I have long had the inkling of an idea that a co-op would be an interesting model to use in setting up a social web business of some kind. According to the International Cooperative Alliance a co-op is
an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social, and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly-owned and democratically-controlled enterprise.
I think this sums up quite nicely the view many of us have about the social or open web and it fits in an awful lot better with my lifestyle than the win at all costs attitude of alot of start-ups you read about.
For quite some time I was bouncing around some ideas around a co-op that focused on running innovative conferences and events and in particular the ‘amplified‘ elements of those gatherings but apart from conversations with a few friends and colleagues I never really explored it very deeply (in part because I joined Jiva just as I was starting to find some focus for my ideas.) I still have some interest in this area as any reader of this blog would realise and often return to those topics as a way of regaining my positivity about the work I do.
Recently the Analog Coop was launched and it got me thinking about this all again. Analog is something very different to the ideas I had in mind but at its core it demonstrates the possibilities a co-op offers. They have put together an international team of very talented folk in their fields who I am sure will be great things but I was always thinking of something much more local and also something that included a shared, bricks and mortar space. Whether part of that need for a ‘home’ is because I also think co-working is something that will become more and more mainstream and I’d like to be involved in that or just the fact I know I’d go crazy working at home is unclear!
I do like the idea of working in a team that is democratic at its core and not led by the whims of any individual but I also wonder how you remove the ‘death by committee’ element from things? I also wonder who ends up doing the business end of things if you end of with a group of people only interested in the ‘fun’ stuff? I soon realised I would be a failure as a freelancer due to my complete lack of interest in anything that wasn’t what I found interesting! Despite these questions I think it is something I would like to try out one of these days – maybe at the end of my current JISC contract I’ll give it a go and see what happens.