Technology defines the way we work, live, play, care and much more. Our lives are increasingly organized around a few digital mega-companies. It is more urgent than ever to take charge of the digital transformation as it has come with many challenges. Today, public debate takes place on social media platforms that resemble public spaces, but are in fact private, commercial spaces, with business models built on polarization. At the same time essential public infrastructures are increasingly being provided by Big Tech and privatized, such as in education and health.
Platformization has taken a huge flight, yet gig economy platforms disregard workers’ rights and erode local economies. Instead of challenging inequalities as many hoped, the digital economy now mostly reinforces them and there is a concentration of power.
The infiltration of platforms into all spheres of our life has accelerated the hegemony of the logic of the market, of commodification and competition, marginalizing and replacing relational dynamics of cooperation, solidarity, and care.
The online environment is now a core aspect of our societies. Just as we need them offline, we need public and civic spaces offline . We need to create an ecosystem where citizens and communities take center stage. There is a growing movement in Europe and beyond towards support for tech infrastructure that ensures self determination and diversity, autonomy and public values, such as digital commons. Technology that supports democratic business models and regenerative practices which contribute to local economies and communities, while at the same time respecting planetary boundaries.
With Human Stories of Digital Transformation, a campaign run by Commons Network and our partners, we want to share real stories of real people who see their lives being changed by this transformation. We also point to solutions and routes forward, also for policy on different levels of government. Can we come together to build alternatives, to counter this take over?(close)
Not only do data centres require enormous amounts energy, the digital transition has led to a more centralised economy with effects on supply chains and consumer behaviour
Stories on Democratic Digital Infrastructures
Here are all the blogs we and our partners have written on the various topics, with interviews of pioneering actors across Europe.
Local economies and communities
Tech platforms active in delivery, retail and mobility services bring convenience for consumers, but disrupt small economies and erode neighborhoods where services were previously provided at a local level.
As tech platforms expand the gig economy in a range of sectors, workers’ rights are weakened and companies circumvent labour rights through out-of-date legislation.
Despite journalists continuing to produce quality work, the inequitable and skewed distribution of media by big tech platforms creates polarized public debates.
From invisible work and challenges with software, to the dependency on tech giants for essential public infrastructure. What are the costs, when we – schools, pupils, and public institutes, go online?
Building a citizen centered digital public space
How do we create a digital spaces where communities can take center stage ? Where people can enjoy privacy and which provide safe and democratic digital environments; spaces which are free from surveillance capitalism and extractive systems.
We need to create ecosystems which include public infrastructures and digital commons. We need to transition to diverse ownership models geared towards local economies, regenerating and sharing wealth rather than extracting it. For this pluralist economy to function public policies should actively co-create other ecosystems instead of just fixing market failures. This requires imagination and vision that goes beyond the need to regulate markets.
A European digital public space cannot be established without substantial public investment into both large-scale European level infrastructures, as well as incubation of smaller initiatives that will populate this ecosystem. Public tech funds and incubators are two key strategies to achieve that. Here we list the main proposals and other resources.