Mon 18 Oct 2021 10:11AM

Proposal: that the Platform 6 Development Fund supports the first stage in the development of interactive online tools for co-operative development

AC Austen Cordasco Public Seen by 95

The attached proposal for funding support has been submitted to, considered and passed by P6 Mission Circle and is now presented here for consideration by the P6 Community. Please raise any issues that you may have with it, requests for clarity, suggestions for improvement etc. The proposal may be modified or withdrawn as a result of our discussion. Assuming that it isn't laughed out of court, once all issues are resolved it will then go to the P6 Members Group, which is a subset of this group, for approval by vote, as per the P6 procedure for dealing with such applications.


Sion Whellens (Principle Six/Calverts) Mon 18 Oct 2021 10:17AM

I'll vote for this. I still use and refer to CAN's development needs analysis spreadsheets, sometimes sharing them with groups if I think they can cope with it, so a developed and interactive tool will be a worthwhile thing.


Mark Simmonds (Co-op Culture) Mon 18 Oct 2021 10:54AM

Just to clarify that this was a formal proposal for funding received by P6. In line with our protocol for dealing with funding proposals, once the Mission Circle was happy it met our funding criteria, we passed it on to this forum for discussion/decision. I just didn't want people to take away the idea that any such proposal had to have the permission of the Mission Circle before you could start a discussion.


Mark Simmonds (Co-op Culture) Mon 18 Oct 2021 10:55AM

Further clarification the Mission Circle have not passed this proposal (that's your job). We have just passed it on.


Mark Simmonds (Co-op Culture) Mon 18 Oct 2021 10:57AM

On the proposal itself. The critical issues for me, before deciding, are:

1) Who owns the IP? I would rather that anything P6 funded be open source.

2) Who is responsible for the data collected? - issues around GDPR.

Can someone linked to the proposal pick up these points.


Austen Cordasco Mon 18 Oct 2021 11:55AM

Thanks, Mark. Issues around IP rights and data protection have not been fully expounded in the proposal and I will take this back to the team.


Austen Cordasco Tue 26 Oct 2021 10:21AM

Does v11 address your concerns?

Item removed


Mark Simmonds (Co-op Culture) Tue 26 Oct 2021 10:31AM

Hi @austen it does address my concerns around GDPR, but not IP. I don't think that P6 funds should be used to create something that is then the IP of CAN. I would only support this if the product is Free and Open Source (FOSS).


Austen Cordasco Tue 26 Oct 2021 12:14PM

Thanks @Mark Simmonds (Co-op Culture & Platform 6) . I will take your points back to the team. For clarity, when you say "free" do you mean free to use, i.e. do you want subscriptions removed as an income stream?


Josef Davies-Coates Fri 12 Nov 2021 5:44PM

For further clarity, no the service wouldn't have to be free to use to be Free and Open Source Software.

A very common model is for there to be a paid for hosted service, but all the source code for running the platform is also available for free so that those who wanted to (and have the required skills) could install it on there own server and use a self-hosted version of the platform.


Kate Whittle Mon 18 Oct 2021 11:11AM

The link doesn't work for me? It's clearly working for others?


Austen Cordasco Mon 18 Oct 2021 11:52AM

I'll send it you


Martin Meteyard Mon 18 Oct 2021 12:21PM

This seems well thought out and positive - I'd vote for it.


Nathan Brown (Co-op Culture) Mon 18 Oct 2021 1:34PM

I have a question. When I asked last year if I could share the tool in question with Barefoot practitioners we were training as an example of a diagnostic tool, I was told that people required a training session before they were allowed to use it. Has this changed, is it missing from the proposal or did I miss it in the proposal?


Austen Cordasco Mon 18 Oct 2021 5:38PM

Sorry to contradict you, Nathan, but I don't think that's what you were told, in fact I remember the telephone conversation. The T&C's are that users are required to register as licensed users so that they can report bugs and improvement suggestions and get updated versions, so that they are not using ancient versions in the future, and also share their data (anonymised if necessary) so that all users can get intelligence gleaned from aggregated data. It's about forming a community of users and all moving forward together. Issuing copies of the tool to all the barefoot students without registering them individually would contravene these T&C's. There is no requirement for users to be trained before getting a licence. If users need training, part of the deal is that that can be provided FREE. I'm sorry that there has been this misunderstanding.

If and when the tool goes online these T&C's will need to be revised but we hope to retain these principles, within the limits of data protection legislation.


