2nd Workshop on Studying Technical Mechanisms for Supporting Sharing Communities

Workshop at the 19th European Conference on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work (ECSCW 2021), Zurich, Switzerland

COVID-19 Situation
Due to the circumstances related to COVID-19, the workshop will follow an online format that allows remote participation.

Sharing economies enabled by technical platforms have been studied regarding their economic, legal, and social effects, as well as with regard to their possible influences on CSCW topics such as work, collaboration and trust. While a lot of research is ongoing around the sharing economy and related communities, there is little work addressing the phenomenon from a socio-technical point of view. Our workshop is meant to address this gap. Building on research themes and discussion from last year’s ECSCW, we seek to engage deeper with topics such as novel socio-technical approaches for enabling sharing communities, discussing issues around digital consumer and worker protection, as well as emergent challenges and opportunities of existing platforms and approaches.


Technology is a key component in the emergence of the commercial sharing economy and community-oriented collaborative economy initiatives. Housing cooperatives, community gardens, food coops, tool libraries, skill swapping arrangements and other citizen initiatives use digital technologies for collaboration, communication, and coordination purposes, and are included under the same umbrella of the collaborative economy. In the latter cases, reuse, recycling, mobilisation of existing resources and initiatives have a real impact on the local economy.

The workshop is a follow-up of a workshop from ECSCW 2020, where we sought to examine and explore the relationship between these enabling technologies and the emerging initiatives and communities (see https://cio.cs.au.dk/ecscw-workshop/). The aim of this year’s follow-up workshop is to further engage with these research themes, and work towards a better understanding of core technical mechanisms and issues that we have identified. We invite submissions that build on works presented last year, particularly engaging with the following issues:

  • How can we design mechanisms that enable effective and flexible sharing of digital goods and services, from simple low-tech approaches to highly sophisticated technologies such as blockchain?
  • What governance and license models can facilitate their use?
  • How can technical platforms be designed to protect the rights of their users (both consumers as well as gig workers)?
  • What role play different legal and cultural contexts, as well as general implications from the “datafication” of our lives?
  • How can we address possible shortcomings of existing designs, for instance in terms of enhancing collectivity, sustainability and resilience?
  • How can we raise awareness about those issues and values in sharing communities?

By ‘mechanisms’, we mean technological mechanisms that play a role in enabling, ordering, structuring, hindering, shaping interactions and have various other impacts or effects on practices within sharing communities. We recognise that there is no causal effect between how a community uses a platform or how activities unfold and then technical mechanisms, however, we believe that it is possible to identify and discuss common use patterns, effects, and probable relations between one or more technological mechanisms and sharing and caring practices. Hence, our workshop is intended to focus on the technical features and infrastructures that support the collaborative practices and community aggregation, in relation to their effects on collaboration and economic relations.

Themes and topics

  • Novel socio-technical approaches: How can mechanisms enable effective and flexible sharing of digital goods and services and how will these affect business models and user behavior?
  • Digital consumer and worker protection: How can we help to protect the rights of users, both of consumers and gig workers?
  • Emergent challenges and opportunities: How can we improve existing designs, for instance in terms of enhancing collectivity, sustainability and resilience?

Furthermore, we are inviting works about the topics from the initial workshop:

  • Platform taxonomies: How can we analyse and categorise technical mechanisms from a socio-technical perspective?
  • Ideals and Conflict: What happens when community values and ideals conflict with those embedded in the tools they use?
  • (Un)intended dark designs: What happens when a community appropriates commercial technologies in terms of unintended effects and emerging dark designs?
  • Organising on and around platforms: How can communities deal with various organisation and governance models imposed by technical platforms?


We invite researchers and practitioners to participate by submitting a short paper (2-4 pages) on their research or experiences using the ECSCW Exploratory Paper template.

Submitted papers should relate to the research questions outlined in the call. We are especially interested in empirical studies of sharing economy platforms and their socio-technical implications. Both reports of research in progress and completed studies will be accepted. We are also inviting practitioners to submit experience reports about existing technologies.

The workshop organisers will select the position papers based primarily on their ability to generate fruitful discussion of important issues and also to provide examples of practice related, high quality case studies. At least one author of each accepted paper must attend the workshop. The accepted papers will be made available to the participants in advance and discussants will be assigned to each paper.

