At the launch of this activity, we asked ourselves: what role can the principle of interoperability play in modern online ecosystems? Can a rule that was foundational for the early internet today help shift the balance of power in the platform ecosystem?
In recent years, interoperability has been proposed as a policy measure for shifting power away from dominant commercial platforms. In Europe, it is a key part of the Digital Markets Act proposal. If adopted, it will open to some extent the “closed gardens” that are the dominant online platforms.
Through our research on generative interoperability, we wanted to shift focus away from approaches that treat interoperability mainly as a competitiveness measure. We were interested in defining generative interoperability policies — an approach that treats interoperability as a principle enabling an alternative, decentralized public civic ecosystem. One that creates opportunities for new actors and, in particular, public institutions and civic initiatives.
This study was conducted with Commons Network, thanks to the support of a grant from the Next Generation Internet Policy Experimentation Fund.
We investigated the role of generative interoperability in our interim research report, “Mandated and generative interoperability,” which has been the basis of the report “Generative Interoperability. Building public and civic spaces online”, further exploring the role that interoperability can play in a transformation of the digital environment so that public and civic spaces are more prominent online.