The Workshop Themes

Platforms are changing the way transactions happen nowadays. Buying and selling things on eBay, hailing a taxi using an app, volunteering for public good, becoming part of a food cooperative, mapping the craters of Mars or crowdfunding the creation of a new gadget – all these are based on internet platforms accessible to anyone and possible to create by anyone. It is also apparent that platforms are being more or less deliberately ‘disruptive’ of existing socio-economic arrangements. For instance, Light (2017) shows how types of crowdfunding platforms not only enable new projects to take life, but actually seek to configure new paying publics around the services provided.

There are many questions to consider regarding exchange, work, and interaction that are mediated through current and emerging platforms: What does collaboration mean in this context? Who collaborates with whom? How is collaboration currently designed for (if at all) in these platforms? What might alternative approaches look like? Further questions around trust, reputation, and related metrics (Lampinen et al. 2016) are central for understanding peer-to-peer exchange and platform-mediated forms of work. Also, previous studies have shown that the motivations of those who create such platforms are not always in sync with those of the users (Bellotti et al. 2015).

The purpose of the workshop is to bring to the forefront the social and political implications of building and/or using platforms, and the wider societal and long term implications.

Some of the questions we would like to raise in the workshop are:

Business model

How do platforms raise the revenue needed to operate? What are the differences between for-profit enterprises and those with social or political missions? How do platforms lend themselves to mutual and cooperative enterprises? How does ‘free’ labour (e.g. user-generated content) contribute to the business model?


Who owns the data generated through platforms and their interactions? How is the value of data changing as the number and variety of platforms increases? How are the patterns and traces made by interactions managed? How transparent are the data policies and the extra uses of the generated data?


Toward which ends are platforms designed? What needs, desires, or issues does the platform address? How does the design of a new platform influence the practices that emerge by using it? Is there space here for inspiring good intentions or instilling positive behaviours? How do systems influence users and their longer-term practices? How does the introduction of a platform change existing exchange practice? What practices does it substitute or make superfluous?

How does the design of the platform affect who can use it, how and where? What are the geo-political boundaries to relevance and access? How might built-in biases prejudice systems toward or away from communities?

What are the merits and challenges of commissioning a platform? Who owns the platform in community contexts? Off the shelf or bespoke, how does its owner ensure enough control to shape its direction? What are the maintenance issues in the long term?


What impact does the platform have on different actors (platform operators/maintainers, platform users)? What impact does it have on how users’ exchange practices are enacted? How accountable is the platform to support actors’ decision making? How does the platform design mediate between different actors’ interests and values? In which ways is the platform empowering or disempowering actors? How is ownership and control distributed between platform designers, operators, maintainers, and users (providers/consumers)?


Do we need to develop new or extend existing theoretical concepts to highlight particularities of the types of activities, cooperation, tools, or processes around using or developing these platforms? What new or modified theories might we need to understand and describe financial and social interactions and values associated with platforms? How do we apply existing theories to interpret observable phenomena as well as to inform the design of platforms?


Light, A., Briggs, J. (2017) Crowdfunding Platforms and the Design of Paying Publics, in Proceedings of the 2017 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI ’17). ACM, New York, NY, USA

Victoria Bellotti, Alexander Ambard, Daniel Turner, Christina Gossmann, Kamila Demkova, and John M. Carroll. 2015. A Muddle of Models of Motivation for Using Peer-to-Peer Economy Systems. In Proceedings of the 33rd Annual ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI ’15). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 1085-1094. DOI=

Airi Lampinen, Coye Cheshire ,Victoria Bellotti, Mary L. Gray  -The Future of Platforms as Sites of Work, Collaboration and Trust, CSCW16 workshop,

Scholz, T. 2016. Platform Cooperativism- Challenging the Corporate Sharing Community, Rosa Luxembourg Stiftung, New York Office, online at: