Hire a cleaning co-op? There's an app for that, and they built it
May 8, 2019 8:00 AM   Subscribe

Between 2006 and Aug. 2018, the Center for Family Life helped start fifteen co-ops—ranging from childcare to home repair services—with a total of 534 workers and $11 million in revenue, according to the organization (via Vice | Free Money), with funding from places like the Robin Hood Foundation. In 2016, CFL worked with co-ops to develop their own booking app, to make it easier for customers to engage the service, and it would allow workers to market themselves more easily on social networks. And they would own their own code, with no Silicon Valley “disrupter” skimming profits off the top. When Workers Control the Code (Wired)

More from Wired:
For workers looking to run their own show, the technical barriers are shrinking, notes Trebor Scholz, a New School professor who has popularized the concept of “platform cooperativism.” Building a marketplace app just isn't that hard anymore, , nor is charging credit cards. Scholz's team is writing open source code that anyone can customize; his first set of pilot projects includes working with 3,000 child-care workers in Illinois and a co-op of women in Ahmedabad, India, doing beauty-care work.

“What you have is much more dignified work, where people are in control,” Scholz says.
The Platform Cooperativism Consortium (PCC) at The New School, receives $1,000,000 Google.org grant -- Google.org Foundation Grant Will Support the Development of Cooperatives in the Digital Economy
posted by filthy light thief (12 comments total) 56 users marked this as a favorite
 
Disrupting the disruptors. A glimmer of hope in the murk of despair.
posted by seanmpuckett at 8:16 AM on May 8, 2019 [13 favorites]


Wow, this is awesome! Read the fine print on Google's grant, though.
posted by rhizome at 9:00 AM on May 8, 2019 [1 favorite]


Rhizome, can you share your findings?
posted by rebent at 9:22 AM on May 8, 2019


The platform cooperativism link above has a searchable directory of cooperative platforms in case anyone else was trying to find a list.

Lots of taxi companies/ride shares etc, some really interesting sounding sharing community tools, and then a grab bag of the usual "something something blockchain everyone wins" type apps. A few sound a little sketchy - I won't name names because I haven't looked deep enough, but as an example there are "give us all your social media data and we'll invest it and give you a coop dividend" type apps...

The one community rideshare app I downloaded on a whim would only let me login and take a ride if I linked Facebook to it. So no.
posted by inflatablekiwi at 9:26 AM on May 8, 2019 [6 favorites]


nor is charging credit cards

This part does make me nervous. Which is also related to this:

The one community rideshare app I downloaded on a whim would only let me login and take a ride if I linked Facebook to it.

So, the reason it's easy to put together an app now that has logins and takes credit cards is because you hook those apps up to other companies that manage those things for you. If you have to do those things yourself, it's way harder to maintain secure data. Way harder. But the companies that are making these things available are not themselves neutral, and some of them are companies that I have a huge problem with already, like Facebook.

Still, it's a step in the right direction, because the exploitive startups are doing exactly the same thing to get their apps going. I do hope that if this catches on more broadly, people might be able to work together to provide non-evil authentication and payment processing and all that, too.
posted by Sequence at 9:32 AM on May 8, 2019 [5 favorites]


people might be able to work together to provide non-evil authentication and payment processing and all that, too

My first thought on this is that Credit Unions should be involved, if they aren't already. Credit Unions already have their own fancy banking apps, which I assume aren't tied to Google or Facebook, so that seems like a cleaner way to process payments and potentially do authentication.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:39 AM on May 8, 2019 [1 favorite]


Rhizome, can you share your findings?

I don't have any, I just think it's good advice for everything Google does.
posted by rhizome at 9:44 AM on May 8, 2019


> My first thought on this is that Credit Unions should be involved, if they aren't already. Credit Unions already have their own fancy banking apps, which I assume aren't tied to Google or Facebook, so that seems like a cleaner way to process payments and potentially do authentication

Doing auth and payments directly with financial institutions comes with a huge quagmire of legal hurdles. The service Stripe et al aren't just payments providers, they're the compliance and fraud backend that most companies have to fund themselves. Granted, credit unions could certainly help make this easier, but any balance sheet security and additional staff required by them to wade into the wild west of internet payments is money they're not putting back into the community.
posted by cirgue at 9:46 AM on May 8, 2019 [3 favorites]


So, the reason it's easy to put together an app now that has logins and takes credit cards is because you hook those apps up to other companies that manage those things for you.

In fact, it can be done with two lines of code, two lines that are pretty much the same for everybody who uses them so they're easy to find. You can create two blank HTML pages, each with a respective snippet of code, and you have a site where someone can log in with the Facebook account, then be presented with a button to send money via Stripe. You can also get their likes and whatever other data FB allows 3rd party apps to see. Everything else is catalog and gimcrack.
posted by rhizome at 9:49 AM on May 8, 2019 [3 favorites]


 Wow, this is awesome! Read the fine print on Google's grant, though.

The not-for-profit I work for received a Google.org grant to develop the LipSync: a mouth controlled input device to operate a touchscreen device. The grant's free of any strings attached, and we've also had many events around our assistive tech sponsored by Google with countless volunteer hours from Google employees.

Please don't make baseless assertions about an organization's arm's-length foundation. Especially not one that knows where you live … {/}
posted by scruss at 10:36 AM on May 8, 2019 [10 favorites]


I happily use Up & Go. It's not really the same experience as what I expect one of the gig-economy cleaning apps would be--the "booking app" is really a form that passes your information to a person in an office who pairs you with a co-op and does the booking. In many ways that's better--I book a series of recurring appointments, before the last one, the office person emails me and says "Hey, if we just continue your booking, it'll be these days, does that work?", I say "Yes, but I might have to move one", they say "No worries, I'll make a note to re-confirm that one". I always book with the same person and she texts me a few days before if she needs to reschedule.
posted by hoyland at 5:26 PM on May 8, 2019



My first thought on this is that Credit Unions should be involved, if they aren't already.

The Post Office!

posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 5:28 PM on May 8, 2019 [4 favorites]


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