Mapping for the Commons Manifesto

Mapping for the Commons
A Manifesto (0.3)

Civic practitioners around the world display countless projects on diverse thematic maps or OpenStreetMap. They record the vast diversity of local adaptations to climate change. They showcase alternative economies – from food production to hackerspaces. They map the spots where people care for each other and for the future. And they care about controling their own data, because they understand the need for free crowdsourced content.

This manifesto is based on the experiences of distributed mapping activities. It promotes patterns of Mapping for the Commons. These patterns help avoid the various traps we have learned
to master during our collaborations. They condensate the insights of initiatives which build and maintain a globally shared mapping commons.


1. Stick to your common goal

Discuss your common goals again and again. And again! Everybody involved should feel in syntony with commonly agreed upon goals at any time.

2. Put community first
Do whatever possible to make your community grow and thrive. For a successful map-commons, a reliable community is more important than anything else. Care for all those who might support you when you most need it.

3. Focus on people’s needs
Maps can make power relations and policy-driven agendas visible. Make sure your map doesn’t feed power-imbalances. Let people’s needs trump desires of institutions, donors or clients.

4. Separate commons and commerce
Mapping for the commons is different from producing services or products to compete on the map-market. Strive for coherence and make sure you learn how to systematically [Separate Commons and Commerce to make it work for the Commons separate commons from commerce]. If you don’t you will find your common goal corrupted, somewhen.

5. Keep an eye on interoperability
Mapping for the commons entails contributing to a Global Federated Commons. Dialogue with other mappers and take their needs and concerns into account. In short: focus on interoperability.

6. Contribute to or develop open taxonomies
An open taxonomy allows your peer mappers and end users to search it for a concept or to link it -via tag- to a parent category. If you allow for, even tag structures of different taxonomies can be merged. A taxonomy as an entry point to complex social worlds is always incomplete. The more we learn about these worlds the better our taxonomies can be adjusted.

7. Document transparently
Sharing your learnings and failures is a key factor in allowing others to replicate, join and contribute to the commons. Don’t leave it for after, do it often and make sure it is readable by others. You might use an etherpad, a wiki or even a permanent chat like riot or rocket.

8. Be coherent
Eat your own dogfood!

9. Crowdsource what you can
Sustain your project whenever you can and for whatever is needed - money, time, knowledge, storing space, hardware or monitoring – through your community. Stay independent!


10. Use open web technology
Open technology standards, if possible in federated environments, ensure your map, its data and associated applications can be reused on diverse media and devices. Rely on them. Always! Avoid getting dependent on proprietary tools.

11. Link to WikiData and OpenStreetMap
Don’t maintain your single data set. Contribute as much as possible to already existing data commons. Make them thrive.

12. Use free software tools at all levels
This is paramount, as it is not about the freedom of the software, but about your freedom to further develop your mapping projects according to your own needs.


13. Self-host your infrastructure
You need collaboration and autonomy in the building up of infrastructure and services. Therefore, choose technology which allows to be replicated quickly, and enables you to easily iterate and improve your self-hosted infrastructures.

14. Own your data
In the short run, it seems to be a nightmare to refrain from importing data for geolocation or to copy and paste what you are not legally entitled to. In the long run, it is the only way to prevent you being sued or your data being enclosed. Remember: the real nightmare is to loose your data all together.

15. Use free data licenses
What is in the Commons must remain in the Commons. Hence, to own your data is important, but not enough. Make sure nobody dumps your common data back into the world of marketization and enclosures. Use free licenses to protect your collective work as a commons.

16. Develop innovative legal forms
Innovative legal forms help to prevent cooptation. Make sure the resulting maps own themselves instead of being owned by any specific person or organization.


17. Remember always why you are making the map and who you are making it for.
Everyone is a mapmaker. Share what you can and if everything looks dark: take a break, keep calm and continue commoning.

18. Archive the map when it doesn’t work anymore for you.
Others might want to build on it, somewhen.


How did this Manifesto come about?
The first versions were produced by @commonify based on an initial summary by @almereyda
of raw discussion and workshop notes at Commons Space during the World Social Forum in Montreal in August 2016. You’ll find earlier versions here.

Why is this Manifesto necessary?
Find some answers here:

All mappers can use this manifesto as a guideline or checklist to
assess the „commonness“ of their mapping project.



Manifestos of different form:


I just had an inspiring chat with @Tom and currently think, that this manifesto will have to evolve into something like Linked Data for the Commons Manifesto.

The editorial process now continues in , which may be interesting to @alabaeye too!

we are now up to version 0.5, now Charter instead of Manifesto - which is way better. certainly not forever but meanwhile accessible here:

A post was merged into an existing topic: Charter for Building a Data Commons for a Free, Fair and Sustainable Future

In Common published a nice charter based on this manifesto:

Wait: Someone reused our work?

Wait: Someone reused our work?

Interesting that they did not refer to the more up to date Charter for Building a Data Commons for a Free, Fair and Sustainable Future