The way we work is changing forever. A host of technologies — from automation to digital platforms for coordination of tasks — are reinventing not just what people do to earn a living but at a much deeper level how we organize to create value. The landscape of labor economics is in upheaval. In the process, new platforms, algorithms, and attitudes are undermining many established institutions, regulatory regimes, and work practices, challenging some of the basic tenets of the social safety net established in the 20th century.
Different collectives are now questioning the way we design services and organizations today, empowered on these new technologies that we now have at hand. Cities like Barcelona are wrangling about finding ways to keep their “technological sovereignty” when confronted with the domination of globally growing platforms; movements like PlatformCoop are bringing together researchers, designers and innovators hoping to find a way to have more collaboration and a fairer distribution of value between the different stakeholders of emerging platforms: founders, peers and funders.
Way too often, the discussion is centered on the problems we see – driven by the impacts that large scale platforms generate on our societies, impacts that are clearly visible – but, rarely - we see an articulated and open discussion about envisioning the solutions. Beyond the public discussion, and sometimes outside of it, explorers and pioneers are increasingly finding new ways at the convergence of design thinking, technical mastery, intelligent policymaking and responsible funding strategies. At this exact convergence lies the opportunity for us to understand and improve our capability to leverage on the power of platform thinking and network effects for positive impact, for building positive platforms.
Informed by nearly 50 years of research on technology, economics, and the transformation of work, Institute For The Future (IFTF) in Palo Alto, California has launched a major initiative to help prototype “Positive Platforms”—platforms that not only maximize profits for their owners, but also provide dignified and sustainable livelihoods for those who work on them - and gave me the opportunity to coordinate the design of this event.
Photo courtesy Alex Krause
We’re hosting a two-day Positive Platform Jam in Palo Alto where we’re inviting creative technologists, social inventors, policy experts, and thought leaders to envision possible solutions to the thorny challenges embedded in the evolving on-demand economy, and prototype key elements of Positive Platforms. Designers, hackers, labor organizers, and many others are invited to participate in these event.
In the collaborative and global spirit - the same behind Shareable’s #MapJams for example - we’re not just organizing a single event in California, but will instead be making this a distributed global happening! Together with the Jam in Palo Alto, we’re looking for organizations, communities and teams that want to host similar Positive Platforms Jams all over the world, integrating a greater diversity of points of view in our discussion without the need to fly to Palo Alto to have a say. We’ve already got cities such as Milan, New Orleans, Mexico City and Recife on board and we’re trying to get things started in other cities such as Rome, Paris, Montreal and more.
Participants and organizers of the Positive Platform Jams around the world will join a global community and will be welcome to propose a targeted research proposal - ideally on the base of the activities they carried out at the Jams - and will be eligible to win a three-month Positive Platform Fellowship. Applications to host a one or two-day jam in your city are open until Sunday November 6th. Regional hosts will receive guidelines and instructions to help ensure the the success of your event events and get you connected with the global discourse.
The Positive Platform Jams will be based on a mix of well proven co-creation methodologies and will guide the participants through a partially self emerging and self organized agendas that will mix cultural provocations and focused collaboration to generate tangible results and insights: platform prototypes, replicable design models, new financial tools, data management frameworks, software hacks, and more.
Participants will be able to meet and interact with each other, expanding their capabilities in design and prototyping. They will also have the opportunity to meet founders and funders that are raising ambitious questions and will gather a deeper understanding of the perspective of policymakers facing the challenge of regulating platform impact: The Jam will be an unprecedented context for building relationships and learning.
IFTF will share the outcomes of the Positive Platforms Jams with the media and an expansive network to provoke further conversations, iterations, and hopefully action.
Advancing our possibilities to build positive platforms is a challenge we all share.
Apply to participate in the Positive Platform Jam here.
***Shareable's Strategic Partnerships Director, Tom Llewellyn, will be participating in the Positive Platforms Jam in Palo Alto.