself
  • As coop sectors have developed, they’ve developed their own finance

Purpose Ventures, Europe and U.S., designed for companies that aren’t going to be sold

  • Looks a lot like an old-style coop
  • Can do tech financing in a friendly way

Crowdfunding:  6Fund, blockchain platform based in Berlin

  • Bringing back shared ownership

Education:  Need to train owners, not just workers

  • Relationship to platforms different

Lee Altenberg, “Beyond Capitalism:  Leland’s Stanford’s Forgotten Visions“, Winter 1980, Stanford Historical Society

  • Original principles

Enspiral Dev Academy in NZ:  code academy that is a feed

Can learn from open source communities, e.g. Debian

Loomio, produced by Enspiral, helping to make decisions online

Policy:  policy-makers have biases towards investor-owners

  • They’re stuck, they need help, e.g. against Uber

Jeremy Corbyn has included platform coops as part of digital democracy movement

Austin, ATX Coop Taxi

Who will own the robots?

Don’t get too fixated on the software, there’s a human and physical underlayer

  • Encouragement of Fairphone as sustainably sourced

James Peter Warbasse, Cooperative Democracy, 1936, president, The Cooperative League of the United States

  • We can build coop to scale

We can figure out how to build to scale in the online economy, too

Need to look for models for startups, spin-offs

  • federation:  pooling resources
  • early stage exits, so that startups getting some traction can start selling to users
  • coop conversion as a successful exist

Big systemic questions:

  • An option against monopoly in the online world?
  • In the U.S., interplay with antitrust

In progress collaborative mapping

Collaborative mapping at http://is.gd/E7G0vj to https://docs.google.com/drawings/d/104K0T2H3M39i5qm6y7y4LcTyusGCMoys60vyeZYoBEM

  • Inside the circle, we have it; outside the circle we don’t
  • Four sectors:  Culture, Finance, Policy, Tech
Collaborative mapping of ecosystem

Collaborative mapping of ecosystem (with contributions in real time in the meeting)

More coop practices:  open membership, autonomy from government?

  • In local jurisdictions, may be regulations on who can call themselves coop
  • .coop domain is controlled, follow international agreements

Is cooperative tech different?  Do we need to do our own R&D?

  • Coop in Boulder doesn’t have a way of tracking dividends

Comment:  At Stocksy, found that were building a proprietary tool

  • Would love to open source our software, if someone else could use it
  • Could copy and paste, but then wouldn’t have connections
  • Need a dev shop, rather than a just a repository

It’s not one size fits all, more than any other coop

Comment:  Marketing part of a coop, don’t know who to turn to.  Documented case study?

Could learn from existing startup space

  • Articles on how startup platforms got their first 1000 users

Do we want a unified brand, or do we want to operate in different spaces?

Comment:  How to explain who we are, so not only other coops, but also getting funding

In some places, more of a national coop plan

  • But then one bad apple could brand the whole thing bad

Comment:  Experimentation, hack events, for chance of manifesting more broadly

  • Finding a way to bolster experimentation

Could be a deeper side of challenge for coops

  • For investor-backed, want to exceed investor’s expectation, which leads to more risk, and there will be more failure
  • Coops tend to emerge in response to people’s known needs, could make innovation hard, or come a little less naturally
  • There are places where this isn’t the case, have been to manufacturing operations as not just serving members, but also future generations, a culture of forward-looking
  • What is our relationship to risk?  to innovation?
  • Pooled risk in young startups, taking risk, and knowing that you may or may not succeed
  • How do we create a space for risk on this map?

#coopscanada, #disruptingthedisruptors