The Open Co-op was founded in 2004 to help people collaborate and co-operate on a global scale.

Early 2004
The Open Co-op was founded

The co-op grew out of a shared vision of a better world including Gary Alexander’s book eGaia, Growing a peaceful, sustainable Earth through communications, Oliver Sylvester-Bradley’s paper Participatory Democracy Networks, Josef Davies-Coates’ and Tom Salfield’s work on Quality Quids and other collaborative and open source ideas at United Diversity and Mamading Ceesay's work on free and Open Source Software.

Late 2004
PLANET is born

Later in 2004 we presented a series of screenshots to demonstrate our vision for an online collaboration system to support a sustainable economy.

The designs might look old now but bear in mind that Facebook did not exist until February 2004 and Google Earth was not launched until June 2005, so the screenshots were quite forward thinking at the time.

Late 2004
The PLANET cartoon

We also developed a cartoon story to demonstrate how PLANET would be used in practice. The cartoon story was set in 2010 - in an attempt to show what the future could have been like...

Online collaboration

In 2005 we developed a prototype collaboration platform, built on TikiWiki, and started to grow a community of people interested in developing a collaborative, sustainable economy.

Viable Systems

In 2006 we developed ideas for how The Open Co-op could be developed as a viable system, building on the ideas of Stafford beer and John Walker.

Platform Co-ops

In 2016 the world finally woke up to the idea of Platform Co-ops, Corbyn published his Digital Democracy Manifesto and we started planning, attending and promoting platform co-op events.

OPEN 2017

In 2017 we hosted OPEN 2017, the UK's first 2 day event focused on Platform Co-ops, at  Goldsmiths University in south London. With panel sessions from leading Platform Co-op experts, open space sessions and a £2000 prize for a one lucky startup platform co-op, the event generated a lot of interest in the platform co-op model and was attended by over 350 people.

OPEN 2018

In 2018 we hosted OPEN 2018, another 2 day event on Platform Co-ops, at Conway Hall in London. The event covered platforms vs protocols, alternative economics, co-ownership structures, decentralised mapping, introduced Holochain and explored the need for a changing narrative.

Launched The Open Credit Network

In 2019 we launched The Open Credit Network, which was born out of discussions at OPEN 2018. OCN provides a template for a cooperatively owned mutual credit network built on a detailed Membership Agreement and some open source code to which is freely available for anyone to use to set up a mutual credit trading network in their local community.

OPEN 2019

The OPEN 2019 Community Gathering took place at Tech City College in London. We came together to tackle the question:

How can we support each other to take more effective action to catalyse the collaborative, regenerative economy?

OPEN 2019 happened mainly offline in a series of talks and workshops and we also heard from Paul Mason on Beyond Carbon and Capitalism – the Role of the State?

Launched Murmurations

Murmurations is a decentralized data sharing protocol, which grew out of discussions in the mapping sessions at the OPEN conferences and ideas about a collaborative sustainable economy. In 2019 we published a blog post about defining the DNA of collaboration and, working with Adam McKenty we build the first version of the Murmurations index, WordPress Plugin and demo aggregator. Murmurations has since undergone major redevelopment and features an open source API and library to help others manage decentralized data sharing.

OPEN 2020

OPEN 2020 took place entirely online over two days of talks and discussions and even some poetry – all the videos are online including the pre-event webinars. We explored mutual credit, Tools of collaboration, Coordination in decentralised networks and Governance in collaborative projects.


In 2021 we joined the international collaboration Meet.coop which provided the open source platform for OPEN 2020. We helped develop the Meet.coop brand and peer-reviewed remuneration process, and collaborated on the marketing and development of the co-op.

Launched Co-op Data Club

In 2021 we launched Co-op Data Club to grow the co-operative economy by helping co-ops support other co-ops. Our initial strategy focuses on networking Co-ops together, to enable them to connect and arrange inter-co-op promotions. Co-ops agree to promote each other via email newsletters, social media or other channels. Co-op Data Club aspires to become a fully-fledged data cooperative to help its members benefit from owning and managing their data as part of a data trust.

Launched Open Web Systems
Open Web Systems

In 2022 we launched Open Web Systems to provide open source, co-owned, surveillance free, email, office and collaborative tools powered by renewable energy. OWS grew out of ideas for a cooperative cloud and is a collaboration with Collective Tools.

What next?
What will you help to create?
The Open Co-op

The Open Co-op is, as the name implies, an open, cooperative project, which aims to build the tools, technologies and protocols of a collaborative, regenerative economy. Join us, become a PLANET Pioneer and help create a better future.


Gary Alexander

Gary Alexander

Retired Lecturer from The Open University and author of eGaia which describes a community-based, but globally linked and co-ordinated society, a global human family looking after each other and the Earth.

Oliver Sylvester-Bradley

System change advocate, marketing consultant and freelance writer who stewards The Open Co-op events and projects. Oliver’s paper on Participatory Democracy Networks, from 2004, helped form the vision for PLANET.

Josef Davies-Coates

Josef Davies-Coates

Networker and researcher helping people discover intelligent responses to climate, energy and economic uncertainty. Josef works on projects to empower people, build community, develop co-ops and create commons via United Diversity.

Mamading Ceesay

Mamading Ceesay

Technologist with experience across the application lifecycle from development to operations and support. Mamading has worked in FTSE 100 corporations through to bootstrapped startups and is currently Senior System Engineer at Holo.Host

Tom Salfield

Tom Salfield

Entrepreneur and technical architect, interested in social and technical systems that distribute power. Tom is a Co-founder and CTO at Wikifactory which helps designers prototype and manufacture hardware products in more agile ways.

In order to collaborate effectively at scale humanity requires a decentralised coordination system to manage our collective endeavours.

We are working towards this goal via a concept we call...

Everyone is welcome at The Open Co-op.