Why a Cooperative?

The following video is very succinct and accurate, although bear in mind that there are very large cooperatives bigger than most corporations, such as Mondragon.


If you still aren’t convinced, take a look at this movie trailer, Shift Change:


Bartering Broadband to Cooperacy

Previously in another post, Cooperatively Barter, Trade, and Swap, I indicated a number of ways for a community to prevail in tough economic times.  More specific though to this blog is how you can use bartering, trade and swap to ensure the success of your community’s broadband endeavors.

As part of your community’s network business plan consider bartering broadband access to those community resources that can be of assistance.   Think about the resources that you need such as installers, technicians, an accountant, a lawyer, a web developer, computer repair, etc.  There are a considerable number of resources that are going to be needed.  So, in exchange for service you offer not only free broadband and VoIP, you offer them a lead generation agreement as well as being part of a service cooperative.  For every qualified lead that becomes a customer, or perhaps a cooperative member, you credit their usage account.  These credits can be used directly for the benefit and success of the community’s network.  These credits may also be used by the resource for additional service such as access to locally available online applications, perhaps business video surveillance.  Or, the credits may be even donated to a local charity, or, a local charity’s silent auction.

These resources become in fact stakeholders in an enterprise and could also become shareholders.  This in turn leads to cooperacy.  I’ve explained this in more detail in another post here, Cooperacy through Community Stakeholders and Shareholders,   This transition can be readily accomplished by a community willing to invest in their own economic future.

What Happen$ in the Community $tay$ in the Community!

Counting Sheeple

You’ve got to be kidding or dozing.  The American electoral process has to be one of the most costly and assinine ways to seek representation.   I suspect the duration is warranted to give enough spin time to influence the sheeple and allow more time for the wolves in sheeple clothing to work their influence.

I would like to live in a country where money does not dictate who gets elected; where political donations are limited; where corporations don’t override the people; where politicians receive no more compensation or benefits than those that serve on the front lines, or, for that matter having no more benefits than those homeless.

There should be a political IQ and conscience sobriety test.  Of course a synonym for sobriety is abstinence. 

We’re spending way too much time “de-spinning” what political parties, UN, IMF, NATO, Federal Reserve, etc. reports.  We should be spending the time building from a grass roots endeavor, building community networks from grass root endeavors.

As an aside, a Bruce Cockburn song, “Call It Democracy”, from 1985, which I first heard today, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=68zccrskOqQ , makes me wonder where in hell, quite literally, have I been for over 25 years as the lyrics can’t be more relevant today as they were then. I guess we really get caught up on living our own lives trusting others as conscientious bellwethers without realizing how badly we are being misled as sheeple through propaganda and irrelevant statistics.

I mean really, how in the hell does a UN report, United Nations Global Broadband Report (23 Sept 2012) , get published in the first place that measures fixed or wireline broadband connections per capita, instead of per household.  I know quite often I’m in the doghouse but it doesn’t have any broadband connection that I’m aware of.  If we really want to de-spin something, then de-spin all the broadband statistics here in the United States which includes DSL which for the most part offers only 896 Kbps upstream.  That’s all that I can get in suburbia.  Whereas, the FCC has defined broadband as 1Mbps upstream and 4Mbps downstream.  Does that ever blow current broadband statistics away and puts us into the dark ages of broadband.

You have to love those ads though saying that they can give you up to 50 Mbps of throughput and don’t tell you how much upstream.  The word “up” of course is misleading and really implies that you only get a mere fraction of that during busy times.  Try recalling the times when you attempted to call your family on Christmas Day on the landline and all you got was a busy signal.  That’s called oversubscribing and it is done with broadband as well.

If you really want accurate statistical information then have each household count the number of times per hour that their online movie gets suspended while waiting for the video stream.

Wolves in Sheeple Clothing

I was looking for free images of wolves in sheep clothing for another article in this Community Development blog, as a follow up on another similar posting, Shearing and Slaughtering of Sheeple and came across something interesting.

The availability of information on the Internet is like peeling layers of onion skins, sometimes taking us where our naiveté is exposed and in want of more information.   Sometimes what you read seems incredulous so you seek clarification from diverse sources and ultimately come to your own conclusions.

We are living in an age of deceit which will inevitably separate those with conscience and those without.   You will find more on that topic in a separate post, Community Ark of the Covenant.

