Invitations abound to meet the moment of patriarchy and to let it go for a more inclusive way of being people and planet. This weekend I am working with a bunch of talented individuals who have come from far and wide to imagine what a digital platform co-op might look like that disrupts patriarchy by being a platform intentionally designing in feminist and co-op principles.
What follows is the brief the teams have been given. Maybe it will spark some ideas for you?
In creating the brief I drew on what I was looking for when at the end of last year I started to consider monetizing this weekly blog. I went looking for a subscription platform that was female founded or at least had a majority of female users or shareholders. I was surprised to find nothing that matched that criteria. I then started to think about all the other criteria that would satisfy me – a community owned platform, one designed and always being iterated by the owners, one where people were fairly rewarded, one where we would find people like me and others not like me, one where there was the potential for the future to be evenly distributed.
Here is the brief:
It is 2021. We are living in the time of a global pandemic, a climate emergency, a time when the veil has dropped on misogyny, where decolonisation has begun and racial justice is being called for. Equity. Inclusion. Love. Wisdom. Collaboration. Community. Trust.
We need care before code. We also know the future of work is going to be local including working from home to a global market. This hackathon is set in this context.
Automation, remote working and the knowledge economy are here and expanding. This is disproportionately impacting on women, First nations, people of colour, LGBTIQ+ and people with disabilities. The platforms being used to buy and sell are predominantly not owned and operated by these groups of people. This is increasing the economic and social divide. If we want a more just and equitable world we are going to need to build accessible, socially and economically just platforms. We need democratic and ethical templates to build disruptive technologies actually focused on real disruption and social change. It is not enough to tweak the platforms we have.
Can you imagine instead of outsourcing our futures to automated systems that are limited to market solutions, we envision a new social ecologically oriented online community that reinforces its productive energies and creativity, toward restorative and resilient ends?
We can imagine it, so can we build it?
We come to this problem with a beginners mind, and a willingness to disrupt our own thinking, to invite beginners luck, to take chances and use our imagination as a tool to unlock and unleash ideas. We come to the task clear about what is negotiable and non-negotiable. There are beautiful constraints in this hackathon, just as there are in all our lives.
These are the constraints that will make our hack beautiful. What we make will be transformational and:
- disrupt patriarchy
- be a co-op
- reflect feminist principles
- competitive pricing with other platforms like Patreon, SubStack
- make money for its members
- have an attitude of abundance
As William Gibson (scifi writer) put it: “The future is already here – it’s just not evenly distributed.” For instance in the bitcoin community is 91% men and 96% of Ethereum users are male. Blockchain definitely promises the potential for more equity in distribution, but this is yet to be realised. How might collaborative, inclusive processes create a prosperous future for people, planet and future generations?
Existing platforms for creatives take a % in fees and the fintech platforms take another fee, all this before the producer of the content or service can have their share. It is an extractive model.
Patriarchy is competitive, hierarchical, where masculinity is normative and there is a bias towards male dominance and control. These features are reflected in the business model, design, algorithms, communications and marketing in platforms. Scale is always understood as hypergrowth upwards, rather than deeper or wider. Patriarchy is killing men too – they are dying earlier than women, have worse mental health and higher suicide rates – imagine a world with happier and healthier men.
The problem as we see it is we need to #femthefuture. This means creating generative, distributive, inclusive and equitable ways to participate in the online economy. We thought starting with a platform to enable this kind of exchange to take place was as good as any place to start.