Data Commons: Problems and Solutions

By Sophie Bloemen, director of Commons Network.

At the European Commons Assembly in Madrid at Media Lab Prado last year, co-organised by Commons Network, one workshop was dedicated to ‘Data Commons’.

We had a very solid, knowledgeable group and developed an analysis along the lines of a matrix (see picture). We identified three categories:

  • Problems

  • Counter-actions

  • Solutions

The workshop included participants from Holochain, Wikimedia, Commons Network and Guifinet/netcommons, amongst others.

Some of the problems we highlighted:

  • Confusion between commons and public administration.
  • Centralisation -> monopolies > state surveillance
  • Appropriation and selling of commons data
  • Life is monetised by big monopolies and entities that collect data
  • Centralisation of fate in few private actors
  • Fragmentation of data (loss of potential value for common good)
  • Lack of resources for managing big data
  • Info not optimised for purpose
  • Transversal knowledge versus tailored knowledge
  • People are easily manipulated targets
  • Companies verses cities.
  • Lack of awareness of importance of data

Some of the counter-actions we identified, happening now:

  • Open data policies and law
  • Public interest data
  • Regulatory strategy (GDPR)
  • Institutional awareness
  • Open science cloud.
  • Distributed hosting with internal currency
  • Interoperable agent-centric systems
  • Data cooperatives, repositories, data commons
  • Alternative narration of data
  • Creating alternative infrastructures (DECODE, GUIFINET)
  • Applications as governance / communities of purpose
  • Framasoft
  • Campaigning for privacy
  • Noise
  • Anti-tracker
  • N-1 Social Network (like telegram mixed with linked in)
  • Education
  • Proyecto la escalera

A few of the solutions and strategies we talked about:

  • The ability to build and alternative imaginary and reach the general public
  • Create a counterbalance to the power of companies
  • Strong regulation
  • Public-Civic partnerships
  • Governance of the data
  • Ensure funding for alternative p2p infrastructures
  • serving public interest
  • providing ‘public service’
  • democratic governance
  • of the institutions / company / initiative
  • of the technology
  • Technical criteria for example: open, good license on data, auditable interfaces