PubHubs
PubHubs PubHubs

PubHubs has started

PubHubs is the name for a new Dutch community network, based on public values. PubHubs stands for Public Hubs. It is open and transparent and protects data of the network’s participants. PubHubs aims to connect people, in different hubs, such as your family, sports club, school class, museum, local library, neighborhood, or municipality. In each such hub, a relevant part of one’s own identity plays a role. PubHubs focuses on reliable information, if necessary with digital signatures, and on trusted communication, if necessary with guarantees of the identity of participants.

This video, in Dutch but with English subtitles, provides a good picture of PubHubs' set-up and state of affairs, at that moment. The video was recorded during the PublicSpaces conference of May 17 and 18, 2022. For further information, see also the subsequent round table discussion about PubHubs.


PubHubs' starting point is a cooperation between two professors in the digital world: José van Dijck and Bart Jacobs. They are both winners of the prestigious Spinoza and Stevin awards in 2021. They spend part of the prize on the development of PubHubs. The organisation Public Spaces, a cooperation between cultural and broadcasting organisations, is closely involved.

The PubHubs project started in november 2021 with the (open source) development of its own network based on Matrix. In addition, a PubHubs community is being formed to collect requirements and develop a governance infrastructure. The PubHubs’s focus is on parties with an active contribution to public values in the digital world. Do you, as individual or organisation, wish to contribute to PubHubs, or do you have questions. Feel free to contact us at the email address below.

PubHubs is happy to cooperate with people and groups who give prominence to the public good in the digital world, who are transparant, work with open source software, who wish to not just “take” but also “bring”. To make PubHubs useful for different communities requires translation of the expectations and wishes of different communities in order to incorporate them into PubHubs.

This translation will be partially technical and partially organisational. People who like to contribute can best do so from their own existing role and environment. Do you have interest / knowledge / skills, for example in the domain of design, interaction or programming, do let us know, via the contact email address given below. Please include a short description of yourself, of your skills, and of the organisation you wish to join from.

PubHubs will consist of different hubs / communities, organised and administered by the participating organisations. For example, a public broadcasting organisation or a museum can form their own hub, but also a library, a hospital or a university / school kan host its own PubHubs hub. Within a hub such an organisation can set up things in their own preferred manner, so that visitors of the hub can meet each other in different rooms. There can be access requirements for such a room, where, for example, a visitor has to prove they’re a student / teacher, or that they’re a member of a library. After supplying proof of identity (authentication) they can join the room. There can also be public rooms where anyone can join.

PubHubs will have a central login. Once logged in, as a user, you can easily move between hubs. In every hub a user will have a different pseudonym, so events in one hub are disconnected from events within other hubs.

Technically hubs will be Matrix homeservers hosted by participating organisations themselves (or by a specialised hosting company). The organisational structure to realise this, is still under development.

Only in 2023 will PubHubs be available for broader use. Before that we will run pilot projects with a few closely involved (technical) partners.

There are currently no vacancies within PubHubs.

PubHubs is still in its preparatory phase, where there is not yet a publicly accessible network. Programming work is being done to set-up the infrastructure (open source, soon), for now focussing on logging in. This development work is being done at the Radboud Universtity, by more than five people, within the research group iHub. Bart Jacobs is in the lead. Funding is available for the next five years, through his Stevin prize.

At the same time we are exploring the future governance of PubHubs, where we are in contact with several parties, acting as a sounding board. Here José van Dijck is in the lead.

Do you, or your organisation, wish to contribute to PubHubs or do you have any questions?

Feel free to contact us at contact@pubhubs.net

Or subscribe to the newsletter (in dutch).

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