Tension lines in the digital commons: workshop

May 8, 2023


As a part of our exploration of the open movement, last May, we hosted a workshop with a small group of the movement’s leaders. It was co-organized by our partners at the Open Knowledge Foundation and Wikimedia Europe. The convening built up on what we found out in Shifting Tides – quality research about the state of the movement conducted a few months prior.

The participants were activists, experts, and critical thinkers representing different fields of open. Together, we wanted to make sense of the challenges facing the open ecosystems and propose solutions that could be adopted by organizations and activists supporting openness and the commons. Participants represented a broad range of views that allowed us to identify the strategic tensions within the movement relating to, a.o., its politics, socio-economic constraints, digital rights, and equity. You can read the full report as a PDF or online.

The workshop corresponded with the Open Knowledge Foundation’s ongoing process of updating the Open Definition. It also helped us expand on the key challenge we first identified in our founding essay, the Paradox of Open – that in today’s digital environment, openness serves as both a challenge to concentrations of power and its enabler.

We hope this conversation will continue at different open movement convenings in the coming months. In the meantime, we welcome all forms of feedback and hope that the report will prove useful for everyone involved in the open movement.

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