Digital Commons

What’s the project about?

As a think tank and civil society organisation, Commons network has been working on Digital Commons and sustainable knowledge management for 10 years, and has a rich international network of thinkers, academics, policymakers and practitioners on the subject. In our Transition workshops, we explore models for the new economy and provide tools and insights for governments and civil society.

Commons Network is working with the Ministry of Internal Affairs on the Digital Commons Transition Collaboratory in 2024. The main question is clear: what are Digital Commons and how can government relate to them?


In the Digital Commons Transition Collaboratory we develop ideas with partners, build bridges between research, society and policy, and work together towards a sustainable digital transition. The Transition Collaboratory is partly an exploration of possible policy directions and partly knowledge and network building where we also want to contribute to the broader societal conversation.

Explainers: Accessible 5-pagers in which we concisely discuss the building blocks of Digital Commons and Digital Public Infrastructure, and the possible role(s) of government, using appealing examples.

Read the first explainer or download here:

Read the second explainer or download here:

Read the third explainer or download here:

Read the fourth explainer or download here:

Newsletters: We accompany the process through the monthly Digital Commons newsletter, in which we look back at previous steps, share Explainers and make announcements of upcoming events. Are you interested? Sign up to the newsletter by sending an email to .

Policy recommendations briefings: We incorporate the insights from the research and from the discussions and workshops with experts and ministries into a series of policy recommendations briefings, in which we elaborate on ideal types and funding policy conditions, and the relationship with existing legal and regulatory frameworks.

Workshops and Conferences

‘Take Back the Internet’ Public Spaces conference

Digital Commons practice: how do we tackle it? During this talk, we delved into the nitty gritty of Digital Commons practices. What do Digital Commons look like? What characterises them? How do they contribute to a transformation where communities are at the helm? And how can we design our digital infrastructures to contribute to self-determination and democratic practice? With four guests from academia, civil society, business and government, we discussed how building blocks of the commons such as collective ownership, democratic governance and collaboration are taking shape while addressing the main challenges and opportunities through various practical examples.

Panel: Digital Commons to Realize Europe’s Digital Ambitions. On day one of the Public Spaces conference we co-hosted a panel on how Digital Commons can help Europe realise its digital ambitions around autonomy, privacy and transparency. If Europe is to be digitally sovereign, digital infrastructure must be based on shared, public values. To achieve this, Europe needs to invest differently. But does Europe really feel like doing that? Or are European citizens satisfied with what Big Tech currently offers? And if Europe is investing heavily, what and how should it invest in public digital infrastructures and tools?

The panel shone light on these questions through a conversation with representatives of concrete initiatives and projects such as citizens’ movement ‘People vs Big Tech’, the initiative openDesk, and the Digital Commons project we are implementing with the Ministry of the Interior, alongside professor of Innovation Francesca Bria who, previous to the panel, delivered a critical keynote.

NGI Commons Workshop & Mozilla Festival

In the beginning of July, we had the pleasure to participate in the NGI Commons Workshop and the Mozilla Festival. Director Sophie Bloemen contributed to a Mozilla Fest panel on Digital Commons. Sophie and Commons Network researcher Ayoub participated together in the NGI Commons Workshop, where CRNS, Open Forum Europe and Open Future presented and discussed their interim findings from research on digital commons with participants.

We are delighted to find out about the flurry of activity surrounding the Digital Commons. Of particular interest to participants of these events is finding appropriate governance and business models for the Digital Commons, as well as exploring the role of government.

Expert Workshop: EDIC for Digital Commons

Public meeting April 25: Building Digital Commons – towards a shared, collaborative and sovereign internet. Sophie Bloemen (Commons Network) and Koos Steenbergen (Ministry of Internal Affairs) will talk with Daphne Muller, of the successful open source collaborative platform Nextcloud, with Fabrizia Benini, on the European Digital Commons NGI project and Aik van Eemeren, strategist of digital innovation at Gemeente Amsterdam. Starts at 3:00 PM The Hague.

Project lead: Sophie Bloemen

Run time: January 2024 – Present

Other resources:

Our work on Humans of Digital Transformation

Our publication on the need for generative interoperability to build public and civic digital spaces.

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