[platform-coop-dev-kit] Background research on directories

Danny Spitzberg stationaery at gmail.com
Wed Oct 30 12:14:25 UTC 2019

Hi, Cheryl and Ned!

We talked the other week about sharing background info- you mentioned
having a doc, and I mentioned what I’d learned from Nathan. But then I
decided to email him about the IoO directory via email- see below. He gave
me permission to share this Q&A with you. Note that Nathan will be at the
Nov. 7 session, too :)



> 1) What was the original opportunity you saw in creating the IoO

In organizing the first conference [#platformcoop 2015], I found myself
talking to a bunch of projects and startups and needed to keep them
straight. And I wanted to do so in public so that I wouldn't be hoarding
the wonderful knowledge of this new ecosystem forming, and so others could

> 2) In its current state, how does it serve you personally? What
parts help you save time, and what parts slow you down or feel like a waste?

I use it less than I used to, personally, just because my work has moved on
from shepherding the whole ecosystem to focusing on particular projects
that I find to be strategic and congenial.

> 3) What *other* indexing efforts exist? I’m not just talking about
> directories- I’m talking about any broad efforts to make sense of the
> “cooperative digital economy.”

There have of course been some reports and other such publications. I've
tried to collect the major ones at the ioo.coop/library.

> 3b) Praytell, how do you define the “cooperative digital economy”?
> I’ve been loosely describing it as, all of the coordinated activity
> online to create and use value in all forms- products, services, data,
> and even memes.

I haven't really used that term. But I think what Trebor means, and what I
sought to include in the directory, was the web of platform co-ops,
platforms with family resemblances to co-ops, and the organizations that
support them—particularly those projects that identify as being part of the
#platformcoop thing.

> 4) When folks reach to you for help getting value out of the index,
> what have you found actually helps them? Can you please elaborate, as
> if you were a reference librarian?

People haven't really asked for help so much. Most of the interactions I
get are when people submit projects to the directory, which has all but
ground to a standstill.

> 5) Saving best for last...
Oh boy.

> 5a) Do you believe that the IoO spokescouncil can hold space for the
> #platformcoop community to build relationships with accountability and
> reciprocity between people and projects?

Sure, if people want it. I haven't been sure that they do, and I've treated
it as more of a "pull" project than a "push" one—if there's demand, I try
to support it, but I don't want to force it into existence or growth. I do
think there is value in modeling our cooperative
practices in some of how we build our ecosystem, and the IoO PC is
committed to operating cooperatively.

> 5b) Would you like the spokescouncil to grow with more members?

Sure! That'd be fun, if they're good folks. Again, though, I only want it
to grow if people want to join it.

> 5c) Would you like to see relationships between it and the IDRC folks
> designing and developing the index?

Sure, if they would find it useful. I would love to see a lively,
democratic body operating our shared resources. But that kind of thing
takes energy, and perhaps that energy would be better spent developing
democracy for stuff like startup accelerators and co-ops for returning
citizens and destroying coal plants; maybe it's okay that the directory
function is responsibly centralized.

Concluding reflection:

Co-op people, I've found, can make a fetish out of self-documentation and
directories. datacommons.coop, letsgo.coop, domains.coop, coloradocoops.info
(also mine) etc.etc.—the *.coop universe is littered with directories that
nobody uses. I'm sort of guilty of that, though honestly I built ioo.coop
with no salvific ambitions other than to just share the knowledge I was
gathering. I don't mind if it outlives its usefulness. Directories like
this are useful from a movement-building perspective, as it helps
participants find each other. But we should take care to ensure that we
don't expect more from directory-making than it is capable of—and not let
it distract us from other sorts of work.

As far as usable data, I'm most enthralled with projects like Brent Hueth's
successful effort to get a co-op question on the US economic census. In the
long run, the data we get from that will have impact that our more
insider-facing, movement-building directories aren't remotely capable of.
Both types are important, but we should be clear-eyed about what we are and
are not doing.
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