Latest News: Posts Tagged ‘ourstohack’

OURS TO HACK AND TO OWN is named one of Wired’s top ten tech books of 2017

Friday, December 22nd, 2017

“In the utopia that Scholz, Schneider, and dozens of contributors illustrate, the technologies we’ve come to take for granted—from Uber to Amazon and Airbnb—would be refashioned as cooperatively-owned and collectively governed entities. Mark Zuckerberg, they suggest, might put his Facebook shares in a user-controlled trust, so that those billions of people could have a say in what happens with the data that the platform collects. That’s just one of the bold proposals put forth by dozens of contributors, who envision a more just online future. At times, Ours to Hack and to Own may read like a pipe dream—but it’s also a much needed reminder that a better internet is possible.”

Read the full list at Wired.

Co-op News reports on NATHAN SCHNEIDER‘s keynote speech at the Co-operative Impact conference

Monday, October 16th, 2017

Read here.

OURS TO HACK AND OWN “convenes dozens of thinkers and doers to reflect on how the cooperative form—which enables workers to govern their workplaces—could humanize digitally organized labor,” says the Boston Review

Tuesday, July 25th, 2017

Read here.

“The grassroots effort to rescue Twitter from the grips of Wall Street (and internet trolls).” NATHAN SCHNEIDER is cited in ThinkProgress

Monday, July 17th, 2017

Read here.

“Civil society needs to own the technology of the future.” An extract from OURS TO HACK AND TO OWN in Civil Society Futures

Tuesday, May 9th, 2017

New gizmos come and go so quickly that we hardly notice when the meanings of our words change, and when what we expect of ourselves changes with them. Ordinary people have already made the Internet their own with their hacks, their memes, their protests, and their dreams. The cost of forfeiting control over these things is too high, and too mysterious. We need to expect better, to demand more. It’s time that we own and govern what is ours already…”

Read the full extract here.

“We need our platforms to be real democracies.” An extract from OURS TO HACK AND TO OWN in Open Democracy

Thursday, April 6th, 2017

“For most of the last decade, I’ve been a reporter, covering stories on how technology is reshaping public life, from debates about God to protests in the streets. One thing I’ve noticed is that Internet culture has an odd way of using a really important word: democracy. When a new app is said to be democratizing something – whether robotic personal assistants or sepia-toned selfies – it means allowing more people to access that something. Just access, along with a big, fat terms of service. Gone are those old associations of town meetings and voting booths; gone are co-ownership, co-governance, and accountability…”

Read the full extract here.

Ours to Hack and Own provides the most comprehensive summary of the burgeoning platform co-op movement to date.” OURS TO HACK AND TO OWN reviewed in Co-operative News.

Wednesday, March 29th, 2017

Ours to Hack and Own is an extremely timely publication covering every aspect of the legal, social, technical and economic aspects of the platform co-op movement. Although its focus is on platform cooperativism it is key reading for anyone with an interest in creating a more collaborative, equitable and sustainable world.

Read the full review here.

“We cannot be content with isolated cooperative alternatives designed to counter old forms of capitalism.” OURS TO HACK AND TO OWN on Open Democracy

Wednesday, March 15th, 2017

“The concept of “platform cooperative” has been proposed as an alternative to such “sharing economy” firms. A platform cooperative is an online platform (e.g. website, mobile app) that is organized as a cooperative and owned by its employees, customers, users, or other key stakeholders. For example, see a directory of several platform co-ops around the world.

We fully support the broader movement of platform cooperativism. However, we cannot be content with isolated cooperative alternatives designed to counter old forms of capitalism. A global counter-economy needs to be built. And this could happen through the creation of a global digital commons of knowledge.”

Read the full review here.

