Ostrom’s first basic principle of a commons is inclusivity: its rules ought to be designed and agreed by all its members, not monopolised by single interests. The majority of interests should be represented at all levels of governance and protocol setting. Inclusivity is essential to trust by the members in their relationships with each other.
Failure to be inclusive or to eradicate partisan or monopolising interests will undermine the essential ingredients of the Data Commons: that it is high trust and for the common good. If state sector operational interests or big business interests were to design the rules of the road for data reuse and sharing, they would be very different than if NGOs or citizens were represented. We are already seeing the effects of that. By the same token, if research and scientific interests were to hold the pen, then operational or entrepreneurial interests would likely be squashed or subsumed in ways which were counterproductive.
Since the main challenge is forming high-trust relationships across multiple different interests, there is a need to enable co-stewardship to allow those interests to have a voice, to have access, and to receive value from the commons.