It is 2021. We are living in the time of a global pandemic, a climate emergency, a time when the veil has dropped on misogyny, where decolonisation has begun and racial justice is being called for. Equity. Inclusion. Love.Wisdom. Collaboration. Community. Trust. We need care before code. We also know the future of work is going to be local including working from home to a global market.

Automation, remote working and the knowledge economy are here and expanding. This is disproportionately impacting on women, First nations, people of colour, LGBTIQ+ and people with disabilities. The platforms being used to buy and sell are predominantly not owned and operated by these groups of people. This is increasing the economic and social divide. If we want a more just and equitable world we are going to need to build accessible, socially and economically just platforms. We need democratic and ethical templates to build disruptive technologies actually focused on real disruption and social change. It is not enough to tweak the platforms we have.

Can you imagine instead of outsourcing our futures to automated systems that are limited to market solutions, we envision a new social ecologically oriented online community that reinforces its productive energies and creativity, toward restorative and resilient ends?

We can Imagine it, So Can We Build it?

We come to this problem with a beginners mind, and a willingness to disrupt our own thinking, to invite beginners luck, to take chances and use our imagination as a tool to unlock and unleash ideas. We come to the task clear about what is negotiable and non-negotiable. There are beautiful constraints in this hackathon, just as there are in all our lives.

These are the constraints that will make our hack beautiful. What we make will be transformational and:

  • disrupt patriarchy
  • be a co-op
  • reflect feminist principles
  • competitive pricing with other platforms like Patreon, SubStack
  • make money for its members
  • have an attitude of abundance

Problem as We Know it

As William Gibson (scifi writer) put it: “The future is already here – it’s just not evenly distributed.” For instance in the bitcoin community is 91% men and 96% of Ethereum users are male. Blockchain definitely promises the potential for more equity in distribution, but this is yet to be realised. How might collaborative, inclusive processes create a prosperous future for people, planet and future generations?

Existing platforms for creatives like Patreon take a % in fees and the fintech platforms take another fee before the producer of the content or service can have their share. It is an extractive model.

Patriarchy is competitive, hierarchical, where masculinity is normative and there is a bias towards male dominance and control. These features are reflected in the business model, design, algorithms, communications and marketing in platforms. Scale is always understood as hypergrowth upwards, rather than deeper or wider. Patriarchy is killing men too – they are dying earlier than women, have worse mental health and higher suicide rates – imagine a world with happier and healthier men.

The problem as we see it is we need to #femthefuture. This means creating generative, distributive, inclusive and equitable ways to participate in the online economy. We thought starting with a platform to enable this kind of exchange to take place was as good as any place to start.

Our question is: What could a cooperative equitable online platform (like Patreon and let’s call it Matreon for now) that will disrupt patriarchy, look and feel like?

That is what we are going to be hacking at our first #femthefuture hackathon over the last weekend in June. Four teams have volunteered to think this through, with the constraints, with imagination, with joy, generosity and tenacity. You can follow their progress over the weekend on our socials. As Janelle Monae says #femthefuture! Join the movement!