Data Commons and the Collaborative City


This workshop brought together the topics of control of (civic) data and the collaborative economic models that depend on online platforms. There is increasing interest in exploring alternatives that respect data and promote its civic control, taking into account possibilities for different modes of production & collection of this data. In what way can we facilitate data management and control in line with the social common good?

The workshop focused on how regulations and policies on open source and open data, on the one hand, and those on technology and decentralized infrastructure, on the other, can play a role in facilitating data sovereignty and new forms of local cooperativism.

Moving away from large corporation and capital-led city development, we have to rethink the Smart City model and imagine data commons that socialise the value of data. How do initiatives like guifinet and Fairbnb fit in?  The starting point for the workshop will be recent experiences in Barcelona and Amsterdam.

Sophie Bloemen, co-organizer and participant in this workshop, wrote down her notes from that day. Here’s an excerpt from that blog (or read the whole text here):

‘We had a very solid, knowledgeable group and developed an analysis along the lines of a matrix and identifying

  • A) Problems,
  • B) Happening counter actions, alternatives and
  • C) Strategies & solutions.

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

Some of the problems this group discussed:

  • 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)

Some of the alternatives:

  • Open data policies and law;
  • Public interest data;
  • Regulatory strategy (GDPR);
  • Institutional awareness;
  • Open science cloud;

Some of the strategies:

  • Counterbalance the power of companies through regulation;
  • Ensure funding for alternative P2P infrastructures;
  • New ‘open’ data licensing schemes;

Emaline Friedman, digital liberation advocate, also joined this workshop in Madrid. She wrote an essay afterwards. Read the whole essay here. A quote:

As data commons, these services stand to increase our expressive capacity to be heard and valued (by oneself and others), increase our sensory capacity to be aware and accepting of always-changing conditions, and bring to fruition the mutual aid that can grow from these capacities. These promises grow dimmer as algorithmic control makes creating proper boundaries impossible, trust related to the “when”, “where”, and “why” of being heard and valued cannot take root for want of transparency, social “chilling” sets in, and sensationalist stories impede intentions to focus…