Social media and sharing economy platforms do not only disrupt industries. They also bypass democratic institutions. That’s not without risk, because the dominant Silicon Valley based online platforms are designed to create shareholder value, not to strengthen society or democracy. Which is unfortunate, because online platforms – if designed to that purpose – can be uniquely power full tools for organising our networked society.

In Amsterdam over 90 neighbourhood networks use online platforms for self organisation. This development accelerated from 2010 on. The networks aim at strengthening social ties and local initiatives and are increasingly involved in some way of democratic innovation. This study is a deep dive into this urban bottom-up-movement. It puts the phenomena of online neighbourhood platforms in a broader societal and economical context. It points at the importance of user owned platforms and data. And it draws conclusions on how society and specifically municipal management can bring this movement to a next level. Ultimately with the potential of growing into an alternative for the Silicon Valley owned online platform ecosystem.

The author Ruurd Priester is Research Fellow at the Citizen Data Lab. He is a digital strategist formerly working for leading global digital design and marketing agencies. He started this study in 2015. This first comprehensive publication is in Dutch. An English translation is planned in the second half of 2017. You can reach Ruurd via

The publication: