What is Customer Commons?

Customer Commons’ mission is to restore the balance of power, respect and trust between individuals and organizations that serve them, and does not take contributions from commercial entities.

Customer Commons began as a spin-off of ProjectVRM at Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University, and is anchored in a respect for the customer as an independent actor and a sovereign individual who ideally (for every actor in the marketplace) operates at full agency, with control over his or her choice of identifiers (or wish to remain anonymous), personal data, desires and intentions. Customer Commons also holds that an individual must be able to proffer his or her own terms of engagement, in ways that are practical and easy to understand by both sides—and to agree to, in ways that can be visited and audited later.

Customer Commons believes free customers are more valuable than captive ones—to themselves, to the companies they deal with, and to the whole economy.

What We Do

As a public-facing organization focused on emerging issues at the intersection of empowered customers and the public good, Customer Commons seeks to both educate and inspire change for customers worldwide. We do this through research, educational initiatives, events, and promotion of customer-side tools.

Customer Commons meets customers where they naturally are, while offering a way forward that demonstrates practical alternatives. Our work is grounded in research exploring public attitudes toward customer relationships with vendors, online and offline. We also research solutions under development, seeking to understand, present and advocate viable approaches. This information supports the development of new tools and methods while also informing the larger Internet policy conversation and our vision of an empowered individual in the context of a healthy and dynamic market-based system.

All of Customer Commons’ programs reflect values of truly transparent and flexible methods for individuals to maintain their unique voices in relationship to other entities in the marketplace. Therefore, we support technological approaches that are primarily personal, not social, designed from the outset to help customers clearly express their own intent. Our work will help customers engage in equal and open relationships that do not lock them to a single set of solutions. We believe the market will support independent customers. With truly engaged customers, businesses, governments and institutions of all kinds will have countless more willing hands, heads and hearts to solve the problems of our world, while creating prosperity for all.

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