Conceived back when the there’s an app for that chorus heralded a future where our iDevices would solve every conceivable problem, I imagined dotcomrades as a community who might step in to take on a set of issues that appeared to be in Cupertino’s/the Valley’s/the wider tech world’s blindspot.

Where was the app for collective bargaining or to help an employee map where they might find allies and support for organising in their workplace?

Order a pizza, add a lens flare to your photos, take your pick from countless fart soundboards by all means. Find and express solidarity with likeminded colleagues? fuhgeddaboudit

To my shame, years passed without me doing much about it but working among the communities that have formed and swarmed, around and between things like bbc backstage, mySociety, Rewired State, Mozilla, and Democracy Club to name but a few, I kept tripping over people who were keen to get involved. These were “folks who you want to be in a crew with”.

Last Friday was an excuse to gather and think about this stuff. To unload about possibly the most depressing email I’ve ever been sent…

…and to bring together interested parties, forge links between existing efforts and start to build new things.

We have a mass of etherpads to wade through and documentation to chase. We have an outpost in Dublin pulled together in short order by Julian Fitzsimons. We have momentum to sustain and build on, most likely through monthly meetups in London to begin with (follow @dotcomrades for updates).

We have the beginnings of a community from which interesting things could spring.

While working at Mozilla a while back, I used to host mySociety’s weekly meetup. Tom Steinberg and I got talking one evening or other about who was out there creating the conditions for the next mySociety or Mozilla?

My hope is that dotcomrades might sprinkle a few ingredients into a primordial soup from which a force to reboot, revive or “disrupt” the labour movement might emerge.

A labour movement that learns from open source practice and benefits from the organisational, decentralising and distributive capabilities of the web.

A labour movement which proudly puts community and solidarity firmly back at the heart of its offer.

Let me know if you’d like to help.

Fraternally yours, @bevangelist ;-)

I have dotcomrades to thank…

Thank you to James Richards for the prod to actually organise something and to Harry Robbins for shouldering much of the work ahead of and on the day.

Thank you to each and every one of the hundred or so people who expressed an interest in getting involved in this first experiment. I spoke to many of you ahead of the event and those conversations as well as your silent etherpadding helped encourage and shape things for 50–60 attendees across the day.

Thank you to all the attendees. It was especially heartening to see a number of representatives from Unite, Unison, Bectu and the TUC in attendance. I’d always known there would be union staff who understood and cared about this stuff but had not come across any in the wild. We obviously just needed to lay the right trap! It was great to have long established
unions in the same room as organisations like Workers Wild West.

Thank you to Adam and Trisha at Mozilla London for letting us take over the community space at MozLDN.

Thank you to our dotcomrades in Dublin who picked up the baton the day after we had wrapped in London.

Thank you for reading.

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