Here is an interesting thought to post to a mastodon instance. From Dmytri Kleiner via P2P Foundation:

"Going back to an early Internet architecture of cooperative, decentralized servers, as projects such as Diaspora, GNU Social, and others are attempting to do, will not work. This is precisely the sort of architecture that anti-disintermediation was designed to defeat. Decentralized systems need to be designed to be counter-anti-disintermediationist."

@wu_lee he is right, but not for the reasons he provides. The problem is that platforms like Diaspora, GNU Social, Mastodon etc... all rely on ISPs to exist. Kleiner's idea of "[platforms] run[ning] on the computers of the platform’s users" won't solve a thing: ISPs can still lock people the fuck out of the internet as they please. Cooperatively owned ISPs are the only long-term solution to the anti-disintermediation problem.

@Antanicus @wu_lee if you know other languages used in "less free" countries or what they would *look* like, even if you turn off every Masto language filter you rarely see content from there.

I've also seen toots from would be admins in/linked to these countries who point out you often have to register a social media service with govt and be personally responsible for it!

Mastodon is left alone by ISPs in "West" because its harmless, but quite resource hungry so they can profit from it!

@vfrmedia @wu_lee my point exactly. As long as ISPs will be centralized, govenrment-controllable, for-profit corporate entities, decentralization will fail.

@Antanicus @wu_lee not even always "govt interference" which is a threat.

FR govt is very supportive of Mastodon and govt funded techies even have their own instance! FR also has private hosting company OVH which affordable for Masto instances and also accepts foreign customers.

Like many lower cost hosts OVH made *business* decision not to fully test emergency power, and when a 20 000V power line was disrupted externally genset switchover failed, and many instances were disrupted.

@vfrmedia @wu_lee this squarely falls into the "for-profit corporate entities" category I listed :)

@Antanicus: do you mean "ISP" as in a "internet connection provider" (like AOL, BT, Virgin Media) rather than "hosting service" (like whatever runs

So agreed, as but both can be counter-d15n'ed, wouldn't full anti-counter-d15n of the *gateways* (as I think you mean) require a mesh network, because the telco infrastructure is private and c-d15n'able?

> do you mean "ISP" as in a "internet connection provider" (like AOL, BT, Virgin Media) rather than "hosting service" (like whatever runs
-Yes, ISP stands for "internet service provider". Some of those also offer hosting services too, but that's not relevant.

- the telco infrastructure is private and c-d15n'able? That's why we need to overtake it and cooperatively own it. Local telcos need be the main target for this

@Antanicus @wu_lee alas there was even a point in Britain (late 19th/early 20th century where many telcos *were* locally owned (albeit by the Council) if not private companies; but because they *wouldn't* federate the Govt nationalised them into the Post Office and (as political views changed) later privatised as British Telecom, with the exception of Hull in Northern England. This remained in Council ownership until quite recently when the *citizens* of Hull *voted* to let it be privatised.


@Antanicus @wu_lee

Secure Scuttlebutt is aiming to be run on user hardware only. And to be connection/communication method agnostic.

So is a possible mechanism to counter this.


Another somewhat as proposed here

"goTenna" is a smart-phone based mesh network. The speaker asks at the "Blockchain Summit" how to create an incentive for users to run nodes.

@Antanicus @vfrmedia

I was wondering if could be a potential means to incent users to run mesh network nodes (it already has a model for running hosting space). You get credit for hosting.

@vfrmedia @Antanicus @alanz

@wu_lee @Antanicus @alanz all interesting projects but mesh networks require experience with radio comms on top of traditional networking, a skillset that currently is lacking in younger generations (more common amongst older folk who have done military service!).

To get "network effect" we really need things that can work with existing fixed and mobile telephones and are not merely confined to techs/geek types with advanced computer skills, and a co-op that can pay a living wage to techs.


@wu_lee @Antanicus

True, but things have to start somewhere.

Solar panels were initially only viable for space missions, where the cost was unavoidable.

@alanz @wu_lee @Antanicus I agree and also remember small solar panels turning up on calculators etc as long ago as late 1970s.

