Frequent Boing Boing contributor Clive Thompson (previously) has a great short piece in this month's Wired about platform cooperativism: replacing parasitical Silicon Valley companies that sit between workers and their customers with worker-owned co-ops that take the smallest commission possible in order to maintain the apps that customers and workers use to find each other.
Thompson tells the story of Up & Go, a worker-owned co-op for house cleaners where the average worker earns $22.25/hour. The Up & Go app does all the things that other gig economy apps do: makes it easy for workers and customers to find each other, contract for services and pay for them — but because "there's no venture capitalist demanding hockey-stick growth or profits," the workers get to keep all the money.
Platform cooperativism has been popularized by the New School's Trebor Scholz, who leads a team writing free/open source code that groups of workers can set up and run in the field.
The lesson here? If we want better gig labor, the hard part isn't the code. It's the social stuff—getting workers together to form a co-op and setting up rules for selling their labor and resolving disagreements. An app can help things along, but it's humans who really change the world.
When Workers Control the Code [Clive Thompson/Wired]