Getting even more specific about a platform co-op for translators

I want our translator co-op want to sell ebooks, and likely we will, but what I want even more is to see our translations on paper. And, of course, my preference is to work with worker-owned and operated publishers, or at the very least, small, independent publishers. The idea of print-on-demand might make sense for an author with one or two books, but I see our platform co-op doing lots of books.

I’ve had an idea about how to work with publishers, and I have yet to find any examples of anyone doing it. It’s hard to say if it’s been tried and failed, or if it’s never been tried. Continue reading “Getting even more specific about a platform co-op for translators”

The Communitarian Manifesto, part 2

Scale and scope

The optimum scale is most efficient dimension of the productive units of a society, the size as of which inefficiencies created by having to manage the excessive size of those units exceeds the benefit produced by being a little bigger. For each dimension of the market and each technological level, there exists an optimal scale of production, and it turns out to be easy to understand that, in principle, technological development reduces the optimal dimensions, because the better the technology, the fewer resources—work hours, capital and raw material—are needed to produce the same quantity of products. Continue reading “The Communitarian Manifesto, part 2”

The Communitarian Manifesto, part 1

The dilemma of our time

Abundance within reach

Never before in History of humanity have technical capacities been as potent and accessible to common people as today. The massive development of the Internet through the ’90s profoundly changed ways of socializing, sharing, and working. Wealth was created in places that were socially and geographically peripheral by the hands of millions of small producers that, for the first time, could effectively access other markets and knowledge. In Asia alone, we saw hundreds of millions of people escape misery, more than in the rest of the history of humanity. Continue reading “The Communitarian Manifesto, part 1”

Getting specific about a platform cooperative for translators

The specifics of a platform co-op for translators are starting to come together in my head.

First, it should focus on large projects, and in particular, books. This is where there is money to be made—potentially—and this is also where translators’ professionalism can shine (as opposed to, say, birth certificates). There are extensive possibilities with works in the public domain or under a Creative Commons license. There are also authors awaiting translation into English (or from English into other languages). We would not be exclusive to a particular genre or topic. Continue reading “Getting specific about a platform cooperative for translators”

Vision for a translators’ platform co-op

Translators, like interpreters, are generally not treated like the professionals that we are. We’ve been part of the “gig economy” since long before the term was invented, back when it was just called “freelancing.”

Our clients tend to be very small-scale non-profits and social-justice organizations that operate on a shoestring budget, or else very large, well-heeled corporate marketing departments scouring the globe for new target markets. We get to pick between being appreciated but not paid much or being paid but not appreciated much. Continue reading “Vision for a translators’ platform co-op”

Are reputation scores worth using?

Reputation scores are a big deal… or at least can be. If you buy stuff on Amazon or other online marketplaces, you pay attention to reputation scores. Given the choice, you gravitate towards sellers with higher reputation scores. It’s not a complicated formula: the more consistently other people have reported a good experience with that seller, the more you can expect a good experience. Instinctively, you know it’s both subjective and simplistic to reduce “reputation” to a number. But you can deal with this, because you know no other system is going to do any better. Continue reading “Are reputation scores worth using?”

What’s this blockchain thing?

This will not be a technical explanation of the blockchain. There are many people better qualified than to do that. Like, way better qualified. Set aside an afternoon and Google it. I will also not be encouraging you to get involved in cryptocurrencies. Mind you, I’m not discouraging you, either–this post simply isn’t about that. Instead, I’ll look at the practical reasons a platform co-op might at least take a look at using the blockchain. Continue reading “What’s this blockchain thing?”

Membership, part 1

The membership of a platform co-op is an interesting question. On the one hand, it seems like barriers to entry should be quite low, because that’s democratic and open, which is a cooperative value. On the other hand, barriers to entry should be pretty high, because we’re talking about a workplace, and it’s in every worker’s interest for all the other workers to be capable of high-quality work. Continue reading “Membership, part 1”