Alek Tarkowski

Director of Strategy
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About Alek

Alek is the Director of Strategy at Open Future. He has over 15 years of experience with public interest advocacy, movement building and research into the intersection of society, culture and digital technologies. He is a sociologist by training and holds a Ph.D. in sociology from the Polish Academy of Science.

In 2010 he established Centrum Cyfrowe, one of the leading Polish organizations promoting openness and internet users’ rights. He led Centrum Cyfrowe for ten years as the Director and President of the Board. Before founding Centrum Cyfrowe, he was a strategic advisor to the Prime Minister of Poland.

In 2005, he co-founded Creative Commons Poland and had since then been an active member of the Creative Commons network. He is currently a member of the Board of Directors of the Creative Commons organization.

Alek has been involved in a range of initiatives aimed at charting new directions and strategies for a range of organizations and the open movement itself. He led (with Nicole Allen), the 10th Anniversary review of the Cape Town Open Education Declaration. He co-chaired (with Ryan Merkeley) CC’s network strategic review process, which led to the creation of the new CC network model in 2017. He is one of the authors of the Open Policy Index, an effort to map open policies worldwide. In Poland, he has been involved in developing, the open public textbooks initiative. Finally, he co-authored A Vision for Shared Digital Europe, an alternative digital policy vision for Europe.

He is a member of the advisory board of the Inspiring Girls Polska foundation. He is also one of the co-founders of COMMUNIA, the European Association for the Public Domain. Together with other COMMUNIA members, he’s been involved since 2015 in European copyright reform advocacy, related to the European Copyright Directive legislative process. As a member of the Board of Strategic Advisors to the Prime Minister of Poland (2008-2011), he co-authored the strategic report “Poland 2030” (2009) and the Polish official long-term strategy for growth.

He is an alumnus of the Leadership Academy for Poland (class of 2017) and former Junior Fellow at McLuhan Program on Culture and Technology, University of Toronto.

He published, with Mirek Filiciak, a collection of essays titled “Two zero. Alphabet of the new culture and other essays”. Since 2006 he has been blogging for “Polityka,” a prominent Polish weekly.

Alek lives in Warsaw with his partner and two daughters. In his free time, he cooks, runs and bakes bread.



Paradox of Open Redux

January 23, 2023 by: Alek Tarkowski et al.
After many conversations on the Paradox of Open, and the series of responses to their essay, Alek Tarkowski and Paul Keller share their reflections on the issue of addressing the power imbalances in the open ecosystems.

Launch of the AI_Commons white paper

September 28, 2022 by: Alek Tarkowski
We are publishing today, as a request for comments, a white paper on understanding the implications of face recognition training with CC-licensed photographs.

Data Act impact assessment fails to grasp societal value of data

April 28, 2022 by: Alek Tarkowski
Alek finds that the impact of the proposed Data Act was assessed based solely on economic cost-benefit analysis. Important provisions on Business-to-Government (B2G) data sharing were evaluated without any methods for assessing societal value.

Re-opening the internet

March 25, 2022 by: Alek Tarkowski
The final DMA proposal mandates that messaging services meeting the definition of "large gatekeeper platforms" will need to become interoperable. As a result, these key types of services will shift from a collection of “walled gardens” controlled by their owners to a connected — more open — ecosystem.

Digital Principles: The Digital Public Space is still a largely empty promise

January 28, 2022 by: Alek Tarkowski
The Declaration on European Digital Rights and Principles proposed by the Commission does not do enough for shaping the European online ecosystem as a digital public space, and not just a market. The "Digital Public Space" principle should be expanded upon to secure a stronger focus on societal objectives and collective rights.

The Conference on the Future of Europe

May 27, 2021 by: Alek Tarkowski et al.
The Conference on the Future of Europe–CoFoE–represents an unprecedented democratic exercise bringing mass citizen participation through digital platforms. The Open Movement and other activist organizations should use this opportunity to shape future EU policies.

Digital Compass – Can you point me to the society?

May 7, 2021 by: Alek Tarkowski
A critical take on the European Commission's Communication "2030 Digital Compass" which defines the policy objectives for Europe's Digital Decade.


April 29, 2021 by: Francesco Vogelezang et al.
Openly licensed photographs of faces have been broadly used for the training of AI facial recognition systems. This is widely presented as an example of corporate extraction of value from the commons, yet no policy or governance solution has been provided to this challenge.

Interoperability with a Purpose

December 14, 2020 by: Alek Tarkowski et al.
Interoperability is a key step to fix the internet and to build digital public infrastructures. Interoperability has arrived on the policy agenda, where it is widely expected that the European Union’s upcoming Digital Services Act contains at least some interoperability measures for so-called gatekeeper platforms.



January 12, 2023 by: Alek Tarkowski et al.
The AI_Commons Final Report summarizes our findings and offers recommendations for commons-based governance of AI datasets.

AI_Commons white paper

September 28, 2022 by: Alek Tarkowski et al.
This white paper presents the case of using openly licensed photographs for AI facial recognition training datasets. The analysis is part of our exploration of how AI training datasets, and works included in those datasets, can be better governed and shared as a commons.

Data Commons Primer

September 20, 2022 by: Alek Tarkowski et al.
This primer translates the conceptualizations of the governance of data as a commons into a design framework that brings these ideas to life, in particular through public policies.

Public data commons

May 24, 2022 by: Alek Tarkowski et al.
This policy brief presents a model for public-interest B2G data sharing, aimed to complement the current proposal of the Data Act. The proposal includes the creation of the European Public Data Commons, a body that acts as a recipient and clearinghouse for the data made available. 

Generative Interoperability

March 11, 2022 by: Alek Tarkowski et al.
The report "Generative Interoperability: Building public and civic spaces online" co-authored with Commons Network, proposes to treat interoperability as a policy principle that supports the creation of new public-civic digital spaces.

Data Act: Business to Government Data Sharing

February 23, 2022 by: Francesco Vogelezang et al.
Policy brief on the provisions dealing with Business to Government Data Sharing in the European Commissions proposal for a Data Act that was published on 23 February 2022.

Data Act: Interoperability and Data Sharing Services

February 23, 2022 by: Alek Tarkowski et al.
Policy brief on the provisions dealing with Interoperability and Data Sharing services in the European Commissions proposal for a Data Act that was published on 23 February 2022.

The argument against property rights in data

December 10, 2021 by: Alek Tarkowski et al.
In this policy brief we review the EU policy debate on access and use of data in view of the upcoming Data Act. We provide arguments against the introduction of new property rights–including the sui generis database right–in favor of strengthening data access rights.

Digital Public Space – A missing policy frame for shaping Europe’s digital future

September 29, 2021 by: Alek Tarkowski et al.
This article is Open Future's contribution to Building a European Digital Public Space - Strategies for taking back control from Big Tech platforms, a book edited by Aleksander Baratsits and Published by iRights Media in November 2021

The Paradox of Open

March 5, 2021 by: Paul Keller et al.
The Paradox of Open is the essay that we published in March 2021 to mark the launch of Open Future. In this essay we reflect on almost 20 years of our involvement in the open movement.

A Vision for a Shared Digital Europe

April 12, 2019 by: Paul Keller et al.
The Vision for a Shared Digital Europe is a policy frame that can guide policymakers and civil society organisations involved with digital policymaking in the direction of a more equitable and democratic digital environment.