[CODATA-international] Digital Feudalism

alberto.susini alberto.susini at infomaniak.ch
Mon Oct 14 13:39:47 EDT 2019

Dear Suchith, Dear all,
Thanky you very much for raising this fundamental problem of GIS data with the very interesting publication of Marianna Mazzucato. I fully agree with the majority of the statements expressed in these very interesting email exchanges.
We have to take in account that GIS data are a tradable commodity produced in majority by big major firms who fought a guerilla war during years again open data and that now found a way to pervert what was achieved.
If we go further and try  to analyze the GIS software market, we will be surprised to see a very particular form of entreprise with few majors still in personal ownership not present in the action trade market. This situation can bring to monopolistic financial captation during the extraction value process of the GIS data by the use of platforms. The platform owners can be assimilated as the modern landlords. As a commodity, GIS data obeys to the laws of political economy. When we talk about value extraction and redistribution, it's usefull to focus again with a new reading of the marxian value theory in the light of the internet economy. For an interesting further reading I recommend the following book :
《Reading Marx in the Information Age: A Media and Communication Studies Perspective on “Capital,” volume 1, 2016》  by Christian Fuchs Professor At Westminster University.
There is the urgent need to analyze the GIS data market under a technocritical point of view, in order to preserve the common goods issues achieved in the digital world.It can be an opportunity for african countries, with their concrete case experiences, to take the lead in that new critical field of GIS data value extraction, in order to correct the situation they have to deal with.

Best regards

Alberto Susini
German society of cartography
Free researcher on technocritical risk management and common goods
-------- Message d'origine --------De : Kiringai Kamau <kiringai.kamau at godan.info> Date : 14.10.19  18:08  (GMT+01:00) À : Ross Wilkinson <ross.wilkinson at gmail.com> Cc : CODATA International <codata-international at lists.codata.org> Objet : Re: [CODATA-international] Digital Feudalism Thanks, Ross,GODAN has finalized an MoU with African Universities offering Agriculture so that we can collaborate in the delivery of capacity building initiatives. Our role as GODAN is simply to promote collaboration at diverse levels with the stakeholders that our partners in government, academia, and research seek to see in their network.We would be excited to support any such efforts through the learning and research platforms that can emerge riding on the open data agenda.Sincerely,On Mon, Oct 14, 2019 at 8:13 AM Ross Wilkinson <ross.wilkinson at gmail.com> wrote:Hi all, and in response to Geoffrey’s request, I think a key measure of success of open data activities is partnerships formed, such as happens in Godan. In Australia, an opening up of astronomical pulsar data led to new partnerships between Australian and Chinese researchers. On the other hand partnerships need trust, so the issues that have been raised often reduce trust. I like the African Open Data Platform because it enables trust building and this new partnerships.....RossRoss Wilkinson +44 7491 705532 new European number.....RossRoss Wilkinson +44 7491 705532 new European numberOn 13 Oct 2019, at 10:54 am, Florida Maritim <Florida.Maritim at kalro.org> wrote:

Drs. Kassim and Kiringai,
I concur since this is not the 1st time experts have come up with good ideas but they reach the dead-end for not being inclusive and multi-displinary
 and thanks for sharing and sincerity and this happens a lot even in the agricultural research sector in sub Saharan Africa, we have a number of excellent technologies and miss out on the adoption.
From: CODATA-international [mailto:codata-international-bounces at lists.codata.org]
On Behalf Of Kiringai Kamau
Sent: Saturday, October 12, 2019 3:44 PM
To: Mwitondi, Kassim <K.Mwitondi at shu.ac.uk>
Cc: CODATA International <codata-international at lists.codata.org>
Subject: Re: [CODATA-international] Digital Feudalism

Kassim, Niek


As you rightly say, most of the projects are undertaken from a top-down perspective, with limited sharing of knowledge among all the actors ... the beneficiaries rarely get to see the definition of the mission and the impatience to get
 started by those coming with the project funds creates no opportunity for any preparedness among the beneficiary partners. Where knowledgeable persons exist, they may only be hosted within institutions. In many cases, such institutions are not core/key actors
 in the problem/project definition. They are only invited, by a higher privileged office/officer, when everything has been defined and pathways of implementation determined at a political level they cannot question. Economic or political interests are the pathways
 that those with interests use to take advantage of a system they may know presents the opportunity to give them leeway to mine data for their use and leave with it. The projects therefore are not defined with any other intention other than the data sourcing
 for a song and empty promises by those portending to possess the knowledge that will develop a beneficiary country. 


Realizing this challenge, the Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition convened with ministers of the South-South an Open Data Conference in Nairobi where a Declaration was formulated. We are currently supporting African countries
 to evolve policies and frameworks that can advise compliance to national, regional and global agendas and in the process build local capacity key of which is data governance. I am convinced that we can sport feudal inclinations on behalf of partner countries
 in projects and therefore request anyone formulating a project that they feel should be bottom-up and create local knowledge should link up with GODAN through Suchith or myself (in case your area of focus is Africa).


Thanks, Suchith for sharing the Feudalism concerns.


Kiringai Kamau



On Sat, Oct 12, 2019 at 10:16 AM Mwitondi, Kassim <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 <codata-international-bounces at lists.codata.org>
 on behalf of Trimpact - Niek <niek at trimpact.nl>
Sent: 11 October 2019 18:12:22
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 


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
Bringing value to life
Mezenlaan 138  -  6951 HR Dieren  -  The Netherlands – T +31 61 13 81 061
64218422   -
niek at trimpact.nl
 - www.Trimpact.nl

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
Larrimac:  More than a golf course!
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>




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 

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

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Kiringai Kamau


GODAN Africa Lead

Programme for Capacity Development in Africa (P4CDA Africa)

GODAN Head Office

845 Sherbrooke Street West, Montreal, Quebec, Canada H3A 0G4

Macdonald Campus, McGill University, 21111 Lakeshore Road, Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue, QC H9X 3V9

Programme for Capacity Development in Africa (P4CDA)
PO Box 1618, 00100 GPO Nairobi, 1st Floor, Nyaku House, Argwings Kodhek Road
Cell: +254 722 800 986/+254 733 375 505
kiringai.kamau at godan.info or
kiringai at perfect.africa

www.godan.info or
Tweeter: @kiringaik, Skype: kiringai.kamau

_______________________________________________CODATA-international mailing listCODATA-international at lists.codata.orghttp://lists.codata.org/mailman/listinfo/codata-international_lists.codata.org-- _____________________________________________________________________________________________________Kiringai KamauGODAN Africa LeadProgramme for Capacity Development in Africa (P4CDA Africa)GODAN Head Office845 Sherbrooke Street West, Montreal,
Quebec, Canada H3A 0G4Macdonald Campus,
McGill University, 21111 Lakeshore Road, Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue, QC H9X 3V9 Programme for Capacity Development
in Africa (P4CDA)PO Box 1618, 00100 GPO Nairobi, 1st
Floor, Nyaku House, Argwings Kodhek RoadCell: +254 722 800 986/+254 733 375 505Email: kiringai.kamau at godan.info
or kiringai at perfect.africa 

Website: www.godan.info
or www.perfect.africa,
Tweeter: @kiringaik, Skype: kiringai.kamau
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