[CODATA-international] Digital Feudalism

Fraser Taylor FraserTaylor at Cunet.Carleton.Ca
Fri Oct 11 17:02:56 EDT 2019

This is not a new problem and there are too many examples of well meaning projects financed from the outside which rarely continue after the project has been completed. Even in the best circumstances when adequate descriptions of the project and associated data and metadata are documented, which as Ernie and others have pointed out is too rarely the case, the issue of effective continuity continues to be a challenge. My own experience suggests that a key element in improving the situation is meaningful national involvement and ownership of such projects from the outset including project formulation. If that process is not effective then few projects are likely to succeed. Lip service to local and national needs is not enough. Outside projects are often required to meet the needs of funding agencies in terms of reporting and time lines which too often are over relatively short time periods and can in some instances can ,in fact, do as much harm as good in terms of building long term local capacity.

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From: CODATA-international <codata-international-bounces at lists.codata.org> on behalf of Trimpact - Niek <niek at trimpact.nl>
Sent: Friday, October 11, 2019 1:12:22 PM
To: 'Ernie Boyko' <boykern at yahoo.com>; 'CODATA International' <codata-international at lists.codata.org>; 'Suchith Anand' <Suchith.Anand at nottingham.ac.uk>
Subject: Re: [CODATA-international] Digital Feudalism

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Dear all,

This is indeed a huge problem. I also recently learned that information data from NGOs are best perhaps shared with some ministries in Bamako, Mali, but not within a region where the work is being done. This implies that local decision makers remain dependant on the information/data stream back from the ministries which may take some months, if ever. This can never be the purpose of the work executed.

Since most of the projects are financed with public funding for the benefit of de people in the given (development) country and data/information belong in fact to the real funds provider of the work (i.e. tax payers), claims of intellectual property rights that data belong to the project executors seem not applicable. Consequently, data and other information (e.g. lessons learned) should be shared at large to the population and other relevant stakeholders to avoid duplication of efforts.

A discussion worthwhile to be continued.

Kind regards,

Dr. Niek van Duivenbooden

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Van: CODATA-international <codata-international-bounces at lists.codata.org> Namens Ernie Boyko
Verzonden: vrijdag 11 oktober 2019 15:26
Aan: CODATA International <codata-international at lists.codata.org>; Suchith Anand <Suchith.Anand at nottingham.ac.uk>
Onderwerp: Re: [CODATA-international] Digital Feudalism

Thank you Suchith,
I have not heard that term before but I did run into   related term this week at the DDI-CODATA workshop here in Dagstuhl.  The term is Data Colonialism.  This often happens when a foreign entity (e.g., a development agency/project).e data are collected in a developing country and are taken out of the country.  They will leave behind some summary tables but will take the rich data and metadata away.  This makes it difficult to develop the data analysis and management skills within the country.

Thanks for the message.

Cheers, Ernie
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CODATA: Making data work together to improve science to support decision makers.

On Friday, October 11, 2019, 08:51:29 AM EDT, Suchith Anand <Suchith.Anand at nottingham.ac.uk<mailto:Suchith.Anand at nottingham.ac.uk>> wrote:

I came across a recent op-ed by Prof. Mariana Mazzucato on “Digital Feudalism”  at


Prof. Mazzucato is a leading researcher and thinker on Technology and Innovation, advisor to the European Commission on research and innovation strategy, and author of two important books on the subject “The Value of Everything” and “The Entrepreneurial State”.

The report on “Mission-oriented Research and Innovation in the European Union” might be of interest


Since the use of cloud platforms for GIS data analysis is having a huge impact on the GIS community, the subject is of relevance. I would like learn more on this

  1.  Are there any examples of Digital Feudalism in GIS?
  2.  How will Digital Feudalism in GIS affect our future generations?
  3.  What policies are governments, regulators doing to reduce Digital Feudalism in GIS?
  4.  What policies and curriculum are universities, educators adopting to reduce Digital Feudalism in GIS?

Best wishes,


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