Find My Way Platform Cooperative

Long Term Vision

Imagine all the knowledge and experience that exists right now within the millions and billions of people on this planet. Every single person knows things that many other people don’t know. No matter who they are or where they live, each individual has had unique life experiences that others would find interesting, enlightening and helpful. The abundance of knowledge and wisdom on this planet comes close to being infinite. What if individuals could find the knowledge they need instantly in order to move forward in their goals?

Since the internet began, people have formed communication groups to freely share information. Some examples are Facebook groups, Yahoo groups, listservs, discussion boards and Google groups.

While these groups have many positive aspects, they also have limitations. Generally, they don’t save the information in a way that makes it easy to search and access later. The same questions may get asked over and over again, and the answers received depend on who has the time and energy to answer questions later.

These information sharing groups also tend to have an overwhelming amount of information that is not relevant to each individual user. Messages or posts come in that are on topic, but every person has their own unique situation, needs and goals. Many messages and posts are not useful to many people on the list, and a lot of time and energy is wasted when users have to sort through what is useful to them and what isn’t.

We have a vision for a new kind of platform. It self-organizes existing and new information so that it is always accessible, shareable and never wasted. Machine learning is employed to organize, find and deliver information more quickly and more meaningfully over time. The result is matched to each user’s personal needs and goals.

This platform will be owned, governed and developed cooperatively by its members.

It will be established and governed according to the following principles.

  1. The platform exists to serve the people and communities who use it.
  2. Each person and organization that uses the platform owns their personal data and has complete control over who it is shared with. Knowledge shared publicly can be accessed without making an account.
  3. Every user has one vote in how the platform is operated.
  4. Use of the platform is free. Access to information shared freely by other users will always be free. If users want to charge a fee to make information that belongs to them available on the platform, they are able to do so.
  5. The platform software developed is free and open source. Some software components used may be privately owned.

Our vision for the platform is that it enables users to collectively own the content they share, openly develop and collaboratively extend the open source platform software to meet their needs, and financially benefit from their contributions and the related community services it attracts.

Organizing Principles

Our goal for the Find My Way Platform Cooperative is that it be in alignment with the solidarity economy. According to the U.S. Solidarity Economy Network[1], the solidarity economy is an alternative framework for economic development grounded in practice, and aligned to the following principles:

  • Solidarity and cooperation,
  • Equity in all dimensions (race, ethnicity, gender, class, etc.),
  • Social and economic democracy,
  • Sustainability and resiliency,
  • Pluralism (not a one-size-fits-all approach),
  • Puts people and planet first.

The solidarity economy is about systemic transformation. We understand the economy as being embedded in the global natural and social eco-system, shaped by the rules and institutions of governance and including all sectors of the economy. As such, the solidarity economy already exists in practice.

Business Model

Platform cooperativism, as defined by Trebor Scholz, is about taking the technological heart of online platforms and putting it to work with a cooperative model. It puts workers, owners, communities, and cities in a kind of solidarity that leads to increased power and control over their own lives, both financially and politically[2].

Scholz categorizes our kind of service offering as “Produser-owned”, purposely integrating producers of shared content and users who consume content. This is in comparison with platforms like Facebook and Google that offer users “free” services while monetizing their content and data.

When leveraging our platform to meet their own knowledge sharing needs, users in the cooperative own their data and make the conscious choice about how and with whom they wish to share their content. They also fairly share in the benefits and profits this exchange brings to the entire cooperative. In a similar manner, cooperatives using the platform may decide to share information with each other, and thereby derive financial, social and political benefits.

We envision Find My Way generating revenue in two main ways:

  1. As a platform cooperative. Find My Way generates revenue as financial transactions are facilitated through the platform.
  2. Find My Way builds knowledge sharing platforms for separate enterprises. The enterprises pay Find My Way to build, operate and extend these platforms.

Our platform will include specific components which will address:

  1. Ownership,
  2. Decent Pay,
  3. Transparency in assessing the value and truthfulness of shared content,
  4. Acknowledgment and appreciation,
  5. Communication between produsers and platform operators,
  6. Protective legal framework,
  7. Produser-owned reputation systems,
  8. Explicit rejection of constant surveillance or biased review mechanisms,
  9. Enforcement of clear boundaries on the scope of digital content contributions.

[1] https://ussen.org

[2] Platform Cooperativism – Challenging the Corporate Sharing Economy, Trebor Scholz, 2016