Cooperative Data Commons

Writer: Jack Smye; Reviewer: Charles Adjovu

We’re very excited here at Ledgerback to be taking on a new research project with an anticipated publish date in January 2021. In this essay, we will be looking at potential conceptualizations of democratic governance structures facilitating an interoperable data commons for decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs). And while our proposal goes into far more detail, in essence we will be analyzing this in two parts:

  1. the ways in which Web 3.0 technologies can utilize the collection and manipulation of data in an emancipatory manner, and

  2. how the organizations working in these fields can share and collectively manage this data in a way that honors the true socio-political nature of blockchain technology.

In this, we are hoping to present a way of envisioning the decentralized digital future that encapsulates how decentralization can play out in a non-localized manner — which is to say that we are trying to conceptualize how DAOs can interact with one another in a way that mimics the democratic governance structure of a blockchain.

Therefore, we posit that the collective management of data can serve as the ethereal layer that holds the decentralized interoperation of DAOs together, and that this collective management necessitates entirely new visions of a digital paradigm.

Help us investigate the formation of a Data Commons

If you enjoyed this article and you want to know more, please see the Supplementary Material section.

Additionally, please consider joining us (as a member or contributor) and investigating the formation of a democratized data commons.

Supplementary Material

Research Proposal

Data Proposal (1).docx

About LedgerbackØDCRC

Established in 2018, the Ledgerback Digital Commons Research Cooperative (LedgerbackØDCRC) is a nonprofit cooperative association and distributed p2p network for unifying the study of the internet and society and fostering collaboration between stakeholders to advance towards a global technological commonwealth.

Our research approach is an inter/cross-disciplinary approach, with the goal to eventually employ an anti/antedisciplinary approach as we continue to grow.

Global Technological Commonwealth

A global technological commonwealth (as summarized here) is a sociotechnical imaginary (i.e., a vision of the future) that “consists of post-capitalist society where communities of mutual interest cooperate in the construction of institutions of regenerative economic relations” [1]. The technological design principles include:

  • “incorporating planetary boundaries,

  • modelling on natural biological ecosystems,

  • enabling the redefinition of value,

  • enabling radically democratic coordination and governance, and

  • allowing for the growth of a cooperative commons as the desirable future” [1].

For more information on the global technological commonwealth (and to get some background), we recommend reading Dr. Sarah Manski’s article, Distributed Ledger Technologies, Value Accounting, and the Self Sovereign Identity.

Areas of Interest

Our areas of interest include, without limitation:

  1. Web 3 technologies (blockchain, pubs, secure scuttlebutt, fediverse, smart contracts, etc.)

  2. Collaborative economy (platform ecosystems, business models, platform capitalism, platform cooperativism, ownership economy, p2p/commons, digital labor, social contracts, etc.)

  3. Future of work (open value accounting, peer production, self-management practices, digital organizations, etc.)

  4. Digital Infrastructure (internet service providers, hardware, mesh networks, machine-to-machine economy, Internet-of-Things, etc.)

  5. Data science and ethical AI (AI/ML, human-in-the-loop AI, data analytics, algorithmic policy, algorithmic governance, etc.)

  6. Information privacy and security (data stewardship, cybersecurity, privacy-by-design, zero knowledge proof, cryptography, etc.)

  7. Knowledge Commons (notetaking tools, knowledge repositories, decision-making models, decision analysis, collective intelligence, swarm intelligence, EdTech, etc.)

  8. Metascience (open science, citizen science, science funding, bibliometrics, publishing, etc.)

  9. Personal Data or Digital Identity economy (data stewardship, data monetization, self-sovereign digital identity, decentralized identifiers, digital identity, decentralized identity, data privacy, data cooperatives, data trusts, etc.)

  10. Open Finance (e.g., alternative currencies, timebanking, community currencies, decentralized finance, prize-linked savings accounts)

  11. Complex systems (game theory, mechanism design, dynamic systems, simulation, etc.)

  12. Cryptoeconomics (bonding curves, cryptoprimitives, complex systems, peer prediction, schelling points, tokenization, etc.)

  13. Sustainability (circular economy, renewable energy, community-owned utilities, etc.)

  14. Science and Technology (how science and technology interact with society positively and negatively, and how the relationship between them can be changed for the social good)

Problem Statements

Some example problem statements we are investigating are described in the following articles:

Currently, LedgerbackØDCRC is run by volunteers (and we thank them for all their effort!).

Membership Benefits

Our primary stakeholders or intended beneficiaries of our membership are investigators (scholars, researchers, academics, activists, makers, technologists, etc.), practitioners, citizens, and our staff (the people who make LedgerbackØDCRC run!) .

The benefits we provide or plan to provide to our members includes:

  1. online portal (email included)

  2. cloud infrastructure and interactive computing infrastructure

  3. combining resources

  4. mapping, data analytics, knowledge tools

  5. grantwriting support

  6. fundraising support

  7. sharing experiences

  8. publishing support

  9. research assistance

  10. networking offline and online

  11. informing members of opportunities

  12. providing resources

We do not have a membership fee (no need to pay $2,500.00 to join our community) but we do have annual fees ($50.00/year or provide 40 hours of time to cooperative-directed activities) to keep the cooperative operational.

Join us via the form below or send an email to

Describing LedgerbackØDCRC

The LedgerbackØDCRC is best understood as multi-purpose cooperative (we don’t fall neatly into a category 😖) that can better be described by its functions (or really a mix of a foundation, ecosystem and a research institute):

  1. Research Institute: We produce original research (basic, applied, empirical) and analyses on the internet and society, formulate models, tools, and designs and practices, grow a body of knowledge on the internet and society with an emphasis on how to transition towards a global technological commonwealth, develop prototypes, open source software and proof-of-concepts, and run citizen science projects.

  2. Data Cooperative: We produce and analyze datasets, trends, and other areas of interest by collecting publicly available data or curating data from our members or participants in our projects, and offer our analyses and datasets to the general public and interested parties.

  3. Foundation: we support efforts to advance towards a global technological commonwealth, hosting events and workshops, hosting distributed communities, and acting as a host for the greater Ledgerback ecosystem.

  4. Observatory: We monitor progress among the many sociotechnical ecosystems

  5. Academy: We produce open source educational materials and help others find and take courses on the internet and society, and develop the skills needed to cause transformational change towards a global technological commonwealth.

  6. Distributed community: We work together with people all across the world online to build a knowledge commons and provide resources to those who need them.

Supporting the Ledgerback¤DCRC

You can support us in many different ways including:

  1. Becoming a member (best way to do it)

  2. Making a direct donation (donations are not tax deductible for now but we are working on it!)

  3. Getting involved with one of our cooperative research projects as an investigator or citizen

  4. Volunteering to help take on our core or administrative activities

  5. Connecting the LedgerbackØDCRC with other individuals and organizations working in similar areas

  6. Sending us your feedback on our articles, podcasts, and other media

  7. Mentioning to others who we are and what we are doing

  8. Taking our ideas and models and putting them into practice (with attribution 😆)

  9. Send us a message asking for problems to solve.