November 9 2023 GM
Glitter Meetup is the weekly town hall of the Internet Freedom community at the IF Square on the TCU Mattermost, at 9am EDT / 1pm UTC. It is a text-based chat where digital rights defenders can share regional and projects updates, expertise, ask questions, and connect with others from all over the world! Do you need an invite? Learn how to get one here.
- Date: Thursday, November 9
- Time: 9am EST / 2pm UTC
- Who: Nicolas Dimarco & Martín Vallone
- Moderator: Ursula
- Where: On TCU Mattermost "IF Square" Channel.
- Don't have an account to the TCU Mattermost? you can request one following the directions here.
Building Trans-national Cooperatives to Advance Public Interest Technologies
Fiqus is a horizontal and democratic cooperative company that develops technology locally and globally. Shortly after founding Fiqus, they founded a local network together with other cooperatives and for the last four years they have been building a global community together with companies that share our values. They will tell us about their journey, what they are doing now in their co-op, what they have learned and what they seek to achieve with the networks they are building
- Nicolas Dimarco is one of the founding members of Fiqus, a software development cooperative located in Argentina. He started as a developer in a software consulting firm at the age of 18, and after working on several projects, at the age of 25 he realized that he needed something different out of life. That is how, after working as a freelancer for a year, he got together with some colleagues and friends from the university and founded the company. Passionate about cooperative entrepreneurship, production processes and human relations, Nicolas dedicated his daily work to contributing towards the development and promotion of Fiqus, to the management of projects and work teams and to the development and support of collaborative networks.
- Martín Vallone: He has been in the IT industry since the age of 17, working in various companies on diverse projects. His journey led him to eventually become a part of Fiqus, a software development cooperative located in Argentina. Within Fiqus, he’s taken on different roles, including full-stack development, mobile, and backend, while assuming key responsibilities within the teams he’s been a part of. Currently, my focus is on data and AI projects, but my inherent curiosity drives me to learn whatever it takes when I'm captivated by a new challenge. He is passionate about acquiring new tools and knowledge to achieve their goals and takes pleasure in building solutions backed by cooperative values that have a positive impact on our surroundings. For him, life is made easier and more fulfilling through collaboration and collective building.
Please could you introduce yourself and your organizations?
- Martin: I'm Martin Vallone part of Fiqus since 2013, I'm a (mostly) backend and data engineer but I've been in many different IT projects that forged me.
- Fiqus is a Software Cooperative from Argentina, we are 13 people distributed along the country (Buenos Aires, Villa La Angostura, San Luis, Puerto Madryn, Mar del Plata). It was created 12 years ago and we consider ourselves as a boutique software factory, specialized in functional programming (Elixir, Erlang, Rust) and big data (Python, Go, Pandas, Spark).
- Nicolas: I started as a software developer when I was 18 years old, working in a traditional software company. A few years later, I became a freelancer and then we got together with other freelancers and founded a software development cooperative (Fiqus). I have not been working as a software developer for five years now, but as a business developer and as a project manager. I am passionate about nature, in fact I moved to the mountains where there are lakes and forests, I love collective construction and collaboration between organizations. I enjoy working on projects with social impact.
- Our organization is part of a local network of tech worker co-ops called FACTTIC and a global community of tech co-ops called Patio. We will tell you more about those organizations later today
What was the problem or need that inspired your work on building a local and then a global network of technology builders?
- First we could start with FACTTIC, which is the local network of technology cooperatives, and then go on to tell you how and why we wanted to scale this network to a global level.
- The idea of creating FACTTIC came to us because we wanted to share projects, problems and their solutions, as well as experiences to make our development as cooperatives easier.
- We also think about the need to create or be part of policies at the national level, which being a federation can make it easier to be heard. Today we are around 45 cooperatives throughout the Argentine territory.
- One of the facts that most stimulated our network was the opportunity to share work in order to scale our development capabilities, avoiding competition and developing cooperation through solidarity mechanisms.
- We currently have many internal areas within the local network, among them we can mention a space where we follow up on shared job opportunities, a feminist space transversal to all other spaces, a space to create strategies for linking with external organizations and a space for internal organization and cooperative culture.
- And regarding PATIO, we wanted to get in contact with other tech worker co-ops in other parts of the world, we started getting in touch with them and we created a community after a few years. The main goals of creating that global network were: to share cultures, to share local realities, to think about joint strategies to get new projects and to organize travels to visit other co-ops. We are developing something called "Co-op & Travel": you can travel to a country and be hosted there by a local co-op, for example.
Could you mention some milestones in your cooperative's development journey and why they are important?
- Being able to generate financial support (a couple of months of all our expenses in the bank) allowed us to choose the projects that align with our values, and reject those that do not
- Achieving projects with a good price per hour, allowed us to take on projects that perhaps did not pay as well but allowed us to contribute to the cooperative or our community
- Networking was something very important in order to be able to work on large projects in which by teaming up with other cooperatives we learned other ways and grew both personally and professionally.
- By teaming up with other cooperatives we can develop our own products that are difficult for our cooperatives to finance. Generally these are projects with social impact such as the following: IA2, Coobs, Coop Cycle o Coop Hub.
- We believe in the development of free software solutions because it is the way to build solutions that are open to the community, transparent and that take care of the privacy of people's data.
What are your visions for additional cool projects for the present and future?
- For the present and future, we have to keep in mind that our data is being used by many applications and websites.
- We have to assume the responsibility of looking after them given our experience and knowledge in the area.
- It is necessary to connect between organizations and companies with the same values in order to minimize the risk of exposure and exploitation of our data, to achieve responsible and appropriate use of our information.
Could you tell us how the community could support your project or join it?
- We need to continue grouping with other organizations that share our vision of technological sovereignty, inclusive, open and with values, in order to generate funding that will allow us to build our own solutions instead of continuing to consume technology that exploits our data and does not respect our privacy.
- So, if you are a technology worker cooperative, we invite you to join PATIO and if you are a global or local organization that shares our vision and values, let's get together to talk and think about concrete next steps to continue building alternatives
How to contact Nicolas and Martin:
- Patio website: https://patio.coop/