What were your main objectives during this reporting period?
- Co-design with partner cooperatives
- Refine and implement the Resource Library (previously known as the Learning Commons)
- Design prototypes for the Cooperative Map/Index
- Identify common needs, resources, and tools for the Labour Platform hub
- Ongoing updates to the platform.coop website
Co-Design with Cooperatives
Throughout the project, we have been working closely with our partner cooperatives to determine the scope and priorities of all aspects of the Kit. During this reporting period, we organized a large collaborative co-design event, and continued to work one-on-one with three partner organizations (CoRise, SEWA, and Cataki) while also bringing two new cooperatives (Equal Care and Suara) into the project to help with co-design. A significant focus has been to mentor and train members of these cooperatives to organize and facilitate their own internal co-design workshops, including synthesizing the outcomes in ways that will best complement the insights and priorities of the other participating cooperatives.
Using the supports and activity templates we provided, Suara held a co-design workshop with their members in November 2019. SEWA also held a second co-design session in early December 2019 with a dozen members of their home care cooperative. Among other things, they identified a need for several platform features that would help support better internal communication amongst members, worker safety, and promotion and recruitment within the cooperative. As a collaborative method, co-design worked well for SEWA and they are planning to hold more follow-up sessions with members.
During the platform cooperative global conference in November, we organized and co-facilitated a cooperative co-design "potluck" with members of the CoRise, Equal Care, SEWA, and CoLab cooperatives. Over 20 participants, all current or prospective cooperative members, attended the event. The goal was to identify and explore the shared needs amongst cooperatives for platform technology tools that could better support them in communicating, sharing knowledge, governing, and promoting the movement. The potluck approach allowed us to focus on tangible, mutually beneficial design opportunities, and to identify resources and skills that we can pool to better support the implementation of these tools. A summary of the event and its outcomes and next steps has been posted to the platform.coop blog.
During this period, the IDRC’s primary design and development focus was on the Resource Library, a tool that provides a broad collection of articles, videos, books, and scholarly resources that will help support people who want to start, convert to, or research platform cooperatives. We designed the Resource Library in collaboration with a number of contributors from the platform cooperative community, with whom we held regular conversations and brainstorming sessions to develop the tool’s feature set, information architecture, and a taxonomy for categorizing and tagging resources. The challenge has been to design a tool that will be approachable by people with very different goals—from researchers to activists to cooperative organizers.
The back-end user interface for the Resource Library, which allows contributors to post, tag, and annotate resources, was recently released. Nearly 1000 resources have been added to the site's database so far. The user-facing view is in the late stages of development and testing, and we anticipate it will be released to the public in February 2020. The Resource Library has been developed as open source software available on our project's Github organization using the WordPress framework. As a by-product of implementing this tool, we have also created an evolving pattern library of accessible, reusable web user interface components, called Pinecone, which will help support the development of other web applications in the Kit, such as the Map/Index tool and the Labour Platform Hub.
We have recently started to design and develop a directory, map, and index of the cooperative digital economy, which will provide researchers, cooperatives, and activities with location-based, contextually-appropriate information about the platform cooperative movement, sourced directly from the community. During this period, we held a series of informal co-design discussions with the community to determine needs and challenges for the Directory. One insight we learned from this was that many community members are interested in using a tool like this to better support cross-cooperative networking and mutual support. In addition to gathering an initial set of goals and features for the Directory, we researched prospective open source technologies for building geospatial user interfaces, and recruited an experienced web cartography developer to join our team. We anticipate a first launch of the Directory in Spring 2020.