Coops often rely on proprietary services for managing their data, which do not reflect their cooperative principles or business practices. CoBox is an innovative suite of open hardware and software providing accessible governance tools for organisations and networks. It comprises a human-centric plug and play server with pre-installed privacy enhancing coop software designed to promote members’ data sovereignty.
CoBox seeks to build on the historic tendency for networks of coops to collaborate. CoBox brings a cooperative approach to hosting, treating data as a common good owned by citizens. Leveraging the benefits of self-hosting combined with peer-to-peer technologies to share responsibilities of maintaining data availability. As well as serving internal organisational governance needs these simple to use tools provide the infrastructure for governance of the CoBox network, to manage, research and guide the ecosystem, providing a state of the art alternative to corporate models.
Europe has over 170.000 cooperatives with an annual turn-over of more than €1000bn (Cocolina, 2016). Many already collaborate within sector-specific networks of trust. Targetting the data management needs of existing networks - starting with CoTech and Networked Archives - provides a base from which to grow the community of P2P self- hosting and access to the cooperative cloud, ultimately contributing towards the digital sovereignty and autonomy of cooperative groups and organisations in Europe.
CoBox will itself aims to be composed as a federated digital coop with two primary income streams: sales of the physical CoBox and a SaaS model for provision of training, customisation and features. Drawing on Ostrom (1990) and Benkler (2006), CoBox will accumulate shared gains for the ecosystem by offering a hashbase alternative for search and discovery, collectively governed as a commons service by its stakeholders. Basic membership dues will support operational costs for the network governance structure
Our team has been working together across a range of projects for over ten years. The past two years have been spent developing a related component tool, darkcrystal.pw, which is built on the p2p protocol secure-scuttlebutt and has recently gained positive attention within the PETS community from Briar, Tella, DeltaChat and Cryptpad. All social research and software development has been 100% open source. Individually, we have long histories in social, environmental, economic and technological decentralisation movements, including project coordination, financial administration, research, design and software development for collective and collaborative projects including Loomio, CoBudget, Radical Routes Coop Network, Mietshauser Syndikat, Agorama Server Coop, Secure Scuttlebutt, CoTech, Robin Hood Cooperative Hedge Fund, London Social Centers Network and MayDay Rooms London. We have also participated in the successful EU-funded D-CENT, DECODE, NEXTLEAP and Panoramix H2020 consortiums.