Here in UK I think (*provided* the educators do not give up on their plans to reintroduce the generalist IT/electronics education my generation benefited from) the tech skills will return to younger folk in 10-20 years as according to a friend in NE England with a teenage son they are starting to teach them again (NE England was a tech hub in 20th century)


Also, co-ops subject to laws, therefore may be hamstrung in those not-so-free countries referred to by @Antanicus & @vfrmedia

The original thought about anti-counter-disintermediation seems to stand, no? @Antanicus just seems to be saying, a-c-d15n of servers alone insufficient in bad cases.

So do what you can in your circumstance. Belt and braces.

@wu_lee @alanz @Antanicus a curious consequence of global situation is a lot of "not so free" countries appear to have *less* /domestic/ monitoring/control of wireless spectrum and same license exempt bands as ROW, because much equipment used in "West" is *built* there; and their govt radio techs have other military/defence stuff with higher priority to keep them occupied. That may allow a mesh network (that does not cause interference to anything else) to develop *quicker* than in "West"!


@wu_lee @Antanicus

There is also the leapfrog effect, where the old gen tech does not exist at all, so the first tech is mesh or some such, which becomes the incumbent.

@alanz @wu_lee @Antanicus although even "developing" countries have extensive GSM (and now LTE) mobile networks. Its quite likely a combination of these and mesh will co-exist (as both require some kind of radio equipment and not every enduser wants to use only a mobile telephone) wth mesh filling in gaps or services that LTE providers do not want to supply as its not profitable or problematic with domestic govts.

@vfrmedia, agreed. I
believe goTenna is intended to be a device which plugs into your phone, adds mesh networking.

@Antanicus @alanz

@wu_lee @Antanicus @alanz

has potential but needs to be as available and similarly priced to VOIP telephone adapters (about €40 for a two line one) that today you can order and are delivered to your house next day. Global licensing may be a small hurdle but manufacturers of wifi equipment have managed it for years.

BTW I was inadvertently being a bit UK-centric about lack of RF/tech and electronics knowledge amongst current generations. it seems a bit better in mainland European countries.


That's not true anymore, makes it as easy as flashing the firmware on a compatible off-the-shelf device and plugging it in to join (or start) a mesh network. (Granted, some may need to get a minimally techie friend to help with that part, but then you're good to go!) in Catalonia have a mesh of 34.425 nodes running on it, with their own uplink.

@wu_lee @Antanicus @alanz

@mayel @wu_lee @Antanicus @alanz I've been monitoring that project and also Freifunk in the German speaking countries for some years now.

Again I'm being UK centric but over here a lot of the off the shelf devices are either older or hard to get in UK (there has been a panic caused by some fools turning off DFS and both FCC an ERO ordering "hackability" of WLAN equipment; and that many Brits would struggle to get any of it working. Those who don't, get hired by big telcos anyway. ++

@alanz @Antanicus @wu_lee @mayel

its not even just tech skills the Brits might be lacking, but the kind of "co-operative hacker subculture" I see elsewhere in Europe.

Many of those who are interested in tech tend to be apolitical or centre-right leaning and are perfectly happy with the status quo, especially if its providing them with /slightly/ more secure employment. If they design some thing away from day job they immediately want to become "startup entrepreneur" and profit from it.

@wu_lee @alanz @vfrmedia there is no need for gimmicky incentive schemes under cooperative ownership: all members share the financial burden and those who do the actual work get paid for it out of the cooperative common fund.

@Antanicus @wu_lee @alanz

indeed. I am cynical about anything mentioning "blockchain", same with "devops" or all other buzzwords common in tech.

existing co-op ownership model *works* and has worked since 1880s and even survives in ruthlessly competitive environments such as retail.

I often get cycling jackets and winter gear online from a workers co-op in Scotland/North of England (folk there more likely to ride in winter so they sell better items than competitors in the South!)

@vfrmedia Agreed, and Cynicism++

Nevertheless, here we are on social media :) Also, see comments about limitations of coops here

Holochain may be a gimmick, but it is not a blockchain, as the authors are cynics of that too. I hope it could be a tool *for creating* co-op propsperity.

