Joining up the dots: platform co-operatives and content networks.

A joint session on both platform co-operative and joining together the unconference networks.


An Open Data Platform Co-operative?

What is a platform co-operative?

Well, it’s similar to a workers’ or housing co-op – a “one person, one vote” organising system for communal ownership for digital platforms. So rather than a platform like Uber or AirBnB being run for commercial gain, they’re run for the benefit of the users. Stocksy, a platform for selling photography, is one example.

Is a platform co-op? No. It’s a platform, but not a co-op.

To sustain a platform co-op you need a common interest. It could be that open data is too broad a subject to make it work – do we need to focus down on a niche?

Better together

Could the co-op maintain standards? Would an open data community actually end up voting for PDF as a standard? Hopefully not, but that’s the risk of a democratic structure. The main thrust of the co-op would be to make sure the combination of value and features kept the platform competitive with commercial offerings. But it does open up the possibility of pooling resources to create something much better than any one person or organisation could do. The value isn’t just the platform – but the people building it.

There’s bound to be some lessons we could take from the open source community. Or is there? There can be a pseudo-dictatorial structure around some open source projects.

Over the last year or so, there have been more local authorities using open data platforms. Now, they’re going to be wedded to their platforms – but there is scope for something to co-ordinated between these platforms?

There’s clearly a lot of interest in the idea – the discussions will continue post-Open Data Camp

Linking up the unconference network

There’s a whole bunch of unconferences around local government, public services and open data. There’s an amount of content built up around the event – a little before, a lot during, and a little afterwards. Is there a role for a special interest wiki to bring all the information together from these events? Can we bring that data together?

We’re not proposing a calendar, but a form a knowledge sharing, perhaps with a schema to standardise the information. A rich graph of information, if you like. Can you do some automation around searching Twitter for the hashtag, some basic cleaning, and then publishing into the wiki? Almost certainly.

Why? It allows you get the sense of topics, people and how those change over time. A single point, sure. Should it be curated or more of a searchable database?

Is this addresses by HTML 5 and the semantic web? Yes, in theory.That’s the way it should be done, but it generally isn’t. People aren’t good at it. Would it be better to use conference management software? Probably not – it’s more about capturing the knowledge generated.

We need to build up a folksonomy around this.

The Open Data Camp website is a good example – can we take those principles and spread them to other events, and then link them up.

Perhaps there’s two distinct tasks here:

  • Creating a hub to link between event sites
  • A social effort to build a network around the hub, as well as tools like the semantic web and HTML5

Session Notes