Please forgive me for being skeptical, cynical, and now guarded, as seemingly even many church groups are forming and conducting themselves on the basis of being faith-based multilevel marketing schemes.  I’ve witnessed firsthand unconscionable predatory actions of presumably respected church members, truly wolves in sheeple clothing.  This problem will inevitably grow with an aging population.  This observance made me wonder why churches are not founded on the basis of more accountable ideals, such as cooperative ideals, which I’m quite familiar with for empowering people and community.  So, I initiated on a LinkedIn Group, “Cooperatives” the following discussion,  “Has anyone ever heard of a church or faith-based facility being owned and managed by a community cooperative endeavor? It would seem to be a logical way to organize something like that.”, http://www.linkedin.com/groups/Has-anyone-ever-heard-church-99154.S.101868449?trk=group_search_item_list-0-b-ttl&goback=%2Egna_99154 .  The resulting comments were of interest and basically substantiated the fact that no facility exists like that today that I’m currently aware of.

Wolves in sheeple clothing seem to be pervasive, in politics, in business, in your neighborhood and where you would least expect it, in religion.

Big Box Stores without Big Boxes

What big box stores do you want in your community?  Better yet, what specialty stores do you want in your community?   Your community demographics, that is, population, need not be an issue to address your needs and your community’s.  If you’re a remote Canadian community in the Yukon, wouldn’t it be nice to have a Cabelas close at hand to outfit your hunting and fishing needs?  If you’re a remote Arctic community wouldn’t it be nice to have a Canadian Superstore at hand to get groceries?  Wouldn’t it be nice to have a Sears store in the community to buy your apparel?  Wouldn’t it just be nice to have some of the conveniences that those in large urban markets have?

Sure you can order online now and pay substantial shipping costs if you are really remote; but there is a better way. 

Some of you might be familiar with CSAs, Community Supported Agriculture, and the concept of membership to receive fresh produce on a regular basis from local farms.  You might also be familiar with site-to-store programs from various retail big box stores where you order online and they ship it to your nearest store for you to go and pick up.  Several companies are already participating in this program of site to store:  Best Buy, Staples, and Walmart for example.  Order aggregation would be another way for big box stores to address another market opportunity, the rural and remote one.

So, why not a site to site program, that is, order products through an online community portal website to be delivered to a local community catalogue store site which may even serve as the local post office?  A little while ago, I wrote about the revirtualization of the country catalogue store where residents and businesses would be notified upon their purchase’s arrival to the local catalogue store via e-mail or perhaps through a local community smart phone application.  Shipping costs might be free for community development cooperative members.  A weekly consolidation of local grocery orders may be shipped once a week from a participating retailer which could substantially reduce food costs for very remote communities and may even be shipped directly to the local grocery store.  The community’s portal would have affiliate marketing agreements in place to accommodate the site to site program.  Non members and/or those ordering online from other sources might incur shipping costs or local service fees.

Your online community portal hosted locally in your community can be your gateway not just to lower costs through Big Box stores but to facilitate and promote local buying as well.  This service would greatly assist the community’s elderly and the disabled who may order online and then a local delivery service could deliver products.

Monetizing Broadband through Cooperacy

Monetize means to convert something to money and this can be achieved quite simply by selling something.  Another way might be to take a tool or service that you have and use it in different ways to create money perhaps by utilizing it in such a fashion as to save your money being spent on other purposes. 

What then are the best ways to monetize that broadband connection that you have or should have? How do you monetize that communications service that you pay for.  How does your community monetize its broadband network?  The obvious ways are to use the Internet not just for data but for voice, television, and security systems. What are some others?

I’m thinking that there has to be others that are offered either free or at very little cost.  There is of course VOIP services like Skype which you can use to stay in touch with friends and family.  You can get a VOIP service provider to give you virtually all the capabilities and features you have on your analogue phone.

I got to thinking about this as my son doesn’t watch television anymore, nor I, especially now, since we cancelled it.  He doesn’t use the phone which we still have, perhaps mostly for nostalgia, as he talks with his friends, actually conferences with several at a time, over the Internet, or uses his cell phone.

