Talk Abstracts – The Long now of the Commons – 17/10/2019, ITU

Here you can find the abstracts for the talks @ The Long Now of the Commons

Silke HelfrichFree, Fair and Alive: The Power of the Commons

The commons can be seen as an attitude, as a practice or as a worldview. Whatever understanding you prefer – it will open up new possibilities for change; reorient our language, our perceptions and our political strategies. It is widely accepted that the power of the commons can only be properly understood through the analysis of commoning, including its internal, interpersonal dynamics. Because the commons is not a certain type of resource, in the style of standard economics or a certain type of institution as the Ostrom framework suggests. Commons are living social processes. They rely on a whole set of human values and behaviors that the standard economic narrative regards as marginal. Silke Helfrich will introduce the Triad of Commoning with its three dimensions: social life, Provisioning through Commons and Peer Governance, challenging prevailing categories of thought and terms that belong “to a fading era”.


Alex Pazaitis  – Peer Production and State Theory: Envisioning a Cooperative Partner State

This essay examines the concept of the Partner State, as a new form of symbiosis between state and civil society, based on the principles and practices of Peer Production. The general stance of Peer Production advocates is almost intrinsically anti-state. However, state theory arguably reveals that the examination of the state and its institutions actually helps us understand the position and potentials of Peer Production. A tentative union between Hegelian and Gramscian thought delineates why and how the State can, and arguably should, embrace and support Peer Production. Finally, a tentative framework for these prefigurative institutions is offered by Open Cooperativism.


Mathieu O’NeilMapping the firm-project network

IT firms have embraced open source licenses and the ‘hacker ethic’ of self-fulfillment. In 2018, Google moved from Ubuntu to Debian; Microsoft bought GitHub, and IBM Red Hat; 85% of Linux code was produced by firm employees. Firms are paying the salaries of some developers but are also ‘free riding’ on the unpaid labour of others. Should benefits be shared, and what is the impact on projects? How can an invisible phenomenon be mapped? To answer, we track the commits made by firm employees to GitHub repositories and collect text featuring F/OSS project-firm co-locations in three IT news media. We then compare the two firm-project networks: financial connections and media representations.


Giacomo PoderiCaring about the commoners – Affect and long-term commitments to commoning

Nowadays, it is generally acknowledged that “there is no commons without commoning” and that commons portray ways of being in the world that are fairer, more sustainable and democratic than those provided by capitalist and neo-liberal ones. However, the practical challenges, the implications, and the meaning that ‘to keep commoning’ has for the commoners is largely neglected. This talk will focus on commoners’ long-term commitment to commoning practices and will address the affective and practical dimensions of maintaining such commitment over time. The talk is grounded on the empirical work conducted for an ongoing research project on the long-term sustainability of commoning practices.


Maurizio TeliCommoning and Participatory Design – a Love Story?

Commoning practices, intended as practices that nurture the entanglement of symbolic and material elements life on Earth relies upon and reproduces are becoming more and more widespread. In contemporary commoning practices, the assumption that humankind should democratically access what human beings share goes together with experimentation in new institutional forms. With these premises, the talk will discuss how participatory design, originated in the democratization of the workplace aside the introduction of new technologies, can provide commoners, the ones engaging with commoning practices, with approaches, concepts, and methods, capable of supporting commoning of technologies and through technologies. In conclusion, the talk will explore how a commoning-oriented conceptualization of love can strengthen the convergence of commoning and participatory design.


Mara FerreriCommoning for housing justice

Dwelling and home-making are core to individual and collective practices of social reproduction and belonging; yet, housing is increasingly experienced by many as a place of precarity and dispossession. Can commons theory help to imagine and initiate transformative practices for housing justice? In this contribution I will introduce key issues for thinking critically about housing as a commons, looking at material conditions, infrastructures, self-organisation, openness and long-term maintenance. To ground the discussion, I will draw upon my recent research into historical and contemporary examples of housing commoning and their material and symbolic legacy.


Anna SeravalliUrban commons: towards more democratic cities?

Urban commons are collaborative arrangements that can engage citizens, entrepreneurs, property owners, NGOs as well as city administrations, who get together to create, use and manage resources in cities. Urban commons entail new ways of caring for cities and citizens’ needs that enhance social relationships and can foster participatory forms of urban governance. Many cities around Europe are promoting urban commons as means for collaboratively managing the public good and for creating more inclusive and democratic cities. The talk discusses some of the challenges and opportunities of urban commons, focusing on both practical aspects of collaboration as well as broader governance questions.


Marcos GarciaCitizen labs as commons laboratories. Local and international approaches

Citizen laboratories are infrastructures that help to grow local commons and scale them up. Public institutions like libraries, schools, universities, museums, hospitals, parlaments, and research centers could also offer space for open experimentation and collaboration for the building of new commons. These commons laboratories can be connected internationally and build a network that becomes a counterweight to the global forces that destroy local life. In my presentation I would like to explore this proposal from the experience at Medialab Prado and the model of the citizen laboratory that we have experimented the last twelve years.

Program – The Long Now of the Commons – 17/10/2019, ITU

This is the event program for The Long Now of the Commons event!

You can find the abstracts of the talks on this page.