@Antanicus @alanz

@wu_lee @alanz @vfrmedia Camille better get her shit together because "cooperativism is an economic project without any associated political project" is possibly the biggest pile of steaming shit I EVER came across on any social media...


Not the point I meant.


It says otherwise successful co-ops can be undermined by global/free market forces.

Therefore if you advocate co-ops (and I, & I believe Camille and the authors do), and the article is correct, you need a way to counter that "system problem" to really "survive ruthelessly competetive environments like retail".

@vfrmedia @alanz

@wu_lee @alanz @vfrmedia the "system problem" is real, but if they can't see the deep political implications of the movement I doubt they will ever solve it. This piece by Commons Transition, on the contrary, gets it right from the very title

@Antanicus @wu_lee @alanz

the East of England co-op (a bit closer to me!) has experienced similar problems and closed a large retail store and also parts of its food retail business (although much of the food that isn't grown here comes from Manchester but is just about surviving.

One thing I did notice in a local store is they are *re-emphasising* what the co-op actually is and encouraging individual membership and deeper involvement than using it as "just another grocery store.."

Soon after the financial crisis I got excited about the potential for the UK based Co-op Group to be an major agent for positive change. Sadly found it to be unlikely.

Since then they sold their massive farmland holdings (what I considered a major asset) and the Co-Op Bank crisis was somewhat bizarrely blamed on too much membership control (which was arguably pretty limited anyway), so that was reduced.
For most membership is much like being part .... @Antanicus @wu_lee @alanz

... of a loyalty scheme run by other supermarkets. They don't participate in any way other than purchasing goods and spending their dividend.
The Group does do some good stuff, like put some monies into funding advice services for new/embryonic coops. @Antanicus @wu_lee @alanz


UK co-op group is actually a load of silos under the same brand, the most joined up one is groceries but each actual co-op involved is a completely separate organisation in legal terms and the membership procedures *vary* across regions.

over here you have the "East of England co-op" but if you cross the border into Norfolk (only 30km) it becomes the "Anglia Regional Co-op" region and thats a completely different one.

@Antanicus @wu_lee @alanz

There are still a fair few regional coop, that share branding and logistics, but many have, over the years, combined into The Group

Was surprised to find one store is an independent grocers acting as a franchise and using branding/staff uniform/stock/logistics
@dazinism @Antanicus @wu_lee @alanz


East Anglia may be more unusual as the East of England co-op clearly *does* share branding and product range with the rest of CWS Manchester but also has its own unique branding, whereas "The co-op" (food retail store) in SE England is more likely to be owned directly by the main group in Manchester - in this town (Ipswich) you get both the national co-op for funeral services but the local one for food!

@Antanicus @wu_lee @alanz

Thinking about it the franchise thing probably comes from their expansionary phase early this decade when they bought up supermarket and convenience store chains. Guess at least one of these chains was doing franchising and The Group picked up the franchises then.

@Antanicus, The authors of the article are from the Next System Project and I believe they are on the same page more or less as the Commons Transition, Bauwens' P2PF, CIC etc.

So yes, they are looking precisely at the deep political implications of the co-op movement - or rather, a larger movement thereof based around "the commons".

@vfrmedia @alanz

@wu_lee @alanz @vfrmedia oh I was referring to what Camille said in her comment, sorry if I was unclear :)

I have been involved in coops for 20 years and have mentors who've been involved in coops since the 70s. I struggle to point to examples of coops being forces for broader radical sociopolitical *systemic* change. I'm all ears/eyes if you know of any. But effecting sociopolitical change is not some thing that is "baked" into the cooperative structure and that is why I call for an accompanying explicitly political project.
@Antanicus @vfrmedia @alanz

@kavbojka @wu_lee @Antanicus @alanz

the Rochdale Pioneers of England *were* seen as radical in their day, but most modern UK cooperative businesses lean towards the centre left of politics at most.

There is a Co-operative party but its sort of a subset of the existing Labour party (I though it had disappeared, but its actually still quite active!)

Both are probably a bit left of the USA Democratic party, but not as left as "left/green" parties in mainland Europe..

