Think Outside the Boss: Reimagining Digital Labor

I have been part of cooperatives all my life; I lived in communes, I work in a cooperative now. I experienced firsthand how they can put people at the center of the equation but, at the same time, obviously there is nothing paradisiacal about them. They are not the silver bullet for capitalism. Silicon Valley’s platform capitalists are zipping ahead while social movements, cooperatives, unions, and regulators are sluggish. But strengthening cooperatives is something that I and we can do right now.

It is true that some millennials might rather stress their individual careers instead of swearing allegiance to any given co-op. For hackers, “long tail workers,” and labor activists, now is the time to step up their efforts before the network effect chisels brands like Uber into stone. The network effect is part and parcel for platform capitalists. We’ll not have three or four taxi apps on our phones.

Instead of counting down to next month’s apocalypse — instead of polishing the bannister of the sinking Titanic — let’s make the idea of apps-driven worker-owned cooperatives, of design interventions, and other new forms of worker solidarity more plausible.

Read the full artilce at Public Seminar


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