In a comment to an earlier article on the “Corporate Commons”, our reader Donald made an interesting comment and suggestion:
“In the context of the general conversation about corporate support of free software programming, I’ve often wondered why we don’t just have something structured more or less as a cooperative to hire and pay people for this work. The cooperative form is limited in many ways, but it is certainly less limited that normal corporate mechanisms if we’re talking about social production and distribution. Essentially this would only entail chartering a firm in which cooperative members each contribute a small amount of equity finance (either one time or yearly) that massed together provides sufficient capital for programmers. The overall business plan would need some tweaking, but if we want to move beyond resignation we should explore existing organizational and financial models for crowd-funding open source development, either through one firm or through a meshwork of them.”
Here’s my response, together with some links on free coops collated for our wiki.
I totally agree with your suggestion, though it does not seem to have a lot of traction. However, I have tracked some initiatives in various parts of the world, and if you know of others, thanks for letting me know.
See for the links at http://p2pfoundation.net/Free_Software_Cooperatives
Here’s the material you can find there, and we would really appreciate updates:
1. OSSICS, Kerala, India
2. OS Alliance, Austria, “Georg Pleger” ; Roland Alton-Scheidl ; Eric Poscher
3. WikiOcean, Pune, India, uses Weko/Reppo based governance system.
4. SOLIS – Brazil, Júnior Mulinari
5. Gcoop – Argentina;
6. Pong – Switzerland
7. Ikusnet – Spain
1. Joice Käfer
1. KunLabori Collaborative, Sweden (no longer active, according to Josef Davies-Coates, May 2008)
1. Turo Technology LLP, UK
2. The Open Co-op, UK
3. HostSharing eG – a german coop specialising on ISP Services
1. Spanish-language discussion list, maintained by Gcoop in Argentina: Cooperativismo y el Software Libre ; 2. Cooperativas de Software Livre