3 Platforming

This project involves social.coop and its cultural environment. Social.coop is an international social venture which operates a platform instance of the free open software, Mastodon - a micro-blogging platform similar to Twitter.

In the world of #freecode production and use, social.coop is interesting in setting out to develop a cooperative form of governance over an internet platform service, while also serving a user community involved in coop ventures, federated #P2P production, open-value economic systems, the #solidarityecon and the #fediverse. In both respects, the social.coop venture connects significantly with FoP RoP work on commoning and making the use-value economy.

Social.coop is evolving dynamically, and growing in membership. It is however not easy to see what it’s up to, culture-wise and economy-wise or how it runs as a coop organisation. This is true for a member, as well as for outsiders/potential members. It might be a hacker-driven #freecode project. It might be a solidarity economy project - but whose employment will it promote and where, and what services does it aim to furnish, to whom? It might be a cultural-development development project, with #facilitating at the heart and  as its end.


Maybe it can be all of these - but then governance, across various classes of stakeholders and various aims, is pivotal. And effective modes and locations of self-representation for self-management and open culture are basic for achieving this.

In fact social.coop operates four platform-spaces - a Mastodon instance a Loomio group, a wiki and a chatroom. It also has a presence in the funding platform, Open Collective. None of these sites - at July 2018 - furnishes a straightforward picture of the ambitions of the venture, its view of itself and its commitments as an economic and cultural formation in #cloudspace or of the leading activist-entrepreneurs, their roles and the processes through which it achieves its cooperating and commoning ambitions. Cooperating and commoning don’t necessarily face the same way so the innovative #literacy in distributed cultural and economic practice that is involved - the ecology of #labourpowers and #infrastructure - is worth explicitly attending to and cultivating.

Yes, declaration of interest - I’m a facilitator not a tech (engineering degree, anthropologist practice). My activism is tools for conviviality (Illich) - that is, the #conviv that self-consciously located tools might facilitate.

Of course, activists are busy folks, with doing rather than documenting as a priority. But in such an important sphere of commons practice, self-representation is an important function - for steering in-here and also for contributing and community-supporting out-there. Traditionally in the freecode world this is done by protocols. But this is not a world of freecode, it’s a world of collaborative, apparatus-mediared practice for #nontech economic and cultural purposes. A whole lot more clarity would help evolve this complex and significant mix of aims.

As of July 2018 I’ve put my hand up for a role in the ‘editorial’ working group of social.coop, to work on such stuff. This part of FoP RoP reflects on this developmental activity, while also contributing to work in #usevalueecon and #patternlanguage.