Well, if taking power away from the capitalist elite and effectively seizing the means of production isn't a "baked in" political trait of coops, then I don't know what a cooperative is... One might argue coops lack a political presence in the traditional sense (ie. A party) but that's further proof of the deeply political message of coops: to hell with the failed representative democracy, let's get things in our hands.
@wu_lee @vfrmedia @alanz

My point is that the lion's share of cooperatives in the world would not describe themselves this way. I believe the majority of the world's cooperatives are, indeed, capitalist and pro-capitalist. I don't have data at hand, but I welcome it and am enjoying this debate immensely.
@wu_lee @vfrmedia @alanz

@kavbojka @wu_lee @vfrmedia @alanz
> I believe the majority of the world's cooperatives are, indeed, capitalist and pro-capitalist
- Very true and saddening!

@Antanicus @kavbojka @wu_lee @alanz

possibly out of perceived necessity rather than ideology. when then Rochdale Pioneers were around in 1800s, there were genuinely radical ideas in English society doing the rounds but even then those were equally accepted by other organisations with traditional power, such as various Christian denominations, and the CWS also provided genuinely better quality retail items at a fair price (esp food) so were still ultimately also competing in a market economy.

@kavbojka @Antanicus @wu_lee @vfrmedia @alanz I think this is very likely true. But that's at least partly because they can't imagine organizations that compete more or less successfully in the market as anything but capitalist. To most people, market=capitalism.

@Steve @alanz @vfrmedia @wu_lee @kavbojka
>can't imagine organizations that compete more or less successfully in the market as anything but capitalist
-that's the whole point of capitalism: to create a framework so strict and oppressive in nature (but called "free market" because you know, marketing...) that literally nothing can thrive or even exist outside of it

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I agree just like unions or political parties, cooperatives need to be conscious and explicit in striving for a better world (even while necessarily trying to survive in the present one). Another part of what allows co-ops to be less radical over time is not sticking to cooperative principles; collective democratic control *is* radical and gives the potential for rising to radical occasions. But even new coops fail on this:
@kavbojka @alanz @vfrmedia @wu_lee @Antanicus

@kavbojka @wu_lee @vfrmedia @alanz also, a bright example of politically active cooperative was "PSS Społem", a consumer cooperative founded in 1868 in then-partitioned Poland as a "political and economical self defense mechanism against the stranglehold of the partitioning powers". Another, more contemporary example is the Catalan Integral Cooperative, which Commons Transition defines as "a political project (...) to generate a self-managed, post-capitalist society based on P2P principles"

@kavbojka @wu_lee @Antanicus @vfrmedia @alanz

can i read about your involvement anywhere? i am trying to learn a bit more about other coop endeavours and it would be neat to know people's personal accounts.

I had better, had I? Geez. I came on to Mastodon to escape that kind of talk.
@wu_lee @alanz @vfrmedia

@wu_lee @vfrmedia @Antanicus @alanz I've been following holochain, and would love it if we could figure out a holochain hosting arrangement for Mastodon/fediverse instances.

I'm hopeful it could allow for the sort of that was a flickering promise in the very early days:

@wu_lee @Antanicus in UK it is perfectly feasible at present for a local co-op to set up a telecoms company (same as most small VOIP providers are run or the (nationwide) but still needs dedicated tech and support staff, registration with Ofcom and compliance with perfectly reasonable regulations about access to 999/112, customer service levels etc. they would also still have to get core links into Internet and PSTN from a big "business grade" ISP. ++

@wu_lee @Antanicus unfortunately, good friends who run a housing co-op tried to use as their phone/ISP and had so many customer service issues they went back to British Telecom! (if either of you are British or have UK friends you might realise how bad that would be! 😉 ). I've also previously used VOIP services from "cool" type company (not quite co-op but very progressive minded) but the business closed b/c it was an older chap+ his wife running it and he had health probs.++

@Antanicus, I can't imagine co-ops laying cable nor displacing the national telcos, without government support. Radio comms, just maybe.

It's a problem of scale: local telcos first, then national ones. As for the cables, corporate entities face the same problem, as no sovereign country would ever allow a private company to lay cables in their sea without a prior deal, so that's not a coop-specific problem in my opinion

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