[CODATA-international] Digital Feudalism

Trimpact - Niek niek at trimpact.nl
Sun Oct 13 03:05:28 EDT 2019

Dear all,


Thanks Fraser for joining the discussion. I copied your contribution in
another string to keep all information together as much as possible to build
the cases as requested by Geoffrey Boulton (see below).


The last year or so I've been involved in supporting an intercollectivity of
29 communities in elaborating an integrated sustainable development plan for
a region in Mali together with its Strategic Environmental Assessment
(PDIDS/SEA for details in French and English summary see
www.souroumali.org). One of the partners in the process was a team of
regional offices of various ministries (as mentioned before that could only
use own collected data). The PDIDS foresees data collection and storage at
this level, as advocated by Dr. Kassim. Other innovations of the PDIDS/SEA
are a) it is developed in close collaboration with the population, b) owned
and steered by the intercollectivity with technical support, c) discussed
with an inter-ministerial commission, and d d) to enhance synergy and
alignment of all stakeholders, all new projects have to contribute to the
PDIDS (go/no-go mechanism included). Boosting sharing data and information
is planned, but remains a  challenge because of the issues mentioned in this


The question becomes how CODATA, GODAN, and others, could underscore in
their discussions with government officials the need for local
storage/handling (GIS, etc.) of georeferenced data and lessons learned,
building capacity at national and subnational levels, and get the funds to
do so.


Kind regards,


Dr. Niek van Duivenbooden


Mezenlaan 138  -  6951 HR Dieren  -  The Netherlands - T +31 61 13 81 061

KvK: 64218422   -  <mailto:niek at trimpact.nl> niek at trimpact.nl -
<http://www.trimpact.nl/> www.Trimpact.nl



Van: CODATA-international <codata-international-bounces at lists.codata.org>
Namens Fraser Taylor
Verzonden: zaterdag 12 oktober 2019 21:45
Aan: Mwitondi, Kassim <K.Mwitondi at shu.ac.uk>; Kiringai Kamau
<kiringai.kamau at godan.info>
CC: CODATA International <codata-international at lists.codata.org>
Onderwerp: Re: [CODATA-international] Digital Feudalism


Some Further Thoughts,

The process by which projects are developed and approved as has been alluded
to is often primarily a political one in which indigenous national geomatics
people are too rarely involved. External actors are often of the impression
that they have adequately consulted national governments but those same
governments have not always consulted their own people. Projects should
complement and add to capacity building in the host nation and this requires
changes both on the part of the external actors AND national governments.




Van: CODATA-international <codata-international-bounces at lists.codata.org>
Namens Mwitondi, Kassim
Verzonden: zaterdag 12 oktober 2019 21:14
Aan: Falk Huettmann <fhuettmann at alaska.edu>; BOULTON Geoffrey
<Geoff.Boulton at ed.ac.uk>
CC: CODATA International <codata-international at lists.codata.org>
Onderwerp: Re: [CODATA-international] Digital Feudalism


Thanks Falk. The dark side of modernity, or whatever it may be called,
spells an imbalance that needs to be addressed. This imbalance spans across
across the entire spectrum of global relations. We are only bringing up
data-related issues now, because we are waking up to the inevitable call for
data utilisation in all aspects of human development, otherwise, we spent
generations focusing on prices of raw materials and trade surpluses and
deficits. As it is in the global trade relations and FDIs, the main triggers
of the imbalance derive from the sense of sharing ownership of the
resources, tools and skills. It would be much easier to understand if we
were discussing relationships based on gold mining or oil and gas
exploration than it is on data. 


While the high value of data/information has been known for millenia, its
appreciation in some parts of the world has been slow. Apparently, what
CODATA, WDS, RDA and many others are doing is to enhance global utilisation
of data in human development. The key question is why, in the 21st century
(the Big Data era), issues like the ones we have been discussing over the
last 24 hours are still common place? The answer lies in the imbalance in
the ownership of data resources - tools for acquisition, storage, analysis
and dissemination. Luckily (or sadly), even in developed world, our
capacities to generate data far outpace the capacity for harnessing, let
alone processing and interpreting it. Only a short delay may render that
data obsolete for real time decisions, but the upside is that it still makes
a good historical data for learning from. 


