Coopon is a (science & technology) worker's cooperative seeking to find economic sustainability through the use of Free S/W, H/W, & Design tools, skills, business models in the context of commons based peer production.
We emerge out of network effect between free software and open hardware communities through Internet and in our locality. We are anti-capitalistic, anti-enclosure, anti-neoliberal, anti-ignorance & solidarity seeking folks, and strongly practice against caste and gender based oppression. We named ourselves as coop + pon to promulgate the Cooperative initiative from Pondy a.k.a., Puducherry as our economic sustenance model. We are a collective that also individually suffered from wage slavery, life style mechanization, peer pressure, livelihood problems, etc..
Humble beginnings of thinking about economic democracy started from sufferings of the community at several instances. Since the base platform for the cooperative is Free Software Movements from Tamil Nadu (FSFTN) and Puducherry (FSHM) - community projects such as DIY Weather Station, Community Mesh Networks, DIY Antenna construction, have naturally connected the community members with concrete current economic dynamics. Whenever the community tried to do more with its knowledge and skill, always availability, accessibility and affordability to tools became a major issue. This partly have a in-completion effect in the projects. Thus understanding about economics not only in digital & information terms, but also how it is influencing us individually as well as collectively became naturally essential.
This situation has driven the community to practice gift economy to a good extent, which is still practised nowadays as a continuous exercise. With more and more insight, learning & deliberation the necessity of making alternative economic models as pragmatic as possible, reinforced our concrete scientific reasons. Which has lead us to learn about Cooperative economic models, history, & case studies. With that impetus we decided to really try-out with a passion towards democratization in technology, self sustenance by adapting alternative strategies, collectivizing skills & tools necessary.
Though the plans for the cooperative have been going on for two years through the “Alternative Economic Models” group on Riot.im. Kamal refers to 24th Dec 2017, the first day of the first hackathon as the birth date of CooPon.
We communicate mostly through this internet messaging protocol called Matrix, using Riot.im for informal purpose, and Gitlab for formal loggable collaborative production. We liked it because of its decentralized, self host build. It is a free software too. Most of the time we discuss, learn and share links that helps us educate each other, apart from discussing about them during our frequent physical meetup sessions. Several times it became the platform for criticism, suggestions, decision making for us. Having a small group is definitely gives a good advantage for cooperative effort. But comes with more responsibility, skills, participation - which we like. In order to experience economic democracy we adhere to the Cooperative principles just like any other Cooperatives do.
In collective terms, Cooperative's sustenance founts from sustenance of its individual members. The objectives of the Coop is itself a shared one. Thus the vision and mission of the coopon would be diversified based on the ethical practice and design we make, on a case by case basis. We are committed to be transparent and democratic at all operations of the coopon. Even though it sounds like every decision making will take time, our approach to decision making is usually done using technology that reinforces democracy. The projects we wish to commit depends upon several factors:
This makes us half way through the broader political struggle we are part of. Uniting for catalyzing class consciousness all the while taking into other forms of oppression into account in Indian context, makes us not only a part of “Class in itself”, but also part of “Class for itself”. We help each other bring the awareness through both historical perspective and action towards what we are working : a broader political struggle. Thus we intend ourselves to be part of the future network of decentralized worker cooperatives - atleast in the field of information technology.
It is always some sharp questions that give us sleepless nights and drives for action even when there is no wide support, and even when we take some compromises for pragmatic sense.