Data commoning in practice: on how (or not) to communalise smart cities, smart grids, and online advertisement

Seminar and workshop series on data commons

Recent contributions in the scholarly literature and in legal-political practice draw attention to the notion of ‘data commons’. The concept of commons refers to particular governance models for the management of a (set of) resources. Data commons seem to have some sort of collective or communal character, which is for some (mainly) derived by the character of the resource under consideration (data). Others argue that its character as a ‘common’ is determined by the political values scholars or the members of the community have.

What the notion of data commons at least suggests is the possibility to regulate or govern data in a way moving beyond market or state – the traditional methods to govern the use of resources. The language of commons, in other words, promises a governance model wherein members of the commons (commoners) determine themselves how the resource should be used, often in democratic and bottom-up ways. There are various explanations of this recent rise in popularity to connect data with commoning. The series and explanations are explored more deeply in the extended programme, which is available for dowload below.

The programme

The four seminars and four workshops combined can be seen as a long conversation about the nature, relevance, and importance of data commoning in various societal domains. During the seminar and workshop series, the aim is to explore the notion of the data commons in two related but different ways:

  • The organisation of four seminars wherein domain experts reflect on the relationships between their domain and the notion of data commons.

  • The organisation of four workshops wherein invited participants get the opportunity to present (short) draft papers and receive commentary.


More information about the organisers is found in the programme document below.

Gijs van Maanen is the main organiser of this series. The following individuals and related institutions are involved in this initiative: Prof. Nadya Purtova, Dr. Jörg Pohle, Dr. Michiel de Lange and Dr. Erna Ruijer


Gijs van Maanen is being funded and part of Nadya Purtova’s INFO-LEG project funded by ERC (StG 716971). INFO-LEG is a research project looking to improve legal protection of people against harms associated with automated processing of information (‘information-induced harms’). It aims to achieve this by studying information and how it relates to people from the perspectives of law, economics, and information studies.

Download the extended programme