What is this future generation watching? I know Youtube is one, but I’m wondering what other free channels, that is, URLs, as well?  I’m surprised that there is not a new version of  TV Guide called Free TV Guide.  Television was initially free.  Remember all those TV antennae on the roofs of houses with rotators.  All you had to do was to buy a television and an antenna, a one time charge.  Now you have to pay monthly to watch advertisements.  Have we been duped?  Shouldn’t the advertisers be paying for our service?

Well, we can still listen to radio free of charge and even monetize our broadband further by being able to listen to radio stations in other cities and countries, thanks to Internet radio.

You have a smart phone but no cell coverage.  With a soft phone app on your smart phone you can communicate using WiFi on your smart phone to take even more advantage of your residential broadband Internet gateway while lowering your cellular usage costs.

For HAM operators we can even use the Internet to make connections throughout the world.

For rural and remote communities, distance learning has to be another way of monetizing that broadband connection. You no longer have to pay for  travel to get to class.  Anyone else with some thoughts on reducing your costs by monetizing your broadband connection and virtual vacations don’t count?

Just thought of another one, not so direct, but still appropriate, and that is selling all those items we possess that are no longer used through classified ads or bartering.

Basically these are personal and family ways to monetize that broadband connection.  Now, how many ways are there for a community to monetize their broadband?  Well, in order to even think about this the community really needs to own their network infrastructure, otherwise the monetization process benefits others.

Assuming then that your community owns their network, hopefully through a cooperative endeavor, cooperacy, and not local municipal government, some of the ways that this broadband network may be monetized are: local phone service; promote local buying through a community portal; local web hosting; community WiFi for tourists and visitors; local radio broadcasting; local video streaming for council meetings and event coverage; Big Box stores without big boxes through affiliate marketing; promote local trade; local coupons; local classified ads; surveillance; water monitoring; meter reading; precision farming; and local fund-raising online.

What Happen$ in the Community $tay$ in the Community!

Locality of Application Tsunami

Application Internet Exchanges (AIX) are inevitable and will be facilitated by what is called cloud computing data centers which will transition and evolve accordingly.  Consequently community broadband application cooperatives are bound to happen.

We have tiered access to the Internet where we have providers that provide us with personal, home, and business access to the Internet.  Correspondingly, we have a second tier of providers providing services to the aforementioned tier one providers.  A similar tiered network will occur involving software applications and to some extent this has already occurred.  Some companies have unwittingly blundered into the opportunity; but the total market potential of locality of application has not been recognized as yet.

My personal experience with community broadband surveys is that most of the communications stays within the community.  You just have to look at the demand for local news.  If the only alternative for access to applications goes outside of the community anyone can readily and blatantly postulate and theorize that the growing trend will be outside of the community.

Data communications and telecommunications are going through a technological merger.  Data communication companies have been considerably more adept through this evolution and at making the transition because for the most part they have controlled the content and haven’t been burdened by legacy systems and introverted thinking.  Content, like software applications, vertical or horizontal, will prevail and drive connectivity.

Low-cost bandwidth will come about through competition at all levels: community, county, region, state and country.  The cost of technology is such that local community empowerment, local sustainability, and local self reliance is quite achievable and makes better use of local resources in more ways than one.

Demand by its very definition is neither static nor stationary as it invokes responsive change.  The benefits of locality of reference will always disappear when there is no local alternative; but inevitably market forces will prevail.  We have been and are being technologically bullied and like sheeple most of us just blindly follow the herd.

The premise for this blog is based on my personal education, experience, expertise, and observations.  This of course leads to my theorizing that locality of application, insourcing, distributed processing, tiered cloud-in-a-box technology, and whatever technological tools and methodology to empower communities locally will always outweigh the alternatives.

What is really needed is application peering in a distributed fashion down to the community level.   This is more of an evolution based on demand.  With respect to telecommunications, originally private branch exchanges were switch boards manned by operators who were then replaced by electromechanical switches and those subsequently replaced by digital PBX technology which has evolved to IP PBXs and virtual IP PBXs.  Distributed technology and processing when economically viable, and in most cases it is, will always take precedence unless outside factors, like legislation, dictates otherwise.