“Our data is increasingly the province of large corporations.” OURS TO HACK AND TO OWN in INNOVATION HUB

Friday, February 10th, 2017

The internet is pretty cool. After all, where else could you order super-fancy organic tea at 3 in the morning? Or look up who played the main conquistador in Aguirre, The Wrath of God? But, as cool and world-changing as the internet is, Nathan Schneider thinks there are some major flaws in it. Namely, that we don’t have a stake in most of the services we use. Schneider is the editor of Ours to Hack and Own: The Rise of Platform Cooperativism, a New Vision for the Future of Work and a Fairer Internet, a New Vision for the Future of Work and a Fairer Internet, and he talks with us about making the online world more equitable.

Three Takeaways:

According to Schneider, we don’t own nearly enough of the internet. Our data is increasingly the province of large corporations, while “sharing economy” apps that we use may not have our best interests at heart.
Schneider wants to rethink the internet by making it more co-operative, taking a page from co-operative farms, the Associated Press, electric co-ops, and lots more. He essentially wants the internet’s platforms to work with us in mind.
What would this new internet look like? Well, not all that different from the internet of today, just less focused on cutthroat capitalism. Schneider points out that in Colorado, the largest taxi service in the state (by number of taxis), edging out Uber, isa taxi co-operative. And there are many more examples.

Get the full story here.


Friday, February 3rd, 2017

Where open source fits in

At or near the core of any platform cooperative lies open source; not necessarily open source technologies, but the principles and the ethos that underlie open source—openness, transparency, cooperation, collaboration, and sharing.

In his introduction to the book, Trebor Scholz points out that:

In opposition to the black-box systems of the Snowden-era Internet, these platforms need to distinguish themselves by making their data flows transparent. They need to show where the data about customers and workers are stored, to whom they are sold, and for what purpose.

It’s that transparency, so essential to open source, which helps make platform cooperatives so appealing and a refreshing change from much of what exists now.

Open source software can definitely play a part in the vision of platform cooperatives that “Ours to Hack and to Own” shares. Open source software can provide a fast, inexpensive way for groups to build the technical infrastructure that can power their cooperatives.

Mickey Metts illustrates this in the essay, “Meet Your Friendly Neighborhood Tech Co-Op.” Metts works for a firm called Agaric, which uses Drupal to build for groups and small business what they otherwise couldn’t do for themselves. On top of that, Metts encourages anyone wanting to build and run their own business or co-op to embrace free and open source software. Why? It’s high quality, it’s inexpensive, you can customize it, and you can connect with large communities of helpful, passionate people.

Not always about open source, but open source is always there

Not all of the essays in this book focus or touch on open source; however, the key elements of the open source way—cooperation, community, open governance, and digital freedom—are always on or just below the surface.

In fact, as many of the essays in “Ours to Hack and to Own” argue, platform cooperatives can be important building blocks of a more open, commons-based economy and society. That can be, in Douglas Rushkoff’s words, organizations like Creative Commons compensating “for the privatization of shared intellectual resources.” It can also be what Francesca Bria, Barcelona’s CTO, describes as cities running their own “distributed common data infrastructures with systems that ensure the security and privacy and sovereignty of citizens’ data.”

Get the full story here.

“If ‘we the people’ own and democratically control the platforms we use we all get a better deal.” OURS TO HACK AND TO OWN in RESILIENCE

Friday, February 3rd, 2017

“At its’ simplest, the platform co-op concept is pretty straightforward; if ‘we the people’ own and democratically control the platforms we use we all get a better deal; without external investors syphoning off funds every quarter any value created can be recycled within the platform; workers get paid more (and, most importantly, a real liveable wage), customers get better value and together we set the rules. The profit motive, of conventional ‘platform monopolies’ like Uber, Airbnb and Deliveroo is replaced in favour of ‘benefitting the community the platform serves’.”

Get the full story here.


Monday, January 30th, 2017

“This timely book explores how industrial co-operatives can be made relevant in our digital age. Co-operatives founded by nineteenth-century factory workers revolutionised working practices. This book proposes that digital workers must establish similar mutuals to bring about democratic governance and shared ownership of the internet’s levers of power – its platforms and protocols.

