On to the Platform Cooperative


Trebor Scholz

Most internet platforms belong to a hand full of companies in Silicon Valley. Trebor Scholz sees this state of affairs as unacceptable. In his talk on the mainstage on Day 3, part of the topic focus "Call It Work", he delivers an alternative: Platform Cooperativism.

"It's hard to change things that don't belong to you" Trebor Scholz, Associate Professor at the New School in New York City, stated at the re:publica TEN. Even when discussing topics such as the Sharing Economy, people hardly spend any time talking about who these big internet platforms, such as Uber or AirBnB, actually belong to.

"For every Uber, there's also an under" said Scholz. Platforms and companies that are only subject to the rules of free competition, and aren't regulated, often falsely classify their employees — as partners or independent subcontracted worker. "The companies state that they do their business with technologies, when they actually base it around their workers." For example, as an illustration of the effects, the middle income earners in the USA saw their wages drop by seven percent between 2000 and 2010. "Digital work is part of the low-wage crisis."

Scholz’ alternative to the Sharing Economy is Platform Cooperativism. "It isn't about a specific technology, but about connecting the internet with a real sense of community." A platform like Coopify, which is being launched in Autumn and will connect workers from low-wage sectors to the digital job market on their own conditions, is just one example of this. Platform Cooperativism unites common property with democratic management structures. "We need a real, authentic culture of sharing" Scholz demanded.

Photo credit: re:publica/Gregor Fischer (CC BY 2.0)