The web marginalizes cooperatives: it’s up to us to change things!
The cooperative movement is embodied by its cooperative associations active worldwide, at local, national and international levels. Cooperative associations have two main functions: to promote the cooperative model (to policy makers and the general public) and to stimulate innovation among their members (through the sharing and pooling of knowledge and resources).
In order to stimulate innovation and disseminate the cooperative model, cooperative associations run educational programs for entrepreneurs. Cooperatives Europe and the International Cooperative Alliance (ICA) help their members to launch and consolidate such programs by stimulating the sharing of expertise and resources. Together with their members and stakeholders, they produce and share free open resources, consisting of methodologies and educational materials, to promote and support cooperative entrepreneurship in their respective territories.
Yet, current web solutions have done too little to make cooperative resources accessible to the general public. To communicate with their members and partners, cooperative associations rely on traditional solutions such as emailing and publishing on websites. Unfortunately, the algorithms of search engines, driven by the logic of profit generation, tend to favor commercial content intended for a large audience, to the detriment of targeted knowledge tools. Thus, content for cooperative entrepreneurs is marginalized from the dominant search engines.
It is time for the cooperative movement to emancipate itself from technologies that fundamentally discriminate against cooperative values and identities. Expecting Google to deliver cooperative resources is a losing battle. Instead, cooperative associations need to establish a web infrastructure that can connect cooperative actors directly to their stakeholders – without depending on their competitors. In other words, cooperation between cooperatives must be realized on the web.
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