Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Incorporate the Cooperative Blogosphere (Paul Woodhouse)

blogs and coops Posted by Hello


by Paul Woodhouse, as emailed to me.

Paul operates the Butler Sheet Metal corporate site and Tinbasher blog at:

(I had turned off javascript, due to a Firefox security concern, thus could not create live links, embedded URLs, in posts,


They had decided it was time shoppers were treated with honesty, openess and respect, that they should be able to share in the profits that their custom contributed to and that they should have a democratic right to have a say in the business. Every customer of the shop became a member and so had a true stake in the business.

This way of doing business was revolutionary. These businessmen didn't adulterate products, putting leaves in tea or chalk in flour. They didn't simply see customers as the way to make a profit at the expense of others.

Hands up if you think this is a description of business blogging.

Hands up if you'd like it to be a description of business blogging.

In fact, this harks back to 1844 and the Rochdale Pioneers who were responsible for starting the Co-operative movement.

As with all things, nothing is relatively new nowadays. It's just that we forget where we may have heard everything before.

I'm a Lancastrian and don't live too far away from Rochdale.

For me, the principles of bloggingare common sense and they aren't a million miles away from the principles stated above and the principles I've always naturally adhered to in

Granted, the profit sharing business possibly isn't something we get excited about in terms of blogging, but we are supposed to share our information freely amongst our customers and we also gladly pool our information resources for the benefit of ourselves and this, in turn, profits customers again.

Blogging isn't a revolution.

It's simply a reaction to all the PR/marketing crap that has built up over the past 50 years in a similar way that the Co-op was and still is a reaction to unscrupulous capitalism.

We talk of conversations and authenticity and any other related business blogging buzzword, but the underpinning philosophy that some eschew has been around for quite some time. But, because blogs are a tool, you're also more than welcome to use them for anything you damn well please. Good or evil. The real fight is for blogging's 'soul'.

The bit about blogging that anybody can understand is the way that they work. Any fool can set one up and any fool can understand the blogosphere. To quote the Funboy Three and Banarama - 'It's not what you do but the way that you do it.'

The fact that blogs allow anybody to say anything, in anyway they please, is obviously the blog's strongest and weakest points.

It's all about conflicting philosophies, contrary political opinions and differing business models.

All models will work within a blog framework. You only need know how to build and maintain the framework in the first place.

A talking moose blog can work, if the tool is understood and punters like it.

It's the philosophy behind it that is the real bone of contention.

Thankfully, blogging was brought onto the wibbling wobbling way to be an honest broker. Whatever your political opinion, political blogs, on the whole, attempt to be an antidote to the dominance and agenda setting of MSM.

Likewise, business blogs attempt to be an antidote to PR led campaigns and meaningless marketing mantras. However, we also see MSM moaning about blogs not following their lead.

And we see all manner of business blogs looking like nothing more than a cheaper method of promoting existing messages.

But, the Co-operative movement didn't die and neither will blogging.

Here's a snippet about the current state of the Co-operativesphere.

Think of the USA and what do you think of? The world's superpower? The
ultimate consumer society?

Whatever it is that springs to mind, it may surprise you to know that the USA alone has over 47,000 co-ops, with 120 million members--that's 40% of the population.

Its credit union movement has more than 76 million members, its electric co-ops cover more than 30 million people and new co-ops are popping up everywhere, not least in New York City where 1st Rochdale Co-operative is supplying everything from telecommunications to Internet access.

In Sweden, there are approximately 200,000 local societies with between 25 and 30 million members - that means the vast majority of the population are members of at least one co-op.

Co-operatives are providing products, goods and services, as well as employment to billions of people and more and more people are realising that co-operatives can help solve social and economic problems experienced by communities the world over.

If blogging comes anywhere near then all is well. Do you not think?


[STREIGHT: Watch how many people fear, hate, and avoid writing...

...signing papers, taking notes, transcribing audio speech recordings, keeping a journal, engraving a sentiment on a piece of jewelry, drawing letters with a stick in the snow, passing a love note to a beloved, composing a poem, jotting down travel directions or stew recipes... now all of a sudden every business person on earth, many of whom write with great difficulty, substantial deficiencies, and serious misgivings...