Upon acceptance, at least one author of each accepted position paper must attend the workshop. See the main conference site for more information on registration etc. https://ecscw.eusset.eu/2021/.

Important dates:

  • Submit position paper by April 9th , 2021.
  • Notification by April 30th , 2021.
  • Pre-workshop preparation package by May 31st, 2021.
  • Workshop at ECSCW (online-format) June 7th, 2021.

Submissions and questions should be emailed to Christina Pakusch (christina.pakusch[at]h-brs.de)

Workshop program (tentative)

Due to the circumstances related to COVID19 and the transition to remote / hybrid activities in relation to the ECSCW 2021 conference, the workshop will follow an online format with remote participation.

  • Preparation before the workshop: We will circulate the accepted position papers and ask participants to read these and reflect on these based on the themes proposed. Depending on the scope and focus of the contributions, we will consider proposing a few guiding questions.
  • Morning: Introductions and short presentations: The workshop will start with short presentations of the position papers. Depending on the clustering around the themes, this can happen in plenum or in two steps where they are grouped around themes and then synthesised into a group presentation by the participants.
  • Afternoon (1) Generative group work: The afternoon will start with group work examining the themes with the aim of generating input to the main aims. This will involve mapping promising technological approaches, issues around digital consumer and worker protection, as well as emergent challenges and opportunities within the sharing economy.
  • Afternoon (2) Synthesis: As the final step, participants will engage in a collective exercise with the task of synthesising the workshop and discussions into key directions for future research under the heading “What has CSCW to offer to the sharing economy?”

Goals and outcome

  • Collecting research on socio-technical aspects of sharing economy platforms.
  • Engaging deeper with research themes, gaps, related work, in particular topics that are relevant to CSCW.
  • Working towards a better understanding of core mechanisms and trade-offs in the design of platforms for the sharing economy.
  • Discuss and outline various abstractions across identified platforms, e.g. design patterns for community platforms, catalogues of proven mechanisms and enabling features.

Depending on the outcome of the workshop’s discussions and on the interest of the participants, we may explore further publication outlets for the workshop papers. The contributions will be made available on the workshop website, given participant consent.

Workshop Organizers

Gabriela Avram
Lecturer in Digital Media and Interaction Design and Senior researcher at the Interaction Design Centre of the University of Limerick.

Why is collaborative and sharing economies important to CSCW research?
Today, technology and online platforms are crucial in developing the collaborative and sharing economy. With our history, the CSCW community is in a unique position to understand both the potential and the challenges in how technology can support local initiatives to share and grow resources and knowledge.

Alexander Boden
Professor at the Institute for Digital Consumption, Bonn-Rhein-Sieg University of Applied Science, and Fraunhofer-Institute of Applied Information Technology FIT.

What makes you excited by the topic collaborative economies?
Using technology to make better use of resources has great potentials for transitioning towards more sustainable societies, one of the biggest challenges of our time.

Susanne Bødker
Professor of Human-Computer Interaction at the Department of Computer Science, Aarhus University.

What can CSCW learn from the collaborative economy?
CSCW can find new territories to explore: forms of collaboration outside workplaces, online workplaces. CSCW has the potential to offer new concepts to describe what is going on, and to offer new technological mechanisms to address specific needs or to avoid negative impacts of platforms that would be missed without adopting a socio-technical point of view.

Henrik Korsgaard
Assistant Professor at the Department of Computer Science at Aarhus University.

What would you like to get out of the workshop?
Getting a bunch of interesting people together and hopefully plot a few research trajectories on future socio-technical research in CSCW that can support and help nourish various local collaborative economy initiatives.

Myriam Lewkowicz
Full Professor of Informatics at Troyes University of Technology.

What do you think is the most important lesson from CSCW to apply in the work on sharing and collaborative communities?
CSCW has lots to offer in terms of concepts and methods for obtaining a nuanced understanding of the role of technology for sharing practices, as well as for avoiding unwanted effects in their interplay.

Christina Pakusch
Post-doc researcher at the Institute for Digital Consumption, Bonn-Rhein-Sieg University of Applied Science.

What would you like to learn or see highlighted in the workshop?
I would like to hear about how both digital consumer protection and worker protection can be further strengthened in platform use.