The future will be networked. Ubiquitous digital connection and the capture and analysis of ever-more data will transform our built environment, create new models of governance, and disrupt and reshape business models and sectors. In the process, the ‘whole of society will have become a single office and a single factory’, generating immense economic value and power.

Who reaps the benefit of a networked society will be a key political question. If data is a key resource of the future, and it is socially produced, a new ‘social’-ism could be possible in the 2020s, through democratic ownership of our collective data. As Stafford Beer, designer of the visionary cybernetic system Project Cybersyn, said, ‘information is a national resource’. Moreover, a world of ubiquitous real-time data could help create fundamentally different models of production and distribution. Building a democratic and open data infrastructure is therefore a challenge for progressives akin to delivering the physical infrastructure of the 19th century and the welfare state of the 20th.