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28 July 2016

Act otherwise

Interview of Michel Bauwens, founder of the P2P Foundation

P2P Fondation

Founder of the P2P Foundation, Michel Bauwens is project leader for the idea of creating a joint peer-to-peer approach on cooperative platforms.

What is an « extractive » platform?

Extractive firms exploit the resources of their members. They capture their cooperation without there being any fair return for this cooperation. The knowledge generated through information sharing on these platforms is an unlimited resource. New web companies thrive in this abundance, capturing its value. Facebook is a perfect illustration of how to make contents not rare, while making a living from what its users are sharing. Public authorities should apply higher taxation to these extractive platforms, because they are privatizing our data. The data they are using is generated by the interactions between users, and therefore, in principle, this data constitutes a common good.


Are there any alternatives to this model?

The use of common goods should be conditioned to stricter reciprocity. It is key for cooperativism to contribute its own economic model. There are hundreds of experiences of platform cooperativism where the concept of fair price is negotiated between all stakeholders. In the music industry, Resonate intends to be a socially responsible and economically sustainable alternative to platforms such as Spotify or Deezer. Drivers decide to free themselves of Uber to create local platforms, the rules of which they control themselves. Today, many alternative cooperative platforms are local. This dimension is essential but not sufficient. We must think in larger dimensions, with a model based on open and distributed governance. It cannot be hierarchical and centralized.


Don’t the governance models of social and solidarity economy entities predispose them to adopt platform cooperativism?

SSE entities do indeed share significant governance rules elements with cooperative platforms; however, beyond the legal aspect of rules, I have more confidence in social charters that sanction members who don’t respect rules. Cooperative legal status can hide practices that are less cooperative, whereas these charters are clearly focused on accepting certain priority values and practices.

For more informations : https://wiki.p2pfoundation.net/Michel_Bauwens

P2P Foundation


The challenge: focus on SSE cooperative platforms

The NGO Covoiturage-libre.fr (a French carpooling dot com) already boasts 650 000 trips. Its business model is based on donations, just like the collaborative encyclopedia Wikipedia. In the food industry, the Open Food Network platform that organizes short circuits is poised to set up in France, after Australia, South Africa and Great-Britain.