(The term ‘platform’ refers to the places where we hang out or work after we switch on our phones or computers. Likewise, the word ‘hack’ in the title refers not to intercepting other people’s email, but to the DIY culture of open source, where software – and perhaps the way we work – can be customised. )

Ours to Hack and to Own brings together contributions from 40 authors, who ask whether technology which disrupts industries could be harnessed to disrupt the operating system of our economy. Addressing social rather than technical challenges, it will appeal to readers regardless of their level of computer expertise.”

Get the full story here.

“Any new opportunity for public investment is an opportunity for building shared, sustainable, public wealth.” NATHAN SCHNEIDER in Yes Magazine

Wednesday, January 25th, 2017

Not many people I’ve known who lived through the Great Depression recall it fondly. I suspect most of them would be perplexed to hear how Donald Trump’s chief strategist, Steve Bannon, described the new administration’s trillion-dollar infrastructure plan: “It will be as exciting as the 1930s.”

Americans have accomplished some remarkable things in times of widespread economic disaster.
Exciting or not, it’s true that Americans have accomplished some remarkable things, and created some inventive new options, in times of widespread economic disaster. Social Security, the Empire State Building, and the gorgeous stretch of California’s Highway 1 through Big Sur all date to that period. But one less-celebrated accomplishment might be particularly instructive if the Trump administration is serious about bringing jobs and pride back to left-behind parts of the country.

I’m referring to the rise of rural electrification—how we got the lights on in communities off the beaten path, from the Rocky Mountains to the Florida Everglades. At the start of the Great Depression, much of the U.S. countryside had no electricity, even after most cities and towns had been electrified for decades. Power companies refused to make the investment, which would furnish lower profits than urban projects; some even claimed, astonishingly, that rural communities were better off in the dark. I don’t think that my grandfather, who grew up on northern Colorado beet farms without electricity, would have agreed.

Get the full story here.

“What if Uber drivers set up their own platform, or if a city’s residents controlled their own version of Airbnb?” OURS TO HACK AND TO OWN in The American Conservative

Tuesday, January 17th, 2017

What if Uber drivers set up their own platform, or if a city’s residents controlled their own version of Airbnb? How about if enough Twitter users got together to buy the company in order to share its ownership?

The latter idea comes from Nathan Schneider, co-editor of one of the best guides to this emerging area Ours to Hack and To Own. It’s a fascinating collection of not-all-that-techy articles on cooperative initiatives to resist the cooptation of the Internet.

Platform cooperativism is simply communal ownership (with roughly 170 years of cooperative movement history) brought together with today’s notions of democratic governance. The term platform, as the editors explain, “refers to places where we hang out, work, tinker and generate value after we switch on our phones or computers.”

Principles of cooperativism are well developed and plenty of impressive examples exist worldwide, from the Mondragon Corporation in Spain (actually a network of coop enterprises employing over 74,000 people) to the dozens of consumer, agricultural and healthcare coops in Italy’s economically resilient Emiglia-Romagna region. In this country, some 30,000 coops contribute an estimated $154 billion to our national income.

Get the full story here.

“Platform cooperativism: an alternative to uberisation”: OURS TO HACK AND TO OWN in Makery

Wednesday, December 7th, 2016

How does one relocate the governance of the digital economy? Trebor Scholz, Nathan Schneider and a crowd of engaged authors are listing alternatives in a publication on “platform cooperativism”. Makery selected the good papers for you.

Trebor Scholz and Nathan Schneider met at the Ouisharefest in Paris in 2014. They noticed they shared views on platform cooperativism as an alternative to uberization, or more precisely “platform capitalism” as the political specialist Nick Srnicek defined it. The project of a book emerged from this meeting, as a means to disseminate the scattered ideas of an international movement. Its website Platformcoop has since been relaying its initiatives. The book will be released this month to also support a reflection group, the PCC (Platform Cooperativism Consortium), officially launched on November 11 in the New School of New York (where Trebor Scholz teaches).

