A Checklist For Platform Cooperativism
Publish date: March 13, 2018
Last updated: December 3, 2019
Last updated: December 3, 2019
Checklist for a Platform cooperativeness
- Can you make a platform for an existing co-op? In a culture that values ideas over practices, it might be hard to see the existing cooperatives around. But, there are many systems of mutual aid and cooperation nearby. These “platforms” are systems of self-determination and survival created by people who have been systematically denied resources through institutionalized racism, sexism, and classism. These initiatives are often not lifestyle choices made by educationally privileged people. they are robust and powerful community networks with organizers who might be interested in adding an online platform to their work. Here is an often-overlooked challenge: try to join and add to existing cooperative platforms, rather than building your own from scratch. The result will likely last longer as it will be informed by the deep wisdom of existing cooperative community norms, roles, and rules. Perhaps we need something like the Center for Urban Pedagogy for cooperative software—an organization that matches grassroots groups with developers to build software that is driven by community need.
- Who will build the cooperative platform? Innovation occurs most readily in small teams with shared goals but different skill sets. Big groups, on the other hand, are good for education and organizing work, and for refining existing platforms. But to innovate, I like to work in core teams of three to six people, as this allows for deep relationships, shared memory, and relatively fast decision making, since each person can speak for ten to twenty minutes per hour in meetings. The collective Temporary Services says that every person you add to the group doubles the amount of time it takes to make a decision. So, I say: build a small group of rigorous, generous experts whose past work demonstrates that they are aligned with the cooperative platform you want to make. Ask the larger group to consent to the expertise of your small team, and ensure that your small team will make room for feedback from the big group along the way.
- How much time and money do you have? Plan for turnover by having clear systems of documentation and open conversations about how to bring in people who might join the core team when someone has to leave. Be sure that the Developer(s) code in teams, or that an Advisor looks over the code, so that it is intelligible to your other Developers. Be sure that the Project Manager and Communications Pro share leadership and responsibility, crafting a clear process for new people to join the core team, moving from roles of assistance to core membership in months.
- What if you ran events and hired a community organizer instead of building software? Last of all, consider the possibility that you could make a greater impact on cooperative culture and resource-sharing in your community by hosting events rather than building a new cooperative platform online. Software does not run itself; it must be maintained and upgraded by developers who can easily make tons of money working on non-cooperative platforms. Be honest about your ability to put in long hours and to raise the funds to sustain the development and constant upgrading of online networks for years. Until we have cooperative investment platforms for cooperative ventures, you will have to look for philanthropic support or venture capital that might alter your mission and that will rarely sustain the initiative for years.