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About The Commonplace

The Commonplace is a space where people discuss the digital infrastructure and policies needed to distribute, constellate, and amplify knowledge for the public good.

Published onMar 30, 2020
About The Commonplace

The Knowledge Futures Group (KFG) is committed to building and sustaining open infrastructure for public knowledge that puts researchers in control of the tools they use everyday to solve society’s biggest challenges. Our newest product, Commonplace, is a publication that invokes the title’s Latin roots of locus communis to create a space where people discuss the digital infrastructure and policies needed to distribute, constellate, and amplify knowledge for the public good.

Commonplace brings together mission-aligned individuals, institutions, and organizations to contribute to the larger conversation about the many social implications of open and closed infrastructure: the distributed and centralized systems that undergird our modern modes of information sharing and communication. We will pinpoint emergent practices and new ways of thinking that benefit everyone. The mission of Commonplace is thus to reflect a multitude of viewpoints around what the future of knowledge should look like toward collective action and broader advocacy. We will integrate our resources across the KFG and with our partners to bring people together, build infrastructure, and advocate for a more sustainable and collaborative process for ongoing knowledge creation and data stewardship. 

So, how do we do this?

How are knowledge infrastructures changing and how can we shape them for a shared future? By investigating, proposing, and interrogating what healthy knowledge futures can and should look like, we will open conversations toward action. Those conversations manifest and take shape right here. Commonplace will cultivate global voices to exchange views on the shared power of knowledge resources through circulating topics that span disciplines and industries:

Please comment on this document to propose additional relevant topics.

Commonplace pieces embed multimedia to harness the full potential of discursive collaboration in a digital space—from annotated documents, letters, and reading lists, to dynamic interview and syndication series. Ultimately, these publication serve as a timely meditation for untimely facts, facilitating an exploration into how the concept of openness has shaped our everyday, and where it remains most necessary to implement.

To publish within Commonplace, see further information on our Contribute page!

