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.

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@strypey Don't you think "embrace, extend, extinguish" depends on us accepting their propositions though? (eg. using Github), maybe out of convenience, cost saving, or even necessity (eg. using it to survive capitalism).

Hence we need networked alternatives (making them protocol-based means we can achieve 'network effects' and scale cooperatively, rather than each small initiative having to fight that battle again and again) that are not only convenient and attractive to use, but which also help us thrive economically (something @matslats and others have been working on for a long time)...

@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.

@mayel @matslats
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.

@strypey They can afford to produce as many loss leaders as they want to leave every small shop out of business.

@mayel @matslats

@h @mayel @matslats true, but one effective way to compete with that is a pitch based on shared values. I envision the digital equivalent of organic grocery cooperatives computing with corporate supermarkets or independent coffee house cooperatives competing with corporate cafe chains #DigitalCafes

@strypey I get you, and your idea fits in nicely with the concept of 'exodus' that @KevinCarson1 has written about extensively. The problem I see is that most cooperativists (especially in fiercely capitalist countries) are unaware of their own impossibility of being truly cooperative honouring all 7 ideals and pursuing capitalist objectives at the same time. 9 out of 10 adopt the cooperative form, but functionally they behave like a typical corp in everything but name.

@mayel @matslats

@strypey Most actually existing cooperatives still behave under the logic of competition and the capitalist production mode by default. It's not enough to say "we're a cooperative, we're good people". We should rather ask "Is this org really fostering collaboration and helpibg to produce common wealth beyond itself?". If the answer is "Yes, but..." then that really means "No".

@KevinCarson1 @mayel @matslats

"we're a cooperative, we're good people".
IMO it's not about 'values' - whatever they may be . . some kinda idealist arm-waving? Rather, actual relations of production, actual material articulation of forces of production? What joins up with what, in practice? Eg, are there commons being curated and stewarded, or just more consumers and workers seeking comfort? Is laying so much stress on 'values' one of the weakest things about coops?
@strypey @KevinCarson1 @mayel @matslats

@mike_hales @h @KevinCarson1 @mayel @matslats don't underrate the importance of values. The Four Freedoms are an articulation of a set of values. So are the permaculture ethics. They summarize, in simple terms, how production will and won't be done by an organisation that shares them. They allow for informal coordination of effort on a much larger scale than any set of formal MoUs.

@mike_hales @h @KevinCarson1 @mayel @matslats
For example, I can buy certified organic food and have reasonable confidence that I am supporting growers using sustainable practices, without personally inspecting their farms. That's possible because the word "organic" stands in for a shared set of values around sustainable land use. It's not an ironclad guarantee, but it's a big improvement on just buying anything and hoping for the best.


'Values' . . I'm sensitive to the power of stories & the need to do storytelling skilfully. Meme-wise, words press buttons! I just don't believe there are such things as values. That's just a story we tell, a meme (which clearly is rather powerful for many people).

Too much ontologising here!

'Organic' I see as a hint of certain actual practices, with particular material relationships & consequences. A one-word story that I might choose to believe.
@h @KevinCarson1 @mayel @matslats

@mike_hales I think we substantially agree here. But I feel obliged to point out that if values don't exist, neither does production. They're both typed of storytelling about systems of physical interactions between humans and resources. Values are stories about means, productions are stories about ends.
@h @KevinCarson1 @mayel @matslats

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