...suddenly we're to submit to the idea that anyone may submit content to the web, via a blog?

People who cannot write, cannot speak, cannot think well, these people are supposed to start voicing themselves and promoting items, through writing, as displayed and archived in a weblog?

Suddenly, if you're a business person, we all assume that you can write, and since you need to connect with your customers, and your competitors are using blogs to tell interesting stories, to share tips, and to interact with customers...

...because of all this, it's now mandatory: you had better start blogging.

Like all revolutions, the Blog Revolution is always revolution, never revolution, both-always-revolution-and-never-revolution, and neither-always-revolution-nor-never-revolution.

I see these New Super Bloggers challenging the status quo, frightening the lurkers and passers-by, re-capturing the hearts and minds of the blogosphere and the alleged "world beyond", the imagined "biosphere".

Re-define and re-fashion the existing Commodity Net's "blogosphere", finish with refinishing it, then move on rapidly and skillfully to the sets of objects that await us on Internet2 and the Interplanetary Internet, which is really a loose confederation of disconnected, mostly off, out-of-phase, dismorphic independent networks that occasionally seek to connect and accomplish something, something only sporadically necessary.

New Super Blogs =

multi-media option-driven communication,
information, entertainment, community building,
and transformation-activism platforms,

enabling global web content publishing,

with team or public

user-generated comments,
archiving, and retrieval.

Blogs = the upsurge of human beings into the forbidden web world of corporate fluff clouds, ecommerce shopping carts, and pay per click.

Blogs = the universalization of web content publishing, every thought on earth inscriptable now on an electronic, computerized akashic records (mystical accumulation of all things that happen, everything that is said, done, and though.)]

NOW----what do YOU think?

Can blogs evolve like coops?

Can blogs move beyond narcissism and into community formation and activism?

Post a comment or email me your opinion.



[signed] Steven Streight aka Vaspers the Grate aka Leopold the Told


steven edward streight said...

Paul Woodhouse emailed me this comment:

[QUOTE by Paul Woodhouse]

I think there may be an actual case for blogging/web presence co-operatives where customers are offered an opportunity to invest and share in the company. That would ensure the fuckers were commenting if nothing else.

Would an online co-operative work though? I'm not sure.

It'd be an infinitely better experiment than setting up a pro bloggers association or safe group blogs.

What says you?

[END QUOTE by Paul Woodhouse]

[STREIGHT replies]:

Reply Forward Invite Paul to Gmail

Steven Streight
to Paul

RE: More options 7:45 pm (0 minutes ago)

I'm doing what I can to break blogs away from islanding, perpetuation
of empty clinking, the sugarmost candelabra, unlit and unenlightened.

Activism is the only aim.

Not how many hit the blog, but how many the blog can hit.



[END REPY by Streight]

steven edward streight said...

Paul Woodhouse, prior to the above comment, emailed me the following comment, which chronologically existed first, but now this comment thread exhibits the Reverse Chronology of Blogs, the most recent appears ahead of the most ancient:

[QUOTE by Paul Woodhouse]

I don't know whether I was exactly trying to claim that blogs are co-operatives, or whether they'd be able to work along co-op lines.

It was the core values of the co-op that struck me.

I think it would take a bit more looking into as to whether they are wholly similar.

But, the whole co-op thing seems at least partially cluetrain to me.

That picture is absolutely spot-on.

That's exactly how I've been looking at the blogosphere of late.

I know that blogs are moving towards community.

Just this weekend I was at a meeting with Harry and the Labour Friends of Iraq. They were discussing how best to integrate and layer political activism via blogs (Harry's Place) and the grass roots Labour movement.

It's happening and it's real and it works.

The beauty is that ppl don't have to learn a completely new speak. It's just more in line with a bit of good old fashioned human decency.

[STREIGHT: Tom Peters, in THE PURSUIT OF WOW! book, says, on page 60:

"High ethical standards--business or otherwise--are, above all, about treating people decently. To me, that means respect for a person's opinions, privacy, background, dignity, and natural desire to grow."

...and Tom Peters, same book, next page (61):

"By their very nature, organizations run roughshod over individuals. They produce powerless and humiliation for most participants, with more skill than they produce widgets."

[END REPLY by Streight]