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Thanks to Rupert Rand and Blake House film-maker’s co-op for photography.


The Outlandish Fellowship was successfully set off to a start with a launch event on March 15th at Newspeak House. With one month of time left before the first stage of the application process closes, we ran an event that was focused on informal conversations. It was a chance for those interested in the fellowship to discuss their ideas with people from Outlandish, and for everybody to meet enthusiasts in digital co-operatives and social technology.

We were happily surprised by the number of people who came. We didn’t attempt a precise count, but at least 70 people who were not Outlanders were there at some point of the evening. This meant that the nibbles we had bought proved woefully inadequate, but more importantly we had to reshuffle our plan for the evening. Initially we wanted to connect anybody with a pitch for the fellowship with somebody from Outlandish that has relevant knowledge – a system that obviously didn’t scale properly with that many in attendance.

The night turned out to be a rare occasion when many co-operatives focused on the digital economy were under the same roof. I will struggle to list them without leaving some out, but I came across people from the Open Data Services Co-operative, Founders and Coders, Tableflip, GreenNet, Robin Hood Co-operative and the veteran co-operators from Calverts.

This made the event an opportunity to discuss potential collaborations between the digital co-operatives, one of Outlandish’s long-term goals. This year we are running a series of events and meetings to try to facilitate such connections. These events are, on the one hand, an opportunity for people to share their ideals and experiences of working in this sector. Many of us know first-hand what the benefits and challenges are for co-operatives creating and using digital tools, but we don’t have many opportunities of meeting others facing the same issues.

We hope that our events result in some practical interventions, such as the creation of platforms around common needs such as recruitment, or creating systems to make it easier to do transactions between co-operatives. It is possible that also a number of our fellowship projects will address the needs of tech co-operatives and the people who work for them. One of our aims is to create a cohort of fellows whose projects and teams are complementary to each other, and we have already talked to some projects of collaborative technology in this area that could well offer mutual support.

Like many trendy, participatory events, we also had an etherpad document that all participants could write into, and which we projected during the evening. The document became a partial repository for many great ideas that were discussed during the evening. It also listed some of the individuals that had come to the event looking to join other teams for collaborations. We hope that the etherpad will be a resource for people that want to follow up on contacts and discussions they started during the launch event. If you’re pitching a project for the fellowship and you’re missing some expertise from your team, we at Outlandish can also attempt to do some match-making.

The deadline for expressing interest in the Outlandish fellowship is on April 15th. By that date, we are expecting only a simple 300 word description of your plans. Do get in touch early, so we have enough time to offer suggestions and make sure your idea would be a good fit for the fellowship.