Wikipedia defines economic violence as:

… a type of violence committed by individuals or groups preying on the economically disadvantaged individuals. In some circumstances the individuals may be service workers such as undocumented workers and food service workers, in others they may be spouses, or closeted gays. The World Health Organization defines it as being a form of collective violence, committed by larger groups towards individuals.

Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic and its resultant economic crisis there has, thankfully, been many a spotlight shone upon economic violence. Levels of domestic and gender-based violence have escalated while mental health indicators suggest some alarming trends. As national debts balloon, poverty is on the increase across the planet. Supply chains have been interrupted and structural change to resource distribution may be permanent – with potentially both positive and negative outcomes.

Technology can be an economic leveler. As open-source actors, we must play our role, delivering both open and standards-based code as high quality products. The Corteza project aims to inhabit such a role permanently, producing enterprise-grade and standards-oriented products for free consumption by organisations of all types. With some success already behind the project there is, however, much scope for growth.

High quality engineering without high quality product creates, not removes economic barriers. Many of the organisations that fight against economic violence do not have the resources to afford technology at scale, not to mention to overcome complexity. A better Corteza will help fill this gap. And by better, we’re not just talking about feature sets, but also about simplifying deployment mechanisms and making Corteza available on more platforms.

More work can and will also be done to make Corteza increasingly relevant to different aspects of society, both industrial and civil. It’s important that Corteza be immediately salient to an organisation, whichever the category of work or endeavour.

One of Corteza’s strengths is that a user can self-host the platform or host on a private or public cloud of their choice. However, we can and will improve upon Corteza’s data sharing capabilities while protecting the data sovereignty of any given organisation. We will also improve the data control protections and mechanisms available. Abuse of data is far too common and it too contributes to economic violence and erosion of human rights to privacy and self-determination.

Accessibility is often an afterthought for software projects. In Corteza, it must and will be a priority. As the Digital Work Platform for Humanity, all users must come first, not just a subset. Our goal is to be 100% WCAG 2.0 in 2021.

Education is key too. Corteza must be made as easy as possible for the uninitiated and lower skill users, while frictionless learning of more advanced users should grow. All documentation is already published, but it will be made richer, deeper and even simpler to understand. A free-of-access video vault will be made available to all users and administrators alike, ensuring that user independence becomes a reality and not just a goal. Technology is only an economic leveler when it reduces barriers to access permanently.

Joining the dots that underpin an economy and which can encourage its positive and inclusive change is difficult. Starting with the data, Corteza can help organisations work according to standardised methods and practices, protect their valuable information and collaborate in a modern, consistent manner. Whether you work in a giant government administration, a not-for-profit organisation or a private enterprise of any size on any continent, Corteza can and will continue to deliver great value. It will always continue to be free from intellectual property concerns, will always be standards-oriented where possible and will not push any agenda other than the delivery of great products in the public interest. There are solutions to problems of economic violence and software will inevitably be involved to support them – Corteza can play and should play an important role.

The Corteza project celebrated its first birthday this month. Its products are open source, freely available and high quality. They are and will always will be developed in the public interest. For more information please see our website or join us for further discussion on the Corteza community server.

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