What would it take to convert Twitter Inc. into a user-owned cooperative? In September, after news broke that the company was in talks with potential buyers, Nathan Schneider, scholar in residence of media studies at the University of Colorado, Boulder, penned an op-ed in The Guardian inviting readers to conceptualize the idea. He wrote:
I’m sure many of us have ideas about how we could make Twitter meet our needs better. One suggestion that came my way: “actually moderating threats and hatespeech.” But what would it take to put Twitter in the hands of those who rely on it most?
The idea sparked significant interest — so much so that several dozen people leapt into action to make it a reality. They started the discussion on Loomio, the crowd decision-making platform, and kept the conversation going through a dedicated Slack channel.
Among other things, the group, including Shareable, created a Change.org petition that has been signed by more than 3,000 Twitter users interested in buying the platform. Despite the initial enthusiasm, however, it soon became clear that rolling this initiative forward was no easy task. There were some major questions about the financial viability of the project with no clear answers.
Now there is an opportunity for some frank discussions about where to go next with the idea. On Friday, Dec. 9 at 12:30 p.m. ET, there will be a discussion on Google Hangouts with experts on how users could organize to take control of digital platforms. The conversation will look beyond the co-op conversion of Twitter and consider ways that users could collectively finance purchases of online services that we rely on.
The discussion will be moderated by Douglas Rushkoff, media theorist and author of "Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus: How Growth Became the Enemy of Prosperity." Other experts on the panel include Nathan Schneider, Rachael Lamkin, principal at IP Defense litigation firm, and David Hammer, executive director of the Industrial Cooperative Association (ICA) Group.