Chris Aldrich: Discussion is great and policy making is even better, but an effort like this is going to require lobbying infrastructure as well. How is that piece being handled?
Chris Aldrich: There are some interesting decentralized ways of doing this sort of thing now that don’t require the massive infrastructure and overhead as in the past. Libraries in conjunction with movements like A Domain of One’s Own could host hub sites that accept Webmentions from individual researcher’s websites to aggregate and archive content without the need for centralized publishers. An example of this can be seen in which allows website owners to practice the equivalent of academic samizdat on their own websites and publish to it using Webmention notifications.
Chris Aldrich: Mike Caulfield has some great resources, many of them creative commons or open licensed for these areas. Example: Web Literacy for Student Fact-Checkers
Benjamin Reinhardt: Perhaps more importantly data standards - machine readable units
Quincy Childs: Yes!
Benjamin Reinhardt: Open knowledge graphs - not just ontologies but ways to build human-understandable knowledge maps. I realize that’s vague
Chris Aldrich: The IndieWeb community has been building and iterating on lots of open web infrastructure over the past decade. This includes several W3C specifications to make the web more open and easier to use including a spec that allows different web platforms on different domain names to communicate between each other to decrease dependence on social media silos like Facebook and Twitter. I’m happy to help encourage some discussion around this.
Konrad Hinsen: I would like to suggest an additional topic: the epistemic opacity of complex rulesets. This includes the currently much-discussed difficulties with interpreting and/or explaining the outcomes of machine-learning predictions, but also the difficulty of understanding the behavior of complex software, even if the source code is publicly available. It even includes the pre-digital issue of complex bureaucratic rulesets that make their outcomes incomprehensible to the ordinary citizen. My own interest in this topic is mainly related to complex simulation software used in scientific research. For details, see But even in everyday life, most of us have probably been given "that's what the computer says" as the only explanation for a number or a decision.
Konrad Hinsen: That email address is unfortunately unreachable, it seems to be redirected to a members-only mailing list.
Catherine Ahearn: Thank you for pointing this out, it’s now fixed.
Konrad Hinsen:
Samuel J. Klein: What is the locus of sustenance? How do we tie this work to institutions defined around persistence, collective sustenance of sharing knowledge? Something like “freedomdefined” for “sustained” in this sense would be worthwhile.
Samuel J. Klein: I love this list — Privacy fees like a subpoint of data ethics, not the heading itself
c/o Laine: Hello. I find the text above as interesting from the perspective of an alternative thinker and owner-manager of a private Publishing House (an SME-company) from Sweden. For me, it is understandable that this organization uses open, discursive collaboration in a digital space. But- with this emphasis or hypothesis that information sharing is only shared or sharing with discursive thinking, the mission statement “The Commonplace community to help further our mission toward turning ideas into collective action” the community binds eventually itself to the current paradigm of science and it’s view of Reality and Human being. Being a philosopher- social scientist by education and an alternative thinker with my undiscussed proposal for a new paradigm of science (already as a student in Theoretical Philosophy at the University of Uppsala, 1974, in my 1. version (unmatured, but the grounding ideas were there) of PhD- thesis, the Mind- Soul entity uses another kind of thinking and “knowledge sharing”. Because of no interest locally and getting no financial backing to develop further the new paradigm, I did it slowly in my social science course papers, which were mostly put forward in Appendixes (in the last pro gradu- paper in Economic History in my long-term SINUS- project 1990- 2012 about the Swedish Health Care in the local county, I should have taken away these references to my own papers where developed the new paradigm- which I couldn’t and thus could not go further to ph-doctoral studies). Concerning the current global pandemic crises which have forced the global community to the both nearly existential and economic “corner” (as a kind of negative input), I see it from a positive perspective too- IF we understand that behind the everyday behaviours and values of today, there is a common, basic paradigm of science or “ontological axiomatics”, on which we have built our pieces of knowledge, values, organizations and visions. THUS, maybe “the afterwork” of this pandemic crises opens the discussion of my new, more abstract paradigm, which includes the nowadays one as a partial only of the new, concerning the physical dimension of Reality. I am aware that as a generalist and new in many subject areas of science which I have put forward my new, alternative ideas- intuitively- such as in Physics, Biology, Economy- I cannot put forward profound professor kind of learning and references (as put to the social-economic marginals in the society where I live in the Nordic countries). My generalist abilities are in abstraction and philosophic conceptualisation. - Concerning the Economic Theory, I have thus put forward f.e. a new Value theory- during my studies in Socialanthropology, when found that former thinkers- such as Karl Marx and Talcott Parsons were interested in the perspective of the Society as a kind of totality; thus my interest to unite the axiomatic Economic Theory with the science of Economic Anthropology which does research how people actually “economics” by f.e. social practices. In the same studies, I lifted the abstraction level of the famous social anthropologists, R.A. Rappaport, in his book “Pigs for the Ancestors” to the many-dimensional view of the Ecology theory on the ground of his research findings of the Nature people in the New Guinea. As for the current pandemic crises, IF the new paradigm had been discussed, developed further, collectively in the world, we could have today much better tools to handle this crisis: new Economy theory, new solidarity thinking, based on the new sciences, with new views of Human being and thus on new values and behaviours- those which people worldwide now show intuitively in many cases. THUS the pandemic crises of Covid19 has lifted up to the “surface level of the knowledge” those inputs which were concealed below- “underwater”, put there by the current paradigm and it’s learned thinkers, politicians, elites. HOW long the Covid19 works can possibly depend now on us- are we opening to the perspective that maybe we and thus our knowledges today- are only at the beginning on the lift to a new cultural evolutionary level, and that could possibly be done better with the new, more abstract paradigm. - Thank you for being able to discuss here and put forward my thoughts. Lasse T Laine, philosopher- social scientist, entrepreneur, writer, Uppsala, Sweden. My e-books (mostly in Swedish, two factual- science kind in English) at my preliminary website and