Offers and Needs Networks and Projects

A really interesting call today kindly hosted by Oli of Open.Coop and Murmurations

The Murmurations network team have been busy looking at aligning simple offers and needs networks and tools, including LETS and Timebank accounting solutions, location-based community mapping and other established open platforms… The conversations are mostly on aligning schemas…

Of extra-special interest (to me anyway :slight_smile: ) were Communecter and Catalist. Both seem advanced and active among the quite similar projects that were discussed:

Communecter

is a very functional / usable hub / platform (PHP backend + Mongo-DB as a database. Frontend JavaScript) with a community flavour:

Its territorial approach and provides an open toolbox for all local stakeholders (citizens, NGOs, local businesses, government and public organizations), that gives the opportunity to publish its Informations, to create a network, dynamics, or develop links within a given territory.

Communecter is open source and open data. It’s by Association Open Atlas
(becoming a co-op I think)

Basically they align:

  • people
  • organisations
  • projects
  • events
    …and they use openbadges as a simple protocol for managing roles, in a quite sophisticated way within their platform. They propose to publish and consume offers / needs / posts with peer organisations, using ActivityPub as a protocol for exchange with other community peers.

Tibor Katelbach is their lead and there’s a nice interview here.

Catalist

has a network opportunities tool called Trove that

combines crowd-sourced community directory and social bookmarking tools, to create intention-based connections, foster collaboration, and catalyze coordinated action.

Both Vincent Arena (of Catalist) and Tibor seemed interested in talking to us about Verifiable Credentials and Openbadges

(for more on Openbadges vs VC’s - very similar - see this article )

Other projects of interest:

Offers and Needs Market and App

https://offersandneeds.com/ this is a facilitated process / pattern more than a platform or protocol?
…but they do have an app in the works…
https://oanm-prototype.glideapp.io/

Web of Needs

This looks pretty complete and well thought through decentralised model, including a security architecture

(inactive?)
Web of Needs | Research Studios Austria FG.

Community Forge (LETS, Timebanks and Mutual Credit)

Matt Slater is busy maintaining a group of local exchange trading scheme applications and communities http://hamlets.communityforge.net/ As I understood it, the Offers and Needs network indicates the type of exchange needed (sale in fiat, barter, gift, mutual credit / local currency) but does not cover the execution and settlement of the transactions, which is the accounting core of LETS and Timebanks

Way Forward

Vocabularies / Ontologies

The Murmurations team are working hard on getting something simple and practical together to support needs and wants inter-op between communities… coming up with a simple standard and putting it ‘out there’. This is great ‘show before tell’ practice, and perhaps something we could build on here for Coop Creds, with another iteration of our demo.

The individual projects specialising in needs and wants already have quite advanced and comprehensive schemas of their own - for example for Catalist, see https://airtable.com/shrx7pA48AhHIhv1I/tblYM7C4i25i8kEsA which, being in established use, seems more complete and useful than the current iteration of the Murmurations needs and wants schema: MurmurationsLibrary/offers_wants_prototype-v0.0.1.json at test · MurmurationsNetwork/MurmurationsLibrary · GitHub

However, for me, I think the Value Flows work by Lynn Foster, Bob Haugen et al is the most comprehensive in breadth and depth that I’ve seen. It seems to cover the needs and wants scenario as ‘planned’ economic events. It also seems well-supported with a GraphQL API reference implementation.

Role of Coop Creds in ‘Offers and Needs’

These networks are examples of use-cases in ‘cross-selling’ between co-operative communities, as in this example. It’s interesting how they have independently identified the importance of ‘badges’ (recognising individual role, capability or reputation) (especially in Communecter), access control (Vincent from Catalist was keen to point out that not every offer / want should be public everywhere) and privacy (data minimisation …not having to scatter email addresses or other identifiers across the ecosystem - everyone). At this early stage the Murmurations team seem less concerned with these aspects, understandably wanting to try to get something simple ‘out there’ early.

Coop Creds opportunities?
This needs a fuller conversation, as in our requirements process… maybe this could end up with an easier, common way for the Offers and Needs to:

  • broker user identity and access management across participating communities
  • share a common openbadge type for community membership focused on the posting of Offers and Needs - Create a VC definition based on this
  • Set up basic issuer / verifier ‘prove it’ platform for Offers and Needs (Enables participants to be issued with verifiable badges across participating platforms… stronger digital (and paper) authentication and trust)
  • Digital receipting / ticketing

Growth Hacking

This is the bit I am missing. Where are the biggest user communities? What types of Offers and Needs might attract most interest / value? How to compete (or collaborate) with simple and very successful services like Freecycle

…basically, building a successful ecosystem is about much more than a bunch of technology and standards.

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