In partnership with SFU's school of communication

Reimagining the Sharing Economy: Cooperative Platforms for Democracy

The sharing economy has come under fire for exploiting workers, siphoning profits from users who create content for free, and using rhetoric that distorts the reality that it’s championed by large capitalist corporations. But could tech-solutions genuinely empower workers and change those structures? How do we diversify participation in technological innovation and ensure that solutions are built with communities from the ground up?

This track will examine how communities and media makers are using technology and creating platforms for community and organization building. It will envision technological advancement that challenges the status quo, works to effect social change, and includes marginalized communities.

We are especially interested in sessions that explore cooperative technologies in the following areas:

Social Enterprises and Business Enterprises

  • Lend basic knowledge about how some of these platforms operate.
  • Explore how platforms can help to restructure organizations and provide alternatives to hierarchical corporate and non-governmental organizations
  • Discuss how ideas like Platform Cooperativism could aid workers’ rights movements in different sectors.
  • Find ways to challenge the assumptions of the Sharing Economy.
  • Explore if ideas like Peer2Peer knowledge and global collaborative communications can be applied to localized programs or organizations.
  • Explore how technology and the building of platforms can be used to resist the goals of neoliberal capitalism.


Media Making and The Arts

  • Address the issue of funding projects for social change. What new and innovative models are being explored in journalism, activism, and the arts?
  • Talk about the risks and benefits of using crowdfunding.
  • Identify and discuss how we can work towards better pay/benefits for artists/non-profit workers, and those who are currently underpaid.
  • Examine how platforms could strengthen communities or build partnerships among organizations.


Community Engagement

  • Address how training in technology and platform development can become more accessible and point to resources for community members.
  • Discuss best practices for active listening, community input and community education. How do we make sure that tech solutions are serving real needs in a community?
  • Examine how hacker/maker spaces fit within activism or journalism.