Data Commons Primer

Democratizing the information society
September 20, 2022

With this primer, we want to translate conceptualizations of the governance of data as a commons into a design framework that brings these ideas to life – in particular through public policies.

We understand commons-based approaches in the broadest sense, encompassing all frameworks that challenge the role of individual property as the dominant means of organizing social relationships.

Data commons present a way out of the trilemma: how do we balance the protection of fundamental rights (both individual and collective), generation of economic value and the public interest in access and use of data?

We hope that this primer will help to provide much-needed alignment for data commons advocates. In doing this, we are building on the work of multiple data commons theorists, activists and advocates.

In the first part of this primer, we present key issues and approaches that provide a theoretical underpinning for data commons designs. Based on this, in the second part, we propose a set of design principles for building data commons.

We are particularly interested in public policies that can bring data commons to life. There is a need to develop alternative data governance logics. And public policies will play a key role in ensuring that these alternatives are developed, and then made sustainable.


Download the Primer

Alek Tarkowski
Jan Zygmuntowski
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