Almost unnoticed, in the gaps and hollows of the digital economy, a new economy is emerging that follows a different ethical and financial logic. Platform cooperativism, as it has come to be called, is an emerging movement for democratic governance and collective ownership on the Internet and a fairer future of work. It is a concrete, near future alternative to the on-demand economy; it reclaims humane principles like mutuality, sympathy, and solidarity by bringing together the rich heritage of cooperativism with 21st-century technologies.
The pieces are coming into place. Freelancers are forming cooperatives to find clients and pool insurance through platforms of their own. Uber drivers are leaving the mothership, organizing in co-ops, and designing their own taxi apps. Photographers are offering their work for fair prices on a platform where they’re in charge, and journalists are crowdfunding news portals co-owned with their audiences. New decentralized networks are enabling people to share their data with each other without relying on a corporate cloud. Contrary to the rules of the dominant algorithmic gatekeepers, platform cooperativism puts the online economic infrastructure into the hands of the people who depend on it most.
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