Using a Cooperative Digital Platform

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My excitement grows for cooperative platforms on the web. They can bring actual democracy and equality to the web by establishing diverse stakeholders as owners. And the movement is growing (See my earlier blog post: Platforms for a New Economy.) But we’re all wondering how they will be built, and be influential. We can start by looking at Loomio as a successful example. It’s a worker-owned web application that brings to us a networking and decision-making platform.

I used Loomio for a recent political campaign. Our team was a group of 18. The best feature for us was preserving conversation threads. We were able to refer to past conversations saved in one central location. The collection of threads that accumulated was ideal for including newcomers in a particular discussion. Some exclusive conversations did need to take place by email instead of Loomio, but in Loomio anyone could start a new thread with a title and description. And the responses to a thread can be sent to your email address.

The decision-making aspect of the platform, consisting of proposals and voting, was useful. The few times we used this feature, the interface was clear and effective. You can start a proposal at any time, and a graphic pie chart tracks the popularity of the proposal. I see a lot of potential for this feature, and think it could be a great municipal voting tool.

Beyond our use of Loomio, the New Zealand based co-op is successfully deploying the platform globally. A recent Yes magazine article written by Nathan Schneider describes how they obtained unique financing while retaining the social mission. They used redeemable preference shares with investors that keeps bottom-line decision-making with the cooperative. My brief research to understand redeemable preference shares brought me to the Wikipedia page: hybrid security which may or may not clarify them for you.

Loomio is a practical tool, and a co-op. With the advancement of UX in user-friendly platforms such as this, we can start to use and appreciate real democratically-owned services on the web.

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