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[ATHENA] Wed. 30, 2pm, Commons in Tension, 6th session of the GDKI seminar at EPFL

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  • From: Simon Dumas Primbault <simon.dumasprimbault AT>
  • Subject: [ATHENA] Wed. 30, 2pm, Commons in Tension, 6th session of the GDKI seminar at EPFL
  • Date: Mon, 28 Mar 2022 18:04:11 +0200

Dear all,

The College of Humanities and the Laboratory for the History of Science and Technology are pleased to invite you to the sixth session of Pierre Mounier’s monthly seminar on Governing Digital Knowledge Infrastructures.

Wed. 30 Mar. 2022, 2-4pm, EPFL room INN 128 and Online, registration compulsory (see below)

Commons in Tension: On the hybrid governance of Wikipedia, and other digital knowledge commons

In 1990, the American economist Elinor Ostrom proposed a novel take on the collective administration of common goods understood as natural or cultural resources shared by a community of stakeholders with equal interests. Neither private nor public, the commons require specific forms of governance that involve stakeholders in the making, enforcing, and debating the regulations that frame their use. Therefore, commons are not solely a particular type of good but generate specific forms of collective action that hold together their communities.
        Knowledge, particularly in a digital context, can be understood as a non-rival cultural commons, thereby raising the issue of its production, administration, and protection. The birth and development of Wikipedia in the 2000s and 2010s is the paradigmatic example of a digital knowledge infrastructure whose self-organized community ensures users access to an encyclopedic commons. However, beyond rhetorics of openness, horizontality, adhocracy, transparency, and collaboration, studies have shown how Wikipedia is an ambivalent object, oscillating between “inclusionism” and “deletionism”, between forceful principles and the renegotiation of rules, between “invisibilized” ideological stances (Tkacz), or in a “dialectical tension” between regulation and involvement (Joubert). The Wikipedia “miracle” (Cardon) would thrive on contradictions of all kinds.
        Taking Wikipedia as a starting case study–i.e., one possible instantiation of knowledge as commons–we will discuss with 
Mélanie Dulong de Rosnay (director of the Centre Internet et Société) the legal, social, epistemological, and ideological issues raised by the governance of the commons. Extending to other digital infrastructure beyond Wikipedia, we will also pay attention to other forms of knowledge production involving such governance models of the commons–albeit in more subtle and hybrid ways–and whether “structuring tensions” are indeed a sustainable form of governance in a digital context.

Wed. 30 March 2022, 2-4pm CET
Hybrid setup: EPFL, INN 128 (
registration compulsory here) and online (email simon.dumasprimbault AT to get the Zoom link)


  • Joubert, L. (2019). “Le parfait wikipédien. Réglementation de l’écriture et engagement des novices dans un commun de la connaissance (2000-2018),” Le Mouvement Social 268, p. 45-60. (Eng. trans. available on demand)
  • Dulong de Rosnay, M. and Stalder, F. (2020). “Digital commons,” Internet Policy Review 9(4).
  • Dulong de Rosnay, M. (2021) “Open Access Models, Pirate Libraries and Advocacy Repertoires: Policy Options for Academics to Construct and Govern Knowledge Commons,” Westminster Papers in Communication and Culture 16(1), p.46-64.

  • [ATHENA] Wed. 30, 2pm, Commons in Tension, 6th session of the GDKI seminar at EPFL, Simon Dumas Primbault, 03/28/2022

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