Version 3.2_September 2016

Academic Special Session: Infrastructure and organisational patterns for socio-technical commons

Event large 4b8aa978adbb7c8e80151f5a83c6782a12e763374ae3a042a55e7e626a64d93b

As commoning practices become part of mainstream conversations on forms of social organisation, cultivating the right conditions for a thriving commons still presents unresolved challenges and underdocumented territory. Participatory infrastructure is not neutral, and minimal infrastructure - digital, legal and financial - is often required to support the co-production process of a shared resource. The choice of infrastructure exercises a strong influence on group participation patterns. As Lawrence Lessig put it: "The governance is embedded in the code."

Based on an assumption of infrastructural access, as commons networks become increasingly distributed and decentralised the question of equal involvement across digital spaces takes the foreground. Holding shared assets such as trademarks, domain names, data or financial resources often introduces the need for a legal entity. When mistrust of existing financial and legal forms abounds, how can we approach this need and with what consequences?

How, collectively, can we navigate these questions to iterate on infrastructure towards forms simultaneously more fair and freely available, more open yet protective and synergistically leverage the potential of the commons?

In this session we will discuss hands-on knowledge from communities, focusing on organisational patterns as they relate to digital, legal, financial and communications infrastructure. Taking stock of best practices and embrionary experiences, we aim to identify concrete tools for fostering participation and better means of documenting, sharing and replicating these cultural practices.