CoTech gathering online - early 2021?

Seems like pandemic is not going away anytime soon. Last year we had two gatherings (Sheffield in April and Newcastle in December. We planned to organise next gathering alongside Worker Co-op Weekend in May this year. This summer @aaron from Agile Collective kickstarted organising a gathering for later in the year in Oxford but we soon learned this would be very challenging to organise.

Those who have attended any of the CoTech hacks/gatherings know the beauty of connecting to fellow co-operators in person and jointly contributing to strengthening CoTech (e.g. by drinking beer). Understandably, there has been a limited appetite for online gatherings since we communicate on this Discourse instance and other channels for years now. However, we do have new members (as well as long-standing ones) who might have not experienced any gatherings as of yet.

At the last monthly governance call we discussed the idea of connecting online for a hackathon but we did not know what could be collectively desired outcome of such an event. I was tasked with setting up a thread here (apologies for doing it so late) to start a conversation exploring ideas for an online hack. Before we even approach the question of dates and potential platforms, it would be great to hear from everyone whether they are interested at all and, if so, what would they like to engage with.

As a start, please allow me to suggest an exercise of listing 3 top things we could address at the potential gathering in early 2021. I will enumerate mine, feel most welcome to suggest completely different items as well as refer to each others’ points (for instance, do take apart my input below):

  1. Network trajectory and coordination - revisiting what CoTech has brought to the member co-ops and how to create more practical opportunities for us to come together. Naming the direction we want CoTech to go.

  2. Remote collaboration - understanding skills, aspirations and availability of other co-ops. Engaging with Hubl based on the trial period.

  3. Shared infrastructure - reviewing co-operatively run platforms for operations within co-ops and between them. What’s needed, what exists & works and what doesn’t. How can we contribute to improving co-op platforms?

If we gather enough input from different co-ops here we can hone the ideas at the monthly calls and eventually propose setting up the gathering via Loomio. Please share your thoughts & feels!

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My number one priority is that it’s enjoyable, as I think this goes the furthest in terms of strengthening the network as you put it. For me, this is the primary function because it provides motivation to do the business and process stuff later on, which can be done more asychronously.

And so I think any online gathering should involve one weird trick the doctors don’t want you to know about:

Shared tactile experiences i.e. smells and textures. I read that there are companies that have started commencing meetings by all smelling cinnamon at the same time, or all ripping some velcro or something like that. The idea being that everyone is having the same experience even though they’re not in the same place.

I’d also want to replicate the experience of gatherings as far as having most interactions being between 2-4 people at a time. I’ve found that online calls bigger than that are not conversations more than meetings, and they become difficult to be casual in. So I suppose breakout rooms are very important to me for whatever platform this would happen on.

I think some kind of structure might be necessary to be enjoyable, so yes, I am afraid I am suggesting Organised Fun. I would like to avoid a quiz as far as possible, but maybe some other kind of game could be played that people could enjoy? Maybe distributed clues for some kind of narrative could play out over the course of the day? Or, maybe it’s like, tell us some secrets about yourself, so that we may deeply know you etc. Anything that moves the space away from “typical work call”.

I’m up for putting the work in to make it capital f-u-n FUN! Maybe if others are interested we could form the Fun Circle or something?

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Fun Circle! I’m with ya

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Would like an opportunity to pick the shared infrastructure thread up again

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Thanks for kicking this off @SzczepanOfAnimorph

I have two things rattling around my brain at the moment:

  1. BizDev - can we work out a standard rates approach for collaborations that encourages collaborations and increases value to both coops.
  2. The CTO role in Tech Coops - how do tech coops do the work reserved for a CTO? (e.g. setting the technical direction, agreeing and monitoring technical standards and processes etc. Is this a challenge in your coop? Does it get easier / harder as your grow? How does this fit with a sociocratic structure (circles)? Do you have a de facto CTO? etc etc.
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An alternative might be a physical gathering alongside Worker Coop Weekend, now tentatively recheduled for 23-25 July at Selgars Mill, Stir to Action’s new training centre.

Also an online worker coop event series is being mooted for 30 April-1 May, with an international focus.

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Hi Sion,

Thanks for the information.

We had our monthly Co-Tech meeting today and would like to propose the spring gathering from 08-09 April.

The gathering could be broken into two parts:

  1. Morning part on Thursday (08/04), 10 am-1 pm; being from ‘state of the union’ and have several parallel threads running in parallel
  2. Friday (09/04) afternoon planning physical meeting and have fun into the night

Date of the next meeting: 31st March 2021 at 4 pm

Notes from today’s meeting are available here:
https://wiki.coops.tech/wiki/Circle_Call_2021-02-24

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Thanks for a swift post @mikoliang !

At the GM the other day our co-op decided to step up and organise a little spring break 8-9th of April!

This online gathering will serve as a way of catching up and as a primer for the face-to-face gathering later in the year!

As @mikoliang suggested this online gathering would be made of two half-day parts:

  1. Thursday 8th of April - 10am - 1pm
  2. Friday 9th of April - 2pm onwards!

Thursday morning part will be dedicated to elements we would like to catch up with, some of them already brought up in this thread. After lunch and on Friday morning people can hang out and do some CoTech related stuff such as updating the website etc. but there will be no ‘official’ sessions.
On Friday we would meet after lunch to synchronise updates (e.g. what happened on Thursday), have a working session dedicated to planning physical gathering in summer(?) and run into the night with the Fun circle instigated by @KingMob @Kayleigh and whoever else is a joker!

We need your input!

  1. Aside from ideas for themes / sessions already mentioned in this thread, what would you like to happen during the mini-gathering?

  2. What are your tool preferences? Meet.coop is something we normally use at CoTech. AirMeet was mentioned during the call as an alternative… any other you would like us to consider?

  3. Any other ideas for best online CoTech spring break? Don’t hold yourself back!

@mikoliang @Hannah @Geoff and myself will do everything we can to coordinate, and we certainly invite everyone to contribute!