Tech Layoffs - Opportunity for Tech Cooperatives?

There has been a spate of major layoffs in big tech. This means there are a number of people who in the next few months will be looking for roles and be annoyed with how technology is generally made.

Me and @dajbelshaw have been chatting on social.coop about how this might be a moment of change and opportunity for people to get involved in tech cooperatives.

1. Get people to join tech coops.

Now, few of us have lots of spare capital lying around to scale up people. However, if we do have roles to fill, can they be filled here?

2. Get people to found tech coops.

This is the better but harder route. Advice, coaching and templates that let people know how for form them are in order here. At Common Knowledge we have an informal rule that we will give an hours time to anyone who wants to escape mainstream tech and form a coop. One or two coops now exist due to ths rule!

Is this something workers.coop or Coops UK could be actively doing? @Sion?

Any thoughts on this pragmatically? There is an international dimension too - the vast majority of these layoffs are unlikely to be in the UK, so there is need for expertise in setting up cooperatives in other juristictions.

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Building on your one hour rule, maybe if we had a super group of coop members that could be available for 1hr calls we could launch our own Digital Candle service but on on accessing coops. We could use it answer questions about any group at CoTech, how to start a coop, opportunities that may be available, and all act as a conduit back to the collective.

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I like it Steve and it’s a great start.

Digital Candle is a great model for this. I wonder if we could just borrow the digital tooling that made it work, as believe it has been written up and Catalyst are very much in favour of re-use.

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According to this helpful list the numbers are pretty considerable.

310,942 people in total. At a glace, about 1,000 in the UK. Someone could export this CSV and take a look!

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I don’t know which tech is running Digital Candle, but I might be able to find out through the reuse circle. We’ve rebuilt the Coffee Connections service, which is very similar and we definitely have the option to reuse that.

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Thanks for getting the discussion going @alex! There seems to be a lot of interest on the Fediverse as the post keeps getting boosts, likes, and replies.

@hawkz I’m sure Catalyst would be up for us creating our own version of the Digital Candle service (not that I think we particularly have to ask permission). View source on the question page suggests they’re using Airtable? I know you know your way around that :wink:

To me, this is a perfect CoTech project as there’s a simple and straightforward end goal in mind. No need for endless philosophising (although I’m always up for that!) but rather a bounded amount of work with a tangible end product.

I’m in, if others are?

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I’ve never used Nextcloud forms but they might support the features required and if they do we could simply use the CoTech Nextcloud for a back-end?

I’d be happy - with the Platform 6 hat on - to offer some pro bono time providing advice/guidance/question answering around common ‘how do I go about starting a co-op’ questions, business planning, etc.

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Sounds like it might work. Do I still have access to NextCloud? Want to play with it.

@dajbelshaw or @Graham do you have the capacity to do the day to day operations of this if it becomes a thing?

I know that I don’t, but do have time to be involved in taking meetings. Presumably this will involve just dishing out calendar booking things to people in some sort of way.

Other things needed:

  1. Domain - howdoisetupatech.coop?
  2. Quick one page website.
  3. Someone to run the general ops. We can ask Digital Candle how to they do it and they might tell us. I imagine it is a chain of no code tools and automations.

I can’t put forward a proposal to the CoTech fund as we don’t yet pay our dues, but someone who can may be able to secure resources for this.

I think we probably have a meeting of interested parties who are willing to give up an hour under Principle 6 to have a chat about it. I’m usually free on Friday afternoons? Could do this Friday (27th Jan) at 14:00 UTC/GMT?

(feel free to like this post if you want an invite, or alternatively suggest a different time)

I’d suggest domains and tech can wait until we know what an MVP would involve and therefore the time commitment. If it’s significant enough to make a proposal to the CoTech Fund, then WAO pays in so I’d be happy to make it.

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I’ve updated your email address at office.coops.tech and added you to the admin group.

I’d strongly suggest we use a sub-domain of an existing domain, eg setup.coops.tech or howdoisetupatechcoop.cotech.uk or whatever, we have coops.tech and cotech.uk, as the domain name registration and renewal costs really add up over the years if domains are registered for every one-page site needed… I could set this up today if wanted.

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I have very little capacity, but as noted I’m happy to invest a little time supporting/advising people who are serious about setting something up.

Agree on the subdomain thing!

A few CoTech folk (me, Kayleigh, Polly and I think Aaron at least) took the Barefoot Cooperative Development course over the last couple of years, so we’ve built up a bit of experience that might be useful in advising new co-ops.

I love the idea of a dedicated page to explain to tech folks how they might get involved or do it themselves.

I’ll try to make it along on Friday!

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Here’s a link for those interested in joining on Friday!

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Thanks for setting this up @dajbelshaw!

I’m away on Friday, but do share the notes and I will jump back in on my return. As I said can’t be involved in the day to day, but happy to help with setting it up, taking calls and encouraging others to do the same.

Hey all, just one sign-up so far (thanks @chrislowis!) so I’ll give it until lunchtime tomorrow and if there’s no-one else interested I’ll just cancel it.

(which is fine - one of the reasons I wanted to do it this way was to see how much energy there was for this kind of thing!)

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I’ve reached out to Platypus to see what’s available to be shared… I’ll update if anything useful comes out of that.

It might be more convincing if you used meet.coop as the video app. :smiley:

As you’re a member of Social.coop, then you’ve already got an account on their instance. You just need to activate it. :smiley:

There’s also a large number of economic opportunities that can only be accessed by co-op’s. :smiley:

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