R. Trebor Scholz – Own This!: How Platform Cooperatives Help Workers Build a Democratic Internet


Verso, ISBN 978-1839764554, English, 236 pages, 2023, UK

There is an economic model that we see as irreversible, celebrated above all by American corporations: the ‘single-entrepreneur heroism’ with a technology company whose profits grow geometrically year after year. This type of enterprise that has emerged within start-up culture does not benefit society in most cases but rather leads to further exploitation of labour and resources. In contrast, the cooperative model, with its collaborative and diffused nature, uses platform infrastructure with a different consciousness complimented by a more egalitarian way of using software and networks. Scholz is not new to these issues, having worked on them over the years and co-organised ‘Free Cooperation’, a conference and reader on cooperation through the internet in 2004. In Own This!, he elucidates the concept of platform cooperatives that use available technologies to effectively run businesses and initiatives. The book is well balanced between inspiring and scalable case studies and people-centric visions (what if social media were owned by users who could decide on rules and improvements?), that represent entirely possible future scenarios. Consequently, the book ends with a letter from 2035, looking back at possible developments and giving a very useful ‘how to’ to lead new endeavours and instigate a much-needed collaborative culture.