***Archival video of this segment is available here.***
When markets fail, and government safety nets break down, people turn to each other. All across the planet, they form platform co-ops during a pandemic so they can help their community and make a living wage delivering food. R. Trebor Scholz contends that when we see tech platforms deny workers a living wage, benefits, a right to organize while also widening economic inequality, cooperative principles can assist in establishing a pluralistic commonwealth. To get there, platform co-ops must scale. But unlike traditional tech platforms, they are not about maximizing profit for investors or going public; they scale differently. They scale more affordably than brick-and-mortar co-ops. They scale by creating networks of smaller cooperatives that are then able to compete. They scale more quickly because members of the co-op can be anywhere in the world, and they scale democracy because power can be decentralized through distributed ledgers. Scholz will demonstrate how these cooperatives scale deep and wide. However, in order for this movement to succeed, instructors at law and business schools must educate their students about cooperative ownership of the Internet, incubators must include platform co-ops, and unions must create them. Ultimately, Scholz encourages ethical, social impact investors to consider them if they want to leave an unrivaled legacy of equality.
Trebor Scholz Researcher, author, New School professor, and Founding Director of the PCC