The case for the digital commonsCOVID-19 highlighted and accelerated the centrality of digital technology in our lives. Yet the digital ecosyste...

The case for the digital commonsCOVID-19 highlighted and accelerated the centrality of digital technology in our lives. Yet the digital ecosyste...The case for the digital commons

COVID-19 highlighted and accelerated the centrality of digital technology in our lives. Yet the digital ecosystem is one of the most unequal and dysfunctional aspects of our collective lives. How can we build a digital ecosystem that ensures broadly shared participation and prosperity?

While state-driven ecosystems in places like China and India and the private sector-driven ecosystems in much of the West have some significant accomplishments, neither has managed to achieve the combination of broad democratic accountability and meaningfully distributed opportunity that was core to the equitable economic growth of democracies in the 20th century.

As highlighted by the work of the Global Future Council on the New Agenda for Economic Growth and Recovery, there is a need to actively design for shared democratic values across the market structures and governance models that drive today's technology development. We argue that shifting our view to see technology infrastructure as a digital commons could point the way forward for an inclusive and sustainable ecosystem with shared social benefit. This framework has emerged from the study and practice of successful community-based resource sharing, and was at the core of the original conception of the “Intergalactic Computer Network” that evolved the internet.