Request for Proposals: Digital Infrastructure Research


Came across this the other day:

It sounds like a really interesting opportunity, if slightly tangential to what people might consider to be core business for CoTech. Certainly I would suggest that we have within CoTech the expertise to be able to produce an excellent and highly relevant piece of work. Hence I’m flagging it up here to CoTech people. Maybe we could do something in partnership with the Co-op College and some of our US counterparts, for example.

I do think, and have done for a long time, that there is scope for cooperative models to be useful and to thrive in the context of offering sustainable solutions to open source projects.

I’m not in a position to lead, but would be interested to be involved in anything should anyone here have the interest and capacity to act.

Worker Coop Weekend is 11-13 May

I’m (loosely at the moment) considering making an individual entry for this.

At the moment I’m thinking about the sustainability of growth of infrastructure in a centralised, “cloud”-based digital world. How much productivity is lost when Github goes down, for instance? What would happen if AWS went down in a broader way than the recent BGP attack? Given the growth rate of these organisations and the assumption that these systems will only become more centralised and less diverse in the near future, does this put even more eggs in one basket? The growth in environmental impact also seems to be rising from what I’ve read. How quickly are we using the vital minerals required to manufacture modern computer components and what are the alternatives? Can decentralisation be an answer to this? What about co-operative federation?


I’ve put in a quick enquiry about whether work on data standards/data infrastructure would be in scope, or if the focus is more tightly on open source code as infrastructure.

That said, I’d agree that an exploration of co-operative business models for software/code digital infrastructure would be really interested. Similarly not in a position to lead on such a proposal, but happy to explore ways to support. @Graham - have you flagged this up to anyone at co-operative college?


Not as yet, as I wanted to see if there was any traction around the idea in this space first.


One thing we discussed at the Workers Co-op Weekend was the idea of some CoTech people visiting the food co-ops (Suma, Essential, Infinity etc) to see what software they are all using and what scope there is for co-operation, could this grant potentially be of use for that?


@timdavies - I too was wondering about data infrastructure. I’d be very interested to hear the response to your enquiry.


Responses was that “data infrastructure may be a bit on the edge of the scope but that will ultimately depend on what all of the concept notes look like” with an encouragement to still submit something.


So, if the concept note were to concentrate on open source software needed to produce, maintain and consume standards-compliant data, and to implement the components of the infrastructure, then it may be a better fit??


I think in open source terms, their focus is more on critical internet infrastructure than just general open source software.