Cooperative Social Network
From Michael's Internet Database
Cooperatives are a viable economic alternative to less democratic forms of enterprise. While the Internet abounds in examples of cooperative endeavors, from wikis to open source software, economic cooperatives are rarely found in the field of high-tech. The cooperative form may seem poorly adapted to endeavors at the forefront of technological innovation - but how often has it actually been tried?
Structure of the coop
The idea would be to create a Cooperative Social Network, similar to social networks such as Facebook or Friendfeed, but structured as a coop. The coop form could be developed on two levels:
- A worker cooperative for the team that develops and runs the website
- A consumer's cooperative for the users
The management of the worker coop would report to the elected board of the consumer's cooperative. Voting within the consumer's coop would probably be limited to the paying premium members. Voting within the worker coop would be according to the standard principle of "one worker one vote." The voting within the worker coop could be in the form of a yearly election to select, maintain or replace the top management.
This cooperative social network could use the same business model as existing social networks: free accounts for the majority of users, paying accounts for premium users, and operating revenues from advertising and data mining.
As a cooperative, such a company would be less pressured by commercial constraints than those out to make it rich. It could serve more as a place for participative technical experimentation and for empowerment of its members. Also it could remain relatively small, the quality of its early-adopter membership making up for the improbability of mainstream adoption.
In addition to providing social networking, the coop could offer to its members various additional services, such as:
- Online identity
- URL shortening
- Blog hosting
- Cloud services
Providers of the above-listed services, particularly when they are free, profit from mining the data that they thus obtain about the users' habits and preferences. When such activities are organized as a coop, the members themselves as a group can control and/or benefit from such data mining.