Read the full article here.

“Build democracy and it spreads like a virus”: Nathan Schneider in Open Democracy

Wednesday, November 30th, 2016

OSB: You seem to be a fan of democracy, as am I, however, I’m not sure I have ever experienced it. What do you think real democracy is?

Nathan Schneider
Nathan Schneider.
Photo: Elizabeth Leitzell,
CC BY-SA 4.0 license
NS: I guess I feel I have experienced democracy. Never perfect, never complete (as Derrida put it, always “democracy to come”), but real and beautiful.

I experienced it as a teenage student, when the teachers empowered us to help govern our school, and then in college living in a housing cooperative.
And I’ve seen it in social movements, in organizations I’ve been part of, and even fleetingly in the voting booth.

I agree that one cannot call the reigning political systems any kind of complete democracy, but they do have some democratic features, and they invite us to the challenge of thickening that democracy radically.

Especially in a moment like the present one in the US, when the government is not going to be an ally, it is so, so important to build democracy wherever we can. This is something social movements have been doing for a while now. Movements like Occupy and Black Lives Matter have found themselves in societies they view as undemocratic, and they responded by practicing direct democracy in the streets, and calling for cooperatives in the economy. I think this is a valuable lesson. When democracy fails at one level of society, start building it in other levels, in other spheres. It spreads like a virus.

Read the full article here.

“Twitter has proven to be an invaluable service to its users, and should be protected by those users”: Nathan Schneider on The Takeaway

Thursday, November 10th, 2016

Listen here.

“This impressive collection of thoughts, experiences, resources and new collaborators is likely to have a significant impact on the outcome”: OURS TO HACK AND TO OWN on Enspiral Tales

Thursday, October 27th, 2016

Read the full feature here.

“The Rise of a Cooperatively Owned Internet”: NATHAN SCHNEIDER on The Nation

Friday, October 14th, 2016

Read the full article on The Nation here.

“What if users were to band together and buy Twitter for themselves?”: NATHAN SCHNEIDER proposes cooperativism to save Twitter

Friday, September 30th, 2016

“What if users were to band together and buy Twitter for themselves?”: NATHAN SCHNEIDER, coeditor of Ours to Hack and to Own proposes cooperativism to save Twitter.


“If you ask Wall Street, Twitter is in trouble. The user-base is growing, but not quickly enough. Ad revenue is growing too, but not as quickly as it once did. The only answer to this leveling-out, it seems, is the platform’s acquisition by a bigger corporate bird, which can regurgitate an influx of capital and absorb our tweets into its own data-craving metabolism. Disney, Salesforce, Microsoft, and Google’s parent Alphabet are all circling above Twitter’s wobbly stock price, salivating.


“The trouble is, Wall Street’s economy has become Twitter’s economy, even if Wall Street’s view of the platform’s usefulness isn’t necessarily our view. But what if we changed Twitter’s economy? What if users were to band together and buy Twitter for themselves?”


Read the full article here.

“A New Vision for the Internet”: A discussion featuring OURS TO HACK AND TO OWN co-editor, Nathan Schneider, on Rising Up with Sonali

Thursday, September 15th, 2016

“A New Vision for the Internet”: A discussion featuring co-editor of OURS TO HACK AND TO OWN, Nathan Schneider, on Rising Up with Sonali.


“We live in a world where increasingly we are all giving up personal information and autonomy to fewer and fewer online companies. Google and Facebook facilitate so much global communication now that they effectively control and shape it. Within such a landscape, the utopian vision of the Internet as a great equalizer has not panned out, in spite of pronouncements of benevolent sounding phrases like “the sharing economy” of the Internet.

How can ordinary people take control of the system on which so many of us rely that digital access is now considered a right? How can we take back that which was invented as a result of public investment in the first place?”


The full feature can be found on Rising Up with Sonali here.

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