natematias's blog | MIT Center for Civic Media

Threats and Challenges to Cooperative Economies: Platform Cooperativism Conference

What challenges must be overcome to move towards cooperative economies?

This weekend, I'm here at the Platform cooperativism conference, where I'll be talking on Saturday at 4pm. This session on "making it work" featured a series of sociologists, legal scholars, and business scholars to discuss this question.

Juliet Schor (@JulietSchor): How To Build And Sustain Cooperative Platforms

What could the platform cooperativism movement learn from how people are experiencing peer economies? When we try to clone the heart of these platforms, what does that heart look like?

What is Platform Cooperativism and Why is it Important?

(this blog post was written with Katie Arthur)

What is platform cooperativism and why is it needed?

Today, we're here at the New School in New York City for the Platform Cooperativism conference, which is bringing together a remarkable range of speakers on the theme of creating online platforms that are owned and operated by their users and workers. These two days feature speakers from a wide range of academic disciplines alongside people sharing their experiences of running co-ops and advocating for fair work in platform economies.

Trebor starts out his jeremiad telling us that the missing element in discussions of economic problems is the lack of something we can say yes to -- something that people could actually build and support. In this first session of the day, Unpacking Platforms, Trebor Scholz and Janelle Orsi offer a set of principles and platform examples that they hope will frame our conversations over the next two days.

Consequences of the Sharing Economy in the US

Bot-Based Collective Blocklists in Twitter: The Counterpublic Moderation of a Privately-Owned Networked Public Space

Here at the 16th conference of the Association of Internet Researchers, I attended a talk by Stuart Geiger, who is doing helpful work to theorize the role of block bots in conversation on the Internet. Over the years, Stuart's thinking has been deeply influential to my own approach. I've written about his work twice before, in my Atlantic article about how people work to fix broken systems that aren't theirs to repair. I've also liveblogged a great talk he gave on supporting change from the outside platforms.

Stuart opens by saying that block bots are systems where anti-harassment activists have developed algorithmic software agents to deal with harassment, relatively independently from Twitter. Blockbots involve different kinds of gatekeeping than what we typically think about. It's different from algorithmic gatekeeping (Tufekci), network gatekeeping (Nahon), or filter bubbles (Pariser). How can we make sense of it?

Online Vigilantes, the Wikipedia GamerGate Controversy, Ethics of Bots at AOIR 16

I'm here at the 16th AOIR conference liveblogging a session on ethics. You can see the abstracts and papers here.

To start out Mathias Klang gives a talk about "online vigilantism," On The Internet Nobody Can See Your Cape: The ethics of online vigilantism. What is online vigilantism? Mathias talks about large-scale online responses to the Justine Sacco case, the infamous smiling selfie from Auschwitz, the dentist who shot cecil the lion, the woman who put a cat in a bin in Coventry. Most of these events don't go to court; they are actions that lead us to be annoyed somehow, says Mathias.

Religious Hashtags, Memes, and Apps Online: AOIR 16 Liveblog

This weekend, I'm here at the 16th AOIR conference, blogging panels and talks, as well as talking about my research on ways that users put platforms under pressure.

As a Christian who occasionally writes about intersections between faith and technology, I was delighted to attend the AOIR session on religion and the Internet. Here are my notes.

How Can Online Platforms Prioritize Worker Interests? Steven Dawson on Worker-owned Co-ops

What does it take to create business models that put worker well-being at their center, and what can platform economies learn from that history? How can we turn a lousy job into a better one?

Every Tuesday, Brian Keegan and I are privileged to facilitate the Berkman Cooperation working group, which brings together a Boston-wide conversation among designers, advocates, social scientists, computer scientists, and economists on themes of online cooperation. This week, we welcomed Steven Dawson, a veteran leader in the U.S. co-op movement. Here are my live notes from the conversation.

Steven Dawson is the co-founder of Paraprofessional Healthcare, the largest employee-owned co-op in the U.S. Together with Steven, we had a discussion about peer production and cooperative sharing economies through the lens of the concrete histories and operations of cooperative businesses.

The Cornhole Experiment: A Workshop for Teaching Randomized Trials

In recent years, UK and US governments have increasingly turned to randomized trials to test new policies, most recently in the case of the White House executive order on behavioral science. In the meantime, economics has been undergoing what Angrist and Pischke have called a "credibility revolution," that focuses on offering causal explanations to questions. This has especially been the case in development economics, where "randomistas" have grown in prominence after an influential and controversial 2004 study on the effect of deworming on school attendance in Kenya.

Doctoral Feedback Session on Causal Inference at OSSM: Deadline Oct 19

Are you a PhD student who is doing research that uses methods of causal inference (randomized trials, natural experiments, etc) on social media and user generated data?

If so, I have good news, of a last minute addition to the AAAI Spring Symp. on Observational Studies through Social Media and Other Human-Generated Content. This workshop, which takes place at Stanford on March 21-23, is a 3-day gathering that brings together researchers across disciplines to discuss approaches and issues for causal inference research.

The organizers have kindly offered space for a doctoral feedback session for PhD students planning to do related work. This informal gathering will bring together PhD students to get feedback on their research designs and work together to improve the quality of our methods. Since so many of the speakers and attendees are experienced at using causal inference methods, it's the perfect context to share early stage work and get feedback on your research.

The Story Behind MIT and Boston University's New Legal Clinic for Student Innovation

Today, MIT President Rafael Reif announced an exciting collaboration between MIT and the Boston University School of Law "to assist students with a broad range of legal matters related to entrepreneurship and cyber law, from basic issues associated with the founding of startup companies to novel questions about the application of laws and regulations to students’ innovation-related activities" (here's the BU press release). The legal clinic is the culmination of years of discussions and work by student advocates, faculty, and administration to address a recurring need at MIT for robust and supportive legal help for students doing innovative work.

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