Another example of locality is the mainframe which has evolved to a new role.  The mainframe’s “general” commercial usage was usurped by the personal computer and servers.  When you aggregate the number of PCs and servers, and support costs in large companies and government to displace the mainframe, this was not a lower cost displacement but a local empowerment one for users, organizations, and corporations selling the technology.  We’re going through another version of locality of empowerment with BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) where people insist on using their own personal devices in their workplace.

For every outsourced solution there should be an insourced solution where it can economically fit.  In other words, there should be community non-hosted solutions for relevant hosted solutions.  We personally don’t use hosted solutions ourselves if we can’t have a non-hosted version of it.

Taking the concept of insourcing and outsourcing a little further, backup and recovery  is another great example of locality of application.  Technology exists today to backup your personal computer and your business server both from a non-hosted perspective and a hosted perspective.  Novastor, http://www.novastor.com and several other companies have software which can be installed on your local computers and backup your critical data to external devices locally.  You can then go store the device in your bank’s safety deposit box if you want.  This is your first level of backup and recovery.  Most ISPs and WISPs offer local backup and recovery to some extent in your communities.  They in turn may back-up and even grandfather-father-son your data to colocation and cloud computing centers outside of the community.

There is a myriad of applications like accounting, social media networking, online games, CRM, CMS, etc. that can be similarly recognized and treated as both local and remote, hosted and non-hosted, outsourced and insourced versions.  There is a huge market opportunity awaiting the right buzzwords to entice the sheeple.

Smart phone technology is another good indicator of this next enormous wave coming in technology.  As I mentioned earlier the myriad of applications will inevitably include smart phone apps becoming more localized.  After reading such books as “Android Apps for Absolute Beginners” there is no reason that applications and their corresponding smart phone apps like OpenTable, Uber, Zillow, Yelp, DemandForce, GrubHub, 1stdibs, and Peixe Urbano could not be readily replicated locally to the benefit of the community.  Again, there is a huge market opportunity not only awaiting the right marketing buzzwords, but local entrepreneurs with a little geeky savvy.

The new reality, that is, centalization, is merely a transitional stepping stone brought on by a mere local absence through lack of foresight and hindsight which like a void will be filled.  Its inevitable, as it is human nature to seek local empowerment.  Those companies not addressing both centralized and corresponding distributed versions of their software and sell accordingly will inevitably fail to those who do.

Let me try to be more succinct about the consequences of not having locality of application.  Let us say we live in a rural community whose backhaul, that is, access to the Internet goes down, perhaps because of disaster, or more likely because someone has inadvertently dug up the fiber.  The community no longer has access to all those centralized applications like social media networking, or heaven forbid, applications which utilize public safety, like amber alerts.

The “scale of information flow and velocity” will inevitably be distribution first, centralization second, and that has already been realized but ignored for the time being.

Let’s take even another example, video conferencing.  Video conferencing applications exist today, which are free by the way, to run on community servers.  The expertise to create such an app has in all likelihood been done virtually perhaps by some geek who farms part time and not necessarily by some geek in a 30th floor apartment.  So, you want a video image of yourself, perhaps even that Darth Vader holographic image of yourself, presenting in a virtual board room.  Let’s call this application, VY, for Virtually Yours, and it is a centralized application developed locally by that same geek, and now your image needs to be constantly transported across a terabyte data stream to a board room in a distant community.  Would it not make more sense to have VY in each community so that only your virtual image criteria is transmtted and not consuming vast amounts of bandwidth while doing your virtual presentation, along with holographic images of those board members who actually reside and work in that community?

Let’s take even a more practical and more immediate application, a final example, like classifed ads. Would it not make more sense to have a classifed ad application resident on a local community server where most of these kinds of transactions are made?  Now assume this application, a micro application, is resident on communities all around the world.  Your micro application can then become a macro application to do searches, not just on a community level but a regional level, a state level, and a country level, so that you can find your Darth Vader mask that you lost while on a world wide vacation with Chubaka.  In other words, look for a distributed version of Craigslist, and eventually VY, that can become a macro version through an AIX.

Cloud computing has merely made this perspective foggy, not cloudy and only Application Internet Exchanges will be able to facilitate the cloud dispersion and locality of application.

Like the universe, constant expansion of empowerment is inevitable, unless it is taken away.  Now, where and when will the earthquake happen that will precipitate this tsunami and will some type of fracturing cause it?

What Happen$ in the Community $tay$ in the Community!

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