During the #COVID19 pandemic the need for an ethical and practical videoconferencing service has become urgent for many. Many of us use Jitsi and it is a great tool for group meetings, if you dedicate a powerful enough server and time to tweak it. However for courses or collaborative sessions with larger groups there is a more appropriate, free software, tool. BigBlueButton offers better audio and co-working environment with practical features.
At femProcomuns we have been following this tool with interest. Running it requires a powerful, preferably dedicated server and there are a few elements to be tweaked and integrated, it is not a cheap solution that a small organisation can afford by itself. When Collective.tools suggested to share a BBB server, we got the ball rolling and invited some more friends. This led to creating Meet.coop – a cooperative platform called The Online Meeting Cooperative by three cooperatives Collective.tools, femProcomuns.coop and Webarchitects, other organisations are now joining either as co-producers or as consumer members. Organisations interested to join are asked to become members of one of the three producer coops and make a contribution of, at least 500€ for the first year.
Pooling money, time and server resources, we are building a video meeting platform, complemented by an integrated Moodle service for online courses that links directly to real-time video meetings at our shared BigBlueButton server. At femProcomuns we already have the CommonsCloud cooperative cloud service with a one single account per user that allows to login at the various services. We foresee to allow CommonsCloud users to login with their existing accounts to the shared video service.
Individual users are encouraged to make voluntary contributions (donations) for strengthening the shared service. These contributions to the collective shall be made through either one of the producer cooperatives.
The collective works on making Ansible deployment scripts available and document its methodologies and experiences to maximize knowledge sharing within the membership and in the open for all to replicate. Organisations interested in a dedicated instance can contract specialised support.
For femProcomuns and the other partners, this collaboration has three key objectives: 1) make use of a shared video meeting platform for online meetings, courses and conferences, 2) establish and grow an international network of cooperatives working against surveillance capitalism and developing free software based cloud services; 3) explore additional services that can be developed collectively through Meet.coop, or other new joint ventures.
The platform expects to launch in beta in June 2020. Focus is on the Commons and Social and Solidarity Economy.