2016 wrap

Agaric works with Cooperative movements and the free software movement (Free software = free society as opposed to non-free software = non-free society) to connect how the current economy lends itself to the formation of cooperative companies. 2016 was a year of heavy travel to many events, holding workshops, meetups and presenting at some of America's most prestigious universities.

I offer this blog not to show how much I travel, but to show how many interesting conferences there are and how easily you can take part in any of them.

  • In May of 2016, I attended LeftForum in NYC as a guest on two panels with MayFirst (the largest web hosting platform owned by the members  - they host sites that are often under attack): The panels I took part in were : 1. Privacy, Security and Surveillance and 2. Attacking the Digital Plantation: Racism on the Internet and the Struggle Against It
  • In June, 2016,  Allied Media Conference - in Detroit where I was on panels about privacy and surveillance organized by our friends at MayFirst.
  • In July 2016, I virtually attended CommonBound http://commonbound.org/ in Buffalo, NY.
  • Also in July 2016 - Agaric went to Austin, Texas for the United States Federation of Worker Cooperatives conference. It was really a great place to be. Over 400 members of cooperatives gathered to share ideas and information about projects they are working on. People from all over America joined in educating each other and offering support to projects as they connected by meeting at presentations and workshops led by cooperatives and individuals collaborating on initiatives and campaigns together.
  • August 2016 - I participated on two panels at the World Social Forum: 1. Privacy, Surveillance and Secure Internet Access: Planning the Fight and 2. Another Economy is Possible! Building the Solidarity Economy in the U.S.  
  • In October of 2016 I attended the International Summit if Cooperatives in Quebec, CA. I detailed the event in my previous blog as it was quite an exhilarating experience to be amongst 3000 cooperative members from 117 countries.
  • In October of 2016, I  presented at BADcamp (Bay Area Drupal Camp) in San Francisco on Platform Cooperativism and a platform tool like Drupal.
  • In November I spoke at the Platform Cooperativism, in NYC at the New School. I am involved as an Emissary and I speak at other conferences to raise awareness of the Platform Cooperativism movement. My presentation addressed the design of a cooperative. I spoke to the nuts and bolts of my cooperative, Agaric, how we are structured, how we earn money and how we get paid etc. My presentation is on Livestream @ 50:00), and I also appear in an interview at the conference.
  • In November 2016 - I presented at The 5th Annual Conference on Critical Theories in the 21st Century at West Chester University in Pennsylvania. This conference poses multiple possibilities for critical pedagogical theories, deliberations, and actions and aims to enliven the theoretical and practical work of critical pedagogy inside and outside the spaces of formal education. I was honored to speak with such luminaries as Michael Apple and Ira Shor.


Much of what I speak about in presentations and on panels is chronicled in my chapter of the book, Ours to Hack and to Own: the rise of platform cooperativism, a new vision for the future of work and a fairer internet - edited by Trebor Scholz and Nathan Schneider (released in November 2016). The new handbook with chapters from many of the speakers at the Platform Cooperativism event has been published by OR Books and is a concerted effort to form a movement -- building platforms and tools owned by the people. I am excited to have my own chapter in this newly published book on my experience in a worker-owned web development cooperative and how it relates to the larger picture of our future work. Trebor Scholz formed the Platform Cooperativism Consortium, a movement that has coalesced over 4 years of events led by himself and Nathan Schneider and sponsored by the New School in NYC. The last three events being, Digital Labor in 2014 and Platform Cooperativism in 2015 and Building the Cooperative Internet in 2016. Platform co-op events at The New School are scheduled for 2016, 2017, and 2018, and information is available at Platformcoop.net.

To accompany the book, several websites have sprung up in solidarity to showcase and organize the work being done. Nathan Schneider is curating a list of platform cooperative projects in progress now. The Internet of Ownership is being built to inform developers and the public about the status of projects and to encourage people to get involved and connect with things they care about building or having a voice in what is being built. This brings me to mention our work doing outreach on behalf of the Free Software Foundation. I speak about free software as the Achilles heel of all movements. Richard Stallman, President of the Free Software Foundation and the developer of GNU/Linux has been speaking about the free software movement for years - not many listened until now. He gave a rousing talk at the Chaos Computer Club Conference in Hamburg about Free Society = Free Software - you can choose to see or listen to audio. Richard introduces people to the dangers of proprietary software by offering this definition. He also offers links to information regarding DRM (Digital Rights Management - control over copying etc.) backdoor/remote access incidents.

Agaric is involved in the start of Drutopia, an initiative within the Drupal.org project that prioritizes putting the best online tools into the hands of grass-roots groups. By embracing the liberatory possibilities of free software and supporting people-centered economic models, Drutopia aims to revolutionize the way we work and cooperate. 

Agaric also hosts online chats and webinars on privacy and security to raise awareness and help people install encryption tools - We host meetups in the Boston/Cambridge area. In the Spring of 2016, I took part in the first meeting in a series of discussions in NYC at the NY School of Law with Joe Cannataci, the Special Rapporteur for Privacy (SRP) together with Human Rights Watch, Global Freedom of Expression Columbia University, the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University Law Center, The Department of Information Policy & Governance at the University of Malta and Security, Technology & e-Privacy Research Group at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands. This workshop is the first public event co-organized by the SRP aimed at achieving a better understanding of privacy.

In The Works:

As part of my role with the Solidarity Economy Network, I would like to work with this mapping project by Craig Borowiak - http://solidarityeconomy.us

I am also on a team of founders of a new Boston Public High School. The Boston Collaboratory School is developing a curriculum that is connected with mindfulness/cooperation/technology/community/self-identity - personal learning, and all classes will have a "humanity/cooperation/community" component as a part of their core, fostering the critical thinking skills needed to survive and succeed.

In November of 2016, I was elected  to the Leadership Committee of MayFirst.org, where I will be building initiatives to raise awareness on privacy security and surveillance, which includes getting people encrypted and staying safe online and in the real world.

I will be heading to the UK in February 2017 to speak at Goldsmiths University of London Open Coop 2017 . It is a two day conference and I will be on a panel titled "Empowering digital collaboration: Introducing the open app ecosystem" and another panel titled: "Working session: Designing interoperable apps for the open app ecosystem" We intend to explore the best ways to further the work, and encourage greater collaboration within, The Open App Ecosystem. A most fun part of this trip is that I have invited the CEO of the large corporate well funded venture I worked for in the year 2000 - she will there to experience Platform Cooperatives at this dynamic conference and I am excited to present these ideas to someone from the corporate world!

The only way to get action is to make it happen, and half the battle is just showing up. I met so many wonderful people this year and am excited about the progress that is made as we read! Do you want to include a call to action? For example: "I urge you to join me in exploring some of these new initiatives." To get involved all you really need is CURIOSITY.