Now, here is a typical scenario. Assume a Government department in
Sub-Saharan Africa running a crop mapping project aimed at enhancing
agricultural productivity and market accessibility through data/information
sharing. Assume too that the project is initiated via some bilateral
arrangement, hosted by a Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition and
funded by some development partner, who typically also appraises the
project. The factors (data) affecting such as project extend beyond the
horizons of the ministry - but quite often that is as far as the team will
see, which leads to another elephant in the room-shunning


We may be talking of overseas partners leaving with valuable data, but the
bottom line is that quite often they either haven't captured many attributes
or they simply don't have the capacity to harness and utilise them. In the
case of biomass data I mentioned yesterday, the girl told me that her
western colleagues would be willing to give her the data if she requested
and that they had taken the files with them because they couldn't be stored
locally. Which begs the question whether, at the project inception, could
that eventuality have been foreseen? Imperatively, recipients and partners
should discuss and assess available capabilities in interdisciplinary
contexts before launching projects,  which doesn't always happen.






Dr Kassim S. Mwitondi

Sheffield Hallam University

Faculty of Science, Technology and Arts

Communication & Computing Research Centre

9410 Cantor Building, City Campus

153 Arundel Street

Sheffield, S1 2NU

United Kingdom

Tel. +44-114-2256914 (Direct)

Tel. +44-114-2255555 (General)



From: Falk Huettmann < <mailto:fhuettmann at alaska.edu> fhuettmann at alaska.edu>
Sent: 12 October 2019 18:51
To: BOULTON Geoffrey < <mailto:Geoff.Boulton at ed.ac.uk>
Geoff.Boulton at ed.ac.uk>
Cc: Mwitondi, Kassim < <mailto:K.Mwitondi at shu.ac.uk> K.Mwitondi at shu.ac.uk>;
CODATA International < <mailto:codata-international at lists.codata.org>
codata-international at lists.codata.org>
Subject: Re: [CODATA-international] Digital Feudalism 


Dear Geoff, Kassim et al, 


thanks indeed for bringing this up. I was missing such views here for a long


We and others have published on those things, digital terror,
unsustainability etc. for long time
As a matter of fact, there are entire disciplines that

cover failure of capitalism, neoliberalism, computing and the western

the world from James Cook onwards.

I suggest you can simply start there and see how one-sided most informatics
and data people

still are.


Compare that for instance with 



There is not much ideology in this, simply looking at facts and reality.

I suggest we can have a more relevant progress.


It starts with transparency, open access data sharing and metadata though.

I lack seeing that a lot, certainly in the sciences,in the EU and in

sustainability and climate issues and such governance, development aid

Industry is pretty bad in this, so are all royal governances I know, FIFA
and the olympics (see role models there).


Happy to learn here; thanks again


  Falk Huettmann PhD, Professor

     Uni of Alaska Fairbanks



On Sat, Oct 12, 2019 at 12:06 AM BOULTON Geoffrey <
<mailto:Geoff.Boulton at ed.ac.uk> Geoff.Boulton at ed.ac.uk> wrote:

Dear Correspondents 


What has been described in the various letters is a process that has become
clearer over the years, and which is now well documented. Together with
several colleagues (Kenya, Botswana, Senegal) I have been doing some work
for the African Science Granting Councils (19 African States) that analyses
advantages and disadvantages for Africa of federated open science practices,
together with the policies required to deliver them to best effect. The
issues you have all described are being addressed, such that we hope the
Granting Councils will address them, together with International Partners.
It would be very helpful if we were able to call on your experiences as
evidence. Would any of you be prepared to write a paragraph or two about
particular instances that highlight key problems?


