Matt Slater responds to the rise of the #PlatformCooperativism movement by issuing a call for #ProtocolCooperativism:
I have lot of sympathy for Matt Slater's arguments for Protocol Cooperativism. This is essentially the songbook I was singing from, since the late 90s, and throughout my time working on the Aotearoa localizations of #Indymedia and #CreativeCommons. But in hindsight, those songs were naive. As Matt points out within his own essay, capitalists have already figured out ways to dominate open networks based on open protocols (eg Microsoft's "embrace, extend, extinguish"). Ownership matters.
@mayel @matslats to be clear, I'm not arguing against open protocols. I'm saying they've proved to be necessary but not sufficient. Open protocols alone haven't stopped #DataFarms dominating chat (gOgle started out embracing and extending XMPP, then effectively extinguished it by de-federating and switching to WebRTC). They haven't stopped them dominating the web (embracing and extending HTTP on both server and client ends). There are numerous other examples.
What allows them to dominate? They have financial resources smaller players don't. For example, they can pay as many fulltime staff as they need to make their products and services more attractive than more freedom-respecting alternatives. They can get their PR posters slapped up all over major cities. Protocols + cooperatives offers us a way to compete with this. The point of Platform Cooperativism is that neither can do it alone, which is what Matt's essay seems to miss.
@bhaugen @mayel apologies @matslats , when I read the second part of your essay more carefully I see you are essentially making same argument I am making here. I guess it comes down to our understanding of the rather loose term "platform". To me the net, the web, and the fediverse (everything connected via ActivityPub) are platforms. You seem to use it in your essay to specifically describe centralized infrastructures.
That's the way I use it, too. My understanding of platform cooperatives is they are centralized infrastructures owned by a cooperative, that is, owned by their participants depending on the type of co-op.
Is any of that wrong? I am always ready to be wrong and learn something new.
@bhaugen @mayel @matslats your definition is becoming a common one, and is perfectly valid. But "platform" is a fairly loose term. People have talked about OS as platforms (eg "the GNU/Linux platform), network protocols as platforms (the web as a platform), and so on. It's one of those terms that needs to be defined for the purpose of any given discussion, so we don't end up talking past each other ;)
@bhaugen @mayel @matslats again, I think the whole platform cooperativism thing is too new to assume a single, common definition of "platform". If you look at Uber, AirBnB, or TaskRabbit, I would argue that software or server infrastructure are not the platform, but rather the database of vendors and customers, and the things that make them trust it (mainly reputation and payment systems). So if these are decentralized via a protocol as @matslats proposes, I'd argue it's still a "platform".
@bhaugen @mayel @matslats to explain what I mean by analogy, take cash as a platform for transactions. You can't do cash without paper or metal, but the materials are not the guts of the platform. Rather it's the reputation and security systems (eg state backing, watermarks, anti-forgery enforcement) that make cash a platform people trust and use. You can't set up a cooperative to replace cash as a platform just by printing bills or minting coins (something cryptobugs often don't seem to get)
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