Nathan Brown (Co-op Culture) Tue 19 Oct 2021 11:08AM

Thanks for clarification. Look forward to it being more widely available. As you know, I helped develop early version so have a fondness for it


Austen Cordasco Tue 19 Oct 2021 5:06PM

I see no reason why you should not introduce it to the barefooted and suggest that they apply for a licence to use it.


Nathan Brown (Co-op Culture) Wed 20 Oct 2021 2:53PM

Once it's available online we will. We don't have time in the sessions to introduce it as we are already sacrificing content. We can signpost to it (we do mention it) or send them something they can trial on a client. We are a lean operation and needed a tool which we had permission to send without any extra barriers like applying for licencing before it could be used. Perhaps for a future run you could licence specific named individuals on the course enabling us to do that?


Josef Davies-Coates Fri 12 Nov 2021 5:52PM

The standard no barrier way to achieve similar goals used in the open source/ creative commons world is to simply distribute the software with the license, which stipulates people are free to use it but if they improve it they have to share those improvements too.

See e.g

Share alike





Josef Davies-Coates Fri 12 Nov 2021 6:04PM

Can I ask @Austen Cordasco roughly what percentage of licensed users of CAN tools he thinks have ever actively engaged with providing useful feedback etc?

I'd guess no more than 10%, but perhaps it's more given the niche market?


Austen Cordasco Tue 16 Nov 2021 12:55PM

We don't keep a record of which users provide feedback but it probably is no more that 10%. The fact is that we never hear from most users again once they have been given a tool and a license to use it because at that point we loose control of it. Unless they report back to us we have no way of knowing if they use it and collect data, if they copy it to other people or if they change or corrupt it. Moving to online registration and online use only would instantly solve that problem and move that number from <10% to 100%. We would see all the data that users collect and if they wanted to modify the tool they would not be able to do so by themselves.


Josef Davies-Coates Thu 18 Nov 2021 9:45PM

Thanks @Austen Cordasco , I actually guessed figure would be in the "no more than 10%" range because that is a perfectly normal pattern.

I'm struggling to see what disadvantages there would be to simply letting anyone download/ access the software, but distributed with a "by, share-alike" type license that you don't have to jump through administrative hoops to get a hold off. The licence is simply distributed with the software.

You'd very likely still only get 1-10% of people contributing/ providing feedback, but from a potentially much large pool of users (e.g. @Nathan Brown (Co-op Culture) and @Mark Simmonds (Co-op Culture & Platform 6) would've already got all the barefoot alumni using them)

Also, letting people modify the tool for their needs by themselves is a good thing to keep imho.

As I mentioned previously, a pretty standard open source business model is to sell a hosted service (which users cannot modify) but to also provide free access to a self-hostable version that people are free to modify (so long as they contribute those modifications back) to their own needs.


Kate Whittle Tue 19 Oct 2021 4:22PM

No issues, I think it's a great and timely idea.


Austen Cordasco Mon 25 Oct 2021 5:26PM

Here is an updated version of the proposal. It has two sections appended, Data Protection and IP Rights, otherwise nothing has changed. There are one or two loose ends here but you should now have enough information to decided if you like it or not.


adrian ashton Tue 26 Oct 2021 6:40AM

I really like the idea that this can help generate both benchmarking and trend data (although but curious about the role of apples in relation to CAN's confidentiality policy towards the end?)


Austen Cordasco Tue 26 Oct 2021 10:09AM

v11 with "apples" corrected to "applies". Well spotted @adrian ashton.

Item removed


Nathan Brown (Co-op Culture) Mon 1 Nov 2021 11:37AM

This is looking good. Just asking some clarification questions from a P6 perspective, without judgement:

  1. Is there a licence for P6 to host this in perpetuity or could hosting be revoked by CAN if it chose? It appears that as CAN is the owner of the IP it would have that power without a specific licence for usage. I know this creates problems as we'd want the tool out of date but as this seems to be a joint venture it needs to be considered.

  2. I can see that CAN own the aggregated data. CAN also "aggregates that data and gleans intelligence from it" . Does P6 get anything from that data? I see that "Aggregation of data, analysis, report writing (annually)" is costed in the budget but I couldn't see who gets that report and whether it is open data or a PDF report? Maybe I missed that?

  3. Succession/risk. In the event that CAN ceased tradng, could P6 (or a Member of?) pick up the role (i.e. can we make sure the thing P6 creates can exist if CAN does not?).

I think some of these issues might need to be addressed if P6 was to apply for funding to cover costs.


Austen Cordasco Thu 11 Nov 2021 10:15AM

We are working on updating the document to address @Mark Simmonds (Co-op Culture & Platform 6) 's concerns and @Nathan Brown (Co-op Culture) 's comments. Thank you for your patience.


