Reflections on Public Event: Building the Digital Commons

As part of our Digital Commons Transition Collaboratory, Commons Network hosted a public event ‘Building Digital Commons – towards a shared, collabrative, and sovereign internet’ in Nieuwspoort, The Hague on April 25.

The importance of Digital Commons is increasingly emerging as they offer many opportunities for sovereignty, autonomy and resilience. Digital Commons, such as open source software projects, data trusts and open standards represent democratic practice, with shared ownership. They thereby initiate a shift away from centralized private or state management of technology and toward democratization of digital infrastructure.  Read the event report here.

The public event gave an insightful overview of the Digital Commons landscape in the Netherlands and abroad. The event convened experts from different fields resulting in a dynamic and lively discussion. The  panel was moderated by our very own Sophie Bloemen alongside Koos Steenbergen from the Ministry of Internal Affairs, with the speakers Fabrizia Benini on the European Digital Commons NGI project, Aik van Eemeren from the Gemeente Amsterdam, Gijs van Maanen,  assistant professor and expert on data commons from Tilburg University, and Daphne Muller, manager at  Nextcloud. This resulted in quite the interesting panel with positive, insightful exchanges. 

The event itself owes its success to the willing cooperation between panel speakers and the audience. It was a sort of communal ‘commons building’ in the sense that everyone was willing to pool their knowledge for the sake of pursuing the commons. We found that the Digital Commons have tremendous economicpolitical, and socio-cultural potential. Read the event report here.

Want to join future events? You are invited to Public Spaces: Taking Back The Internet (6 and 7 June), where we will have our next sessions to further discuss the digital commons. Commons Network is a member of the Public Spaces coalition working for a more equitable internet and we are co-organising several sessions on digital commons at the conference. The central question of the conference is: how do we – as citizens, organisations and governments – regain control of our data and our digital lives? More information on the conference here.

Digital Commons help to guard and reinforce public values such as democratization, self-determination and sovereignty. This shift offers numerous opportunities for the Netherlands or any country, also economically. Commons Network is excited to explore and bring this shift to the Netherlands. Would you like to know more about digital commons and stay informed about the transition workshop? Register at