9.00    Opening & Welcome, by Lone Malmborg, Head of Digital Design Department

9.15-12.40 Morning session

9.15    Silke Helfrich – Founding member of Commons Strategies Group – Free, Fair and Alive: The Power of the Commons

10.00    Alex Pazaitis  – Tallinn University of Technology – Peer Production and State Theory: Envisioning a Cooperative Partner State

10.35    Coffee break

10.50    Mathieu O’Neil – University of Canberra – Mapping the firm-project network

11.25    Giacomo Poderi – IT University of Copenhagen – Caring about the commoners – Affect and long-term commitments to commoning

12.10    Discussion Panel

12.40    Lunch break

13.30-16.30 Afternoon session

13.30    Maurizio Teli – Aalborg University – Commoning and Participatory Design – a Love Story?

14.05    Mara Ferreri – University of Northumbria – Commoning for housing justice

14.40    Anna Seravalli – Malmö University – Urban commons: towards more democratic cities?

15.15    Break

15.30    Marcos Garcia – Medialab Prado, Madrid – Citizen labs as commons laboratories. Local and international approaches

16.05    Discussion Panel

16.30    Greetings & Closing


Attendance is free and open to everyone. To help with the logistic, please sign up here.

The event is organized by Giacomo Poderi (Department of Computer Science, IT University of Copenhagen) and Joanna Saad-Sulonen (Department of Digital Design, IT University of Copenhagen), and it is funded through the project grant 749353, of the H2020/MSCA-IF-2016 call. The event is hosted by the IT University of Copenhagen.


ALEX PAZAITIS is a core member of the interdisciplinary research collective P2P Lab, spin-off of the Ragnar Nurkse Department of Innovation and Governance, Tallinn University of Technology and of the P2P Foundation. He holds an MA in Technology Governance and is Junior Research Fellow and PhD candidate at the Ragnar Nurkse Department. Alex is a core team member of the COSMOLOCALISM project and has been involved in numerous research activities, including scholarly papers and research and innovation projects. He has professional experience in project management and has worked as a consultant for private and public organizations. His research interests include technology governance; innovation policy; digital commons; open cooperativism and distributed ledger technologies.

ANNA SERAVALLI is a senior lecturer and design researcher at The School of Arts and Communication Malmö University. She has a background as product and service designer and holds a PhD in Design and Social Innovation. Her research explores questions around alternative economics, participation and democracy in the urban context. She closely collaborates with citizens, NGOs, civil servants and small entrepreneurs in exploring new modes of production, participation and decision making in urban production and city making. She is the coordinator of Malmö University DESIS Lab.

GIACOMO PODERI is a Marie Curie postdoctoral researcher at the IT University of Copenhagen. His current project focuses on the sustainability of different commoning practices (e.g. urban, digital, knowledge commons) and takes particular interest at commoners’ long-term commitment. His research interests concern the interplay between society and Information and Communication Technology through the lenses of co-construction and participatory processes. More concretely, he is interested in the role that participation plays in mediating use, design, and development aspects of ICT. His latest publication is “Sustaining platforms as commons” in CoDesign 15(3).

MARA FERRERI is research fellow in Human Geography at the University of Northumbria. Until recently she held a Marie Curie postdoctoral fellowship at the Autonomous University of Barcelona, Spain (see: Her work on urban precarity, commons, housing and temporariness has been published in international journals such as Transactions of the IBG, cultural geographies and Geoforum. She is a founding editor of the open-access international Radical Housing Journal.

MARCOS GARCÍA is the artistic director of Medialab-Prado since 2014, an initiative of the Madrid City Hall, devised as a citizen laboratory for the production, research and dissemination of cultural projects that explores forms of experimentation and collaborative learning that have emerged with digital networks.From 2006 to 2013, he was in charge of coordination and programming at Medialab-Prado, alongside Laura Fernández. Previously, from 2004 to 2006, they set up the education programme of MediaLabMadrid, developing the cultural mediation programme and the Interactivos? project, a platform for production and research into the creative and educational applications of technology. Marcos has taken part in numerous international events about digital culture and the commons.

MATHIEU O’NEIL is Associate Professor in Communication at the University of Canberra and Adjunct Research Fellow in the School of Sociology at the ANU. His interests are the sociology of fields and controversies, social network analysis, and labour and organization studies. He is currently investigating waged and volunteer labour in F/OSS projects thanks to a grant from the Sloan Foundation. Mathieu’s research has been published in Social Networks, Information, Communication and Society, Réseaux, and Organization Studies, amongst others. In 2006 he contributed to the founding of the Virtual Observatory for the Study of Online Networks, a world leader in e-social science, and in 2010 he founded the Journal of Peer Production.

MAURIZIO TELI is Associate Professor at the Department of Planning, Aalborg University, Denmark. His research focuses on participatory design and commoning in relation to digital platforms. He has more than fifty publications, including the book “Beyond Capital: Values, Commons, Computing and the Search for a Viable Future” (co-authored with David Hakken and Barbara Andrews, Routledge, 2016) and the co-edited special issue of CoDesign – International Journal of CoCreation in Design and the Arts “Repositioning CoDesign in the age of platform capitalism: from sharing to caring” (with Gabriela Avram, Jaz Hee-jeong Choi, Stefano De Paoli, Ann Light, and Peter Lyle, 2019).

SILKE HELFRICH is an independent activist, author, scholar, and speaker. She cofounded the Commons Strategies Group and Commons-Institute, was former head of the regional office of Heinrich Böll Foundation for Central America, Cuba, and Mexico, and holds degrees in Romance languages/pedagogy and in social sciences. Helfrich is the editor and co-author of several books on the Commons, and she blogs at She lives in Neudenau, Germany