Graham Thu 11 Nov 2021 11:45AM

Just on the question of ownership and thinking about making any of this 'open source' I think it's worth expanding a little on what is actually being talked about in terms of what will be created and how that will hopefully be deployed and used.

I guess that the bigger vision here is to create a platform over time that provides access to a suite of useful analytical and diagnostic tools. If those tools are indeed useful then we should see lots of people making use of them. This will generate a growing dataset that could be of value to people and organisations involved in the development of the cooperative economy. The existence of the platform also creates a focal point online for a community of practice, and that in itself may well be beneficial, and offer other opportunities. As I understand it the diagnostic tool under discussion, the first of this potential suite, has been developed and nurtured by CAN and so it seems reasonable that they can claim ownership of the tool. Ownership is of course distinct from any licence to make use of the tool, and there's already been some discussion elsewhere in this thread about the ability of people to use the tool.

In terms of making something open source, I guess that we are probably (but I might be wrong) talking about the code that makes the tool work in an online context (as opposed to it's current iteration as a spreadsheet). As I understand it we're talking about a tool that will be implemented in essence as a web-based form, which will gather and store the submitted data, and potentially provide some analytical reports/tools to assist with deriving value from that data. The form itself of course only represents one element of a broader interface/context that will need to be implemented in order for the whole thing to make sense to the various user roles that will make use of the tool, and to facilitate that use. The proposal is that the entire thing is developed using two well known web applications (Drupal and CiviCRM), both of which are open source applications readily available to anyone to download and install.

So, if there is a desire or expectation that the product of this project is somehow available via an open source licence, what is it that should be made available? Should we seek to make the entire platform available, or is it just the form, or perhaps something in between? I can see arguments for and against. If a key longer term benefit of the platform is the aggregated data and the insights that may be derived from that, then it surely makes sense to ensure that all that data is aggregated in one place. To facilitate a fragmented approach by having multiple forms/platforms in place, perhaps serving different markets or sectors or geographies, each collecting data into a separate silo, this seems counter-productive, and potentially damaging to the viability of the project.

Where I can see the sense in making at least some things available is where it might help to develop useful partnerships: I can for example see a case where people in the US (or any other part of the world for that matter) might want to develop something similar for co-ops in their part of the world and want a tool that is similar but different, tailored to their needs. In that context it may make sense to provide a copy of what we're looking to build so that they don't have to start from scratch. Equally it might be better to have everything under one roof, enabling all partners to benefit from the larger pool of aggregated data.

Clearly the project does want to encourage active engagement with users, with easy opportunities to suggest improvements, report issues, etc., and to encourage the sorts of partnerships mentioned above. This is also an open approach, and one which in my view is more constructive, and which supports and promotes the integrity of the project rather than potentially detracting from it.

I think we would do well to consider carefully what and how we might wish to make things available, within the context that we want this project to be successful.


bob cannell Thu 11 Nov 2021 3:08PM

will this include people stuff? how to work cooperatively, non violent communication, cooperative behaviour agreements etc. and especially cooperatively managing disruptive people. I have just been asked to help yet another established worker coop where a new member is blowing the team apart and dragging down the business. such disruptive and domineering personalities do not respond to procedures that assume goodfaith and goodwill. their divide and rule tactics split up even long established coops.

im not suggesting i have great answers but its an issue we often dont want to takk about and avoid, until its too late.


Nathan Brown (Co-op Culture) Fri 12 Nov 2021 9:33AM

I think that we are talking about a diagnostic tool rather than the solutions which is the next step, but the tool might be improved with some specific diagnostic questions to help identify these problems.


Graham Fri 12 Nov 2021 10:26AM

The initial diagnostic tool that is planned is aimed at the development needs of start-up groups. While this could encompass people stuff (and perhaps does - I don't have it front of me to check - @Austen Cordasco can enlighten us on this) my guess is that it focusses primarily elsewhere. Maybe the issues you refer to are more about more established groups, in which case some of the other diagnostics in CAN's portfolio may be better suited. But in general terms, by making these tools more widely available/accessible by getting them online, I think we can usefully open up the discussion about perceived gaps and improvements, and bring more expertise to bear.


Austen Cordasco Tue 16 Nov 2021 11:58AM

As Nathan and Graham have said, this is a diagnostic tool, designed to gather data and information about the start-up group. During the process of the data gathering the client may learn something but that it is a bonus and not the prime purpose.

The information gleaned is used to:

  • Provide a basic feasibility assessment

  • Identify critical action points and critical pathways

  • Prioritise action points

  • Draw up an action plan from which are derived task lists for both the consultant and the client.

