I had yet another interaction with co-op type folks who don’t see past club-goods.
That was in context of a discussion around this excellent podcast Your Undivided Attention 36 - [Unedited] A Problem Well-Stated Is Half-Solved which focuses on global coordination as the primary “meta problem”, the dilemma at the heart of all the other problems. If we solve coordination, we can address everything else, if we can’t solve coordination, all the other efforts are doomed.
side note: I think that podcast is possibly the single best I’ve encountered for a global, historical, philosophical laying out of the basic state of the world today
In that context, the key point was made: there are two ways to solve global coordination. There’s the “closed society” (top-down, authoritarian, e.g. China) and the “open society” approach (bottom-up, democratic, citizen-led, e.g. ostensibly Western Europe maybe in principle rather than practice).
These two factors brought me to recognize what I think is the key question, the place where I feel everything must be focused:
This is the question we must start with. Neither exclusive club goods nor top-down, totalitarian control are able to bring us to the future we really want. However, they can indeed function in ways that are much harder with public goods and an open society.
We could focus our framing on this space. A first-draft rough table:
|club goods||public goods|
|top-down||Proprietary corporate publishers||Government, tax-funded|
|bottom-up||Most co-ops & indie publishers||Snowdrift.coop, FLO movements|
Most FLO movements (meaning the ones that are driven by the FLO principles, not the incidental corporate version of using FLO) are bottom-up and public goods, but they aren’t asking about the problem of how to really support and fund the work.
We could potentially define this space more clearly. It should be obvious that the FLO-upstream-for-downstream-club-goods is not in the space. And the FLO activists who don’t recognize the coordination problem at the heart of things are simply not recognizing the issues, even though they have good intentions.
After all these years, the issue is that the open society, bottom up, public goods coordination problem remains unsolved, and I’m mostly not even seeing others starting with this foundational question. I think we have the question and the diagnosis in hand, and we need to get others to recognize this in order to then get them on board with working with us (directly or indirectly) to solve this challenge.
(I’d love to strengthen these ideas and make this a blog post and eventually even maybe a framing we emphasize on the main site, but I’m sharing the thoughts this way first)