Identity and Digital Spaces: A cooperative experience

Format: Papers, RSD11, Topic: Cases & Practice, Topic: Economics & Organisations

Osioke Itseuwa, Angus McLeod, Nick Meyne, and Federico Piovesan

Co-op Credentials

A case study on the design of digital identity and trust networks for a cooperative ecosystem

Democratically governed, and collectively-owned cooperatives and modern digital platform cooperatives have been unable to access the plentiful capital investment available to established powerful platforms such as Amazon, Airbnb, Uber and Spotify. Guided by the International Cooperative Alliance (ICA) ‘Principle 6’, cooperatives are wired to cooperate, not compete with each other, but in practice, this advantageous cooperation between cooperatives has been difficult to realise or fund. Despite the good intent, silos have persisted.

To grow the cooperative sector as a whole, the connections between cooperatives need to be efficient and focused on mutual value-creation. Connections cannot flourish without identification, discovery and trusted safe interaction. Co-op credentials is a project from a consortium of cooperatives seeking to provide an infrastructure of identity and trust for cooperatives and their members.

In this submission and work-in-progress paper, we explain the project as a story of collaboration within a complex ecosystem and present our experience in action research and co-design for a community of cooperatives.

The most important metric of growth “is not the increase in the number of users but the growth of the number of interactions between them.” (Hirel, 2016).  Therefore, we have framed a very broad question for our action research:

“How can cooperatives cooperate better in order to improve their cooperative experience?”

We have kept the question as open as possible so that in the discussion, we can uncover more of the hidden, implicit opportunities for valuable interaction between cooperatives. We believe co-ownership and community participation are essential to the co-design process and that an adaptive, evolutionary approach to co-design is the way forward.

We expect the work of Bateson on “aphanipoiesis” and “Warm Data Labs” (Bateson, N. 2021) to be informative in our research and the design of our cooperative ecosystem. In particular, we will consider coalescence and the merging, mixing and fusing of context across diverse cooperatives from a variety of industrial, social and economic sectors.

Keywords: identity, trust, community, platform cooperatives, ecosystems, systemic design, cooperatives, co-operatives, collaborative

Citation Data

Author(s): Nick Meyne, Angus McLeod, Osioke Itseuwa, and Federico Piovesan
Year: 2022
Title: Identity and Digital Spaces: A cooperative experience
Published in: Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design
Volume: RSD11
Article No.: 131
Host: University of Brighton
Location: Brighton, UK
Symposium Dates: October 3–16, 2022
First published: 22 September 2022
Last update: 30 April 2023
Publisher Identification: ISSN 2371-8404

Copyright Information

Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design (ISSN 2371-8404) are published annually by the Systemic Design Association, a non-profit scholarly association leading the research and practice of design for complex systems: 3803 Tønsberg, Norway (922 275 696).


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Author(s). (20##). Article title. Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design, RSD##. Article ##.

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