Universiteit Leiden

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VVI Research Meeting 2023-2024

Data governance: from open governmental data, to data commons

  • Gijs van Maanen (speaker); Matthew Canfield (Chair/discussant)
Thursday 30 May 2024
Kamerlingh Onnes Building
Steenschuur 25
2311 ES Leiden

From the communication of open data, to the promotion of collective data governance, data is at the very center of much governmental policy. Drawing from research on Dutch open data policies and recent EU-policy discussions on data commons, Gijs van Maanen will reflect on the question of what it means to govern data in the 21st century. He will firstly discuss the philosophical underpinnings of many attempts to foster societally beneficial goals through the opening up of governmental data-sets. He argues that the communicating of data (or information) by itself is conceptually and practically insufficient. Instead of relying on the data disseminated by proactive governmental bodies, recent EU policy discussions have relocated the responsibilities of good data governance to societal actors. From data commons to data cooperatives, new and different types of entities are imagined to be the drivers of data-fueled societal change. Through an analysis of the philosophical-economic background of especially the idea of the ‘commons’, Van Maanen sheds light on for what kind of problems collective data governance proposals like commons are most appropriate (or not). Tying both parts together, Van Maanen concludes that both open data and data commons have the tendency to confuse (or replace) means (data) and ends (goods; values). The tendency to pay insufficient attention to how the governance of data is supposed to bring about certain societal benefits often results in the mere reproduction of the status quo due to the fact that the problem to be solved is rarely reducible to data. 


Dr. Gijs van Maanen is assistant professor at the Tilburg Institute for Law, Technology, and Society (TILT). His research interests range from data governance, political theory, political economy, to science and technology studies. 

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