If the diagnosis references problems with "people stuff" then that will be tackled in the subsequent delivery of service to the client by the consultant.


Kate Whittle Thu 11 Nov 2021 5:22PM

Couldn't agree more Bob. But I'll be interested to hear yours and others' approaches to doing this work online. I am doing similar work via Zoom at the moment and I only realised yesterday one of the reasons why I'm finding it frustrating (& I guess others too) is the lack of body language. I'm used to walking around, expressing myself physically as well as verbally and reading others' body language. You can only see hear and shoulders at best in those little zoom boxes.


Nathan Brown (Co-op Culture) Fri 12 Nov 2021 9:31AM

Also your brain has to work harder to fill in the missing bits, which is why we suffer from zoom fatigue and IMO may make for poorer decisions as we are tired. More here: https://news.stanford.edu/2021/02/23/four-causes-zoom-fatigue-solutions/


Kate Whittle Sat 13 Nov 2021 11:52AM

Thanks so much, Nathan, a really interesting article and so obvious why Zoom can be so tiring and stressful. & I thought it was just me! 😉


Leo Sammallahti Fri 12 Nov 2021 2:53PM

Looks good and would be happy for P6 to fund it, but how much funding is asked from Platform6? I would not support P6 putting more than 20% of its funds into one project.


Josef Davies-Coates Fri 12 Nov 2021 5:59PM

As I understand it P6 has about £5000 and this proposal is for £4000 so it's currently about 80% of funds.


Leo Sammallahti Fri 12 Nov 2021 6:09PM

More than happy to fund this but do feel it would be bit unfair to other coops that might want funding to allocate 80% of the funds to a single project.


Austen Cordasco Tue 16 Nov 2021 1:07PM

This issue is outside the scope of the proposal itself but is an important consideration and is, in my opinion, its biggest threat.


Graham Wed 24 Nov 2021 2:26PM

Hi Leo. I think this is a fair point. My understanding - given that I was involved in working up the proposal - is that the amount requested is an estimate of costs, and in my view is at the higher end of the range. While there is still detail to be finalised my sense is that the work could be completed within the timeframe estimated, leaving something in the kitty. If I was to take a wild guess, given what I know right now I reckon if all goes relatively smoothly, and we don't end up tied into knots around data permissioning, open sourcing, etc., we could probably get it done for 70-80% of the estimated cost.


Austen Cordasco Tue 16 Nov 2021 1:03PM

Thank you all for your feedback.  Some good points have been raised, which we are taking into consideration as we update the document.  It's getting quite detailed and complex but the positive responses encourage us to press on.  Stand by for v12.


Martin Strube Wed 17 Nov 2021 10:59AM

I was reminded about good old https://cda-anywhere.com/ by a question raised by Dave. Hopelessly out of date now (est 2000), it nevertheless has some useful archive breakdowns and headings - and even some templates and other tools which could be tweaked. All the best, M


Austen Cordasco Thu 9 Dec 2021 10:52AM

I have attached a revised version of the bid that addresses the following concerns raised on this thread:

  • Could CAN take away P6's license to host the thing?

  • What happens if CAN goes bust?

  • How much feedback are you currently getting from users? (This would increase from <10% to 100%)

  • Disambiguating IP of the tool(s) (copyright CAN) and the new software (Open source)

So you don't have to read the whole thing again, these are the changes:

  • Value proposition for the end user: added "Access to intelligence gained from analysis of all aggregated data relating to the specific tool(s) that they use and not just data that users choose to share, which is currently very little"

  • Data protection: changed "P6 will host the system" to "P6 will host the system in perpetuity"

  • Data protection: added "In the event that CAN ceases to trade all data and IP rights relating to this project that are owned by CAN will pass to Platform 6."

  • IP Rights section replaced by 3 new sections: Aggregated data and users’ feedback, Use of the tool and Use of the new software. Please read these new sections for details.

We would like to thank those who have raised these concerns as responding to them has made us address issues that we hadn't considered in sufficient detail.

We would like to put this proposal to P6 Members for approval (or otherwise) in the near future but first need to check that people are happy with the amendments. In the absence of any objections I'll put it to Members on 16/12.


Martin Meteyard Fri 10 Dec 2021 1:32PM

Thanks @Austen Cordasco . However I'm just wondering what happens if P6 ceases to trade?


Graham Fri 10 Dec 2021 1:55PM

In such a circumstance the directors of Platform 6 would make every effort to ensure a secure cooperative home for the system for the long term.


Graham Fri 10 Dec 2021 1:57PM

And the open source nature of the thing will make it easy for others to pick it up and carry the service on.