All good wishes


Geoffrey Boulton

CODATA Past President



Geoffrey Boulton OBE FRS FRSE
Regius Professor of Geology Emeritus
University of Edinburgh
Grant Institute, Kings Buildings
Edinburgh EH9 3JW
44 (0)131 667 2531
Mob: 44 (0)7590978510
Website:  <http://www.geos.ed.ac.uk/homes/gboulton>

On 12 Oct 2019, at 00:46, Mwitondi, Kassim < <mailto:K.Mwitondi at shu.ac.uk>
K.Mwitondi at shu.ac.uk> wrote:


This is an instance of a biased data ownership. A few years ago I was
working with a young African researcher on an agro-forestry research
project. No sooner had we started than I realused that her centre had only
some descriptive statistics but no direct access to the biomass data which
she and her colleagues had spent months collecting from two islands! The
vast chunk of the data had left with the development partners at the end of
the project. It turned out, nobody at the centre had any knowledge or
pressing interest to pursue the data and there was already new initiatives
to run another project, which in my view was almost a duplicate of the
first, but this time with a different development partner.

To cut the long story short, I have come across several cases of data
ownership of this nature and my view is that it doesn't help much coining
terminologies, as the best that can be achieved is a blame culture. Would I
call that data capitalism? Colonialism? Feudalism? I never would! I have
learnt, over the years, that proper problem identification is a major stride
in working out the solution. Blaming it on one part marginalizing the other
when it comes to data generation, access and ownership is stripping everyone
on the project of a fundamental responsibility in managing the project.

Apparently, the problem starts with the project write-up. If the project
recipient is fully engaged from project initiation to delivery, they surely
should know how to access the data, as that is a key project deliverable. My
personal experience is that there are a several factors that lead to this
kind of situation. One, many project ideas are top-down, that is, they are
not developed within the working conditions of the recipients. Two, there
are often many gaps in engagement, mainly caused by near disparate motives
on many projects, with the funders, experts and recipients not necessarily
having the same perception, motives or knowledge. Put the two together and
add the determined project timeline, you have a near disaster. But the
tripartite interests to run projects continues and we are creating a vicious
cycle. What is the solution? It must start from the recipients who must
align each incoming project with their respective development strategies.
They must present themselves as equal partners in defining the project
problem and tracking and measuring its outcomes. They should be able to
quantifiable identify what worked and what didn't and any there should be
national institutions charged with such responsibility. I could be writing
all night, I would rather stop here for now.



Dr Kassim S. Mwitondi
Sheffield Hallam University
Faculty of Science, Technology and Arts
Communication & Computing Research Centre
9410 Cantor Building, City Campus
153 Arundel Street
Sheffield, S1 2NU
United Kingdom
Tel. +44-114-2256914 (Direct)
Tel. +44-114-2255555 (General)


From: CODATA-international <
<mailto:codata-international-bounces at lists.codata.org>
codata-international-bounces at lists.codata.org> on behalf of Trimpact - Niek
< <mailto:niek at trimpact.nl> niek at trimpact.nl>
Sent: 11 October 2019 18:12:22
To: 'Ernie Boyko' < <mailto:boykern at yahoo.com> boykern at yahoo.com>; 'CODATA
International' < <mailto:codata-international at lists.codata.org>
codata-international at lists.codata.org>; 'Suchith Anand' <
<mailto:Suchith.Anand at nottingham.ac.uk> Suchith.Anand at nottingham.ac.uk>
Subject: Re: [CODATA-international] Digital Feudalism 


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


<image001.png>  Bringing value to life


Mezenlaan 138  -  6951 HR Dieren  -  The Netherlands - T +31 61 13 81 061

KvK: 64218422   -  <mailto:niek at trimpact.nl> niek at trimpact.nl -
<http://www.trimpact.nl/> www.Trimpact.nl





Van: CODATA-international <codata-international-bounces at lists.codata.org
<mailto: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
<mailto:codata-international at lists.codata.org> >; Suchith Anand
<Suchith.Anand at nottingham.ac.uk <mailto: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


Larrimac:  More than a golf course!

CODATA: Making data work together to improve science to support decision






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




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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