Sub-theme 8. Opportunities and challenges of digital commons
Digital Commons and Social Movements: Understandings from the feminism
This panel aims to introduce reflections on digital commons and their relationship with social movements through their collective actions based on digital practices of collaboration and participation. For the analysis, the case of Mexican feminism at the end of 2019 was used, studied through digital ethnography.
Considering that David Bollier in his work “Think like a commoner” (2014), mentions that the three elements of the commons are: a resource + a community + management rules. This study defined that social movements are a community that collectively manages information resources under rules of sharing, collaboration, and collective participation. These information resources (such as Wikipedia, Wikimedia Commons, Internet Archive, and open educational resources under a Creative Commons license) would be used for various purposes such as to exercise offensive, defensive actions, preserve their memory, reinforce collective identity, educate, and train its members.
It was concluded that social movements in the digital age are characterized by the expansion, creation, transfer and exchange of information, and their collective actions are strengthened under the model of the commons, because it facilitates coordination, cohesion and social participation by sharing, consult, use, reuse and create content freely, collectively, and collaboratively.
The findings will contribute to the study of digital commons in the social movement field by presenting an analysis focused on the role of information as a common.
1. Digital Commons in the Mexican feminist movement
National Autonomous University of Mexico, México
This paper will present the digital commons in the study case of the Mexican feminist movement at the end of 2019, investigated through digital ethnography.
In order to identify the digital commons of the Mexican feminist movement, it was studied its information resources (how is the information they use); its digital practices (what they do with the information); and its collective actions and organization in digital networks (how they use the information for their strategies).
The empirical study characterized the diversity of information resources –types, formats, and diverse contents– used by the Mexican feminist, some of these were used under Creative Commons license on Wikipedia, Wikimedia Commons, and Internet Archive. Moreover, the research identified that depending on the objective to achieve they preferred to use some digital resources instead of others.
The study concludes that social movements in the digital age are characterized by the expansion, creation, transfer and exchange of information, and their collective actions are strengthened under the model of the commons, because it facilitates self-organization, coordination, cohesion and social participation by sharing, consult, use, reuse and create content freely, collectively, and collaboratively.
These findings provide new insights to discuss in what way digital commons offer to social movements an alternative model of collective organization and how collective actions can be based on the use of digital commons.
2. From social dilemma to social panacea: Openness in natural and digital commons
1Arizona State University, USA, 2Purdue University, USA
Openness in natural resource and digital knowledge commons is a concept that receives divergent scholarly attention. Natural resource commons (NRC) scholars view openness as a governance issue that requires intervention in order to mitigate resource appropriation and to ensure distribution of, investment in, and benefits from the resource are fair and equitable. In contrast, scholars consider open access in digital knowledge commons (DKCs) as evidence of fair and equitable access, and they view DKC resources as nonsubtractable requiring limited investment and governance intervention. This DKC panacea thinking is further amplified by (1) U.S. and EU-developed FAIR principles which prioritize users with the resources and skills to apply computationally-intensive analytical tools; and (2) a research focus in DKC studies on high-income country elites embedded in a system that provides fair and equitable access. We argue that viewing DKCs as fundamentally different than NRCs ignores the fact that ensuring distributional justice, fairness issues, and a balance among investments in and benefits from resources is equally important in DKCs. To illustrate these similarities and the need to investigate DKC governance systems, we conduct a comparative literature review of NRC and DKC case studies to determine how openness, equity, and fairness are addressed and juxtapose this information to an extant discussion about these principles in the social/environmental justice and philosophy literature. Our findings provide insights that are useful to commons scholars, practitioners, and policymakers.
3. Designing for Multiple Centers of Power: A Taxonomy of Multi-level Governance in Online Social Platforms
1Rutgers University, USA, 2University of Washington, USA, 3UC Davis, USA
Many have criticized the centralized and unaccountable governance of prominent online social platforms, leading to renewed interest in governance that incorporates multiple centers of power. Decentralized power can arise horizontally, through parallel communities each with local administration, as well as vertically, through multiple levels of jurisdiction. Drawing from literature from organizational theory, federalism, and polycentricity on analogous offline institutions, we characterize the landscape of existing platforms through the lens of multi-level governance, allowing us to describe how a variety of platforms, including Reddit, Twitter, and YouTube, incorporate decentralization. In particular, we examine how local governance centers, or middle levels such as subreddits, Twitter blocklists, and YouTube channels, interact with one another and with a centralized governance system above and end users below. As not all aspects of offline institutions translate online, we discuss challenges unique to online governance and conclude with implications for decentralized governance design in online social platforms.
Working paper: https://arxiv.org/abs/2108.12529