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The Feudalisation of the Internet

Life is fun in the iManor

Dr Teodor Mitew

on 21 July 2017

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Transcript of The Feudalisation of the Internet

The internet is a copy machine
. At its most foundational level, it copies every action, every character, every thought we make while we ride upon it. In order to send a message from one corner of the internet to another, the protocols of communication demand that the whole message be copied along the way several times.
The digital economy is thus run on a river of copies
. Unlike the mass-produced reproductions of the machine age,
these copies are not just cheap, they are free
[The internet imposes] no barriers to entry, no economies of scale, no limits on supply.
Clay Shirky
Kevin Kelly
the internet
social content
the bomb
before the internet
multiple terminals connect to one 'mainframe' computer
Sputnik -1
centralised control over
information flow
a communication network to survive a nuclear exchange?
centralised network
control resides with the end user
distributed network
what changed?
each individual node in the network can broadcast to the entire network
totally unprecedented in a communications system
distributed control
all nodes
must be equal
an information network independent of the infrastructure over which it runs
all decision making resides with the ends (nodes), while the medium is as non-specialised as possible
multiple terminals connect to each other - no central computer
the main commodity in an information economy
is content
the former consumers are now also the biggest producers of content
who can see your data then?
the control vector
Max Schrems
Austrian law student
asks Facebook to give him
all data
the company has about him
Facebook user since 2008
in 2011
starts class-action lawsuit
1222 pages
of data
everyone can
freely distribute content
rise of social media
today it is
cheaper to store
content than to erase it
Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Google+
the appearance of
what is your social circle?
what do you like?
what do you dislike?
what do you talk about?
what do you look for online?
the more we know about you
the more valuable your data is
the more of it we want to keep
online metadata
knows more about you
than your closest friends
what is
economy is based on land
the peasants are nominally free
but the feudal lord controls all aspects of land use
you cannot leave the land without permission
you cannot sell the land without permission
you must pay rent to your feudal lord for using the land
your feudal lord decides how you use the land
a vague and widely contested term
a patchwork of practices spread over centuries
the manor
walled gardens
the beautiful
an inherently
cannot be indexed
by web search engines
content is tied to platform [the garden]
copyright controls
licensing fees
garden owner controls how you use the content
swimming in a
river of
information wants to be free
but it also wants to be expensive
Stewart Brand
as in
flow freely
as in
content is valuable
the walled garden
Apple App Store
protection from
'the big bad net'
'it just
is here
why '
because this is
not the internet
The old internet is shrinking and being replaced by walled gardens over which Google's crawlers cannot climb. Sure, Google can crawl Facebook's 'public pages', but those represent a tiny fraction of the pages on Facebook, and are
not informed by the crucial signals of identity and relationship which give those pages meaning
John Batelle
No one tried to get Bill Gates to alter Windows so that undesirable apps and associated content – undesirable to someone other than the user – couldn't be accessed. Today is different: if Facebook or Apple allow objectionable apps on their platforms, or Google in the Android Marketplace, or Microsoft in the Metro Store,
regulators can say: take it down
Jonathan Zittrain
closed, hierarchical, centralised databases
iFeudal decides
how you use the content
you must pay rent
for using the content
cannot leave the stack
without permission
the iManor
you cannot sell/copy content
without permission
economy based on information
users are technically speaking free
but stacks control all aspects of information use
thank you
feudalism is
feudalism is
relationships between
organized around
feudalism is
Google Play
Dr Teodor Mitew
Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry
Limbourg Brothers, 1416
liquid labour
attention economy
architecture of participation
the paradigm of information abundance

incessant sorting ,personal information spaces, presence bleed
value as an emergent
aggregate of participation
the logic of aggregates
power law distributions: 'the long tail'
the attention economy

abundance of information – scarcity of attention
the river of copies
Annual global IP traffic will surpass the zettabyte (1000 exabytes) threshold in 2016. Global IP traffic will reach 1.1 zettabytes per year or 91.3 exabytes (one billion gigabytes) per month in 2016. By 2018, global IP traffic will reach 1.6 zettabytes per year, or 131.6 exabytes per month.

Content delivery networks will carry over half of Internet traffic by 2018.
Fifty-five percent of all Internet traffic will cross content delivery networks by 2018 globally, up from 36 percent in 2013.
Global IP traffic will reach 1.1 zettabytes per year or 91.3 exabytes per month in 2016.

Global Internet traffic in 2018 will be equivalent to 64 times the volume of the entire global Internet in 2005. Globally, Internet traffic will reach 14 gigabytes (GB) per capita by 2018, up from 5 GB per capita in 2013.

Cisco White Paper (2014)
legacy media paradigm predicated on content control
how to stem the river of copies?
the attention vector
logic of aggregates predicated on value in the long tail
how to extract surplus value from the river of copies?
IP controls
'sharing is stealing'
the walled garden
over information
of information flows
of undesirable information
the walled garden
the stack
walled gardens are >>
what happens when a walled garden disappears?
We pay Google a sort of information tax.
If you want some data, you have to give up some, about who you are, what you do, what your movements are. Like most other states, Google will then sell access to you to other interested parties.

We are not really its citizens but its peons. We always owe a debt of information to Google, no matter how much of it we have already given up.

Our leisure time is now to be spent producing information for the vulture industries of Google and co, in an unequal exchange of information.
In exchange for the poll tax of personal data, we get to watch each other's cat videos, while Google becomes some new version of the state, presiding over all our bitty lives, master of all our data, in aggregate.
McKenzie Wark
welcome to the
if I offer to manage your email for you for free, in return for reading it all, I don't compromise only your privacy but also that of everyone corresponding with you
the stack>>
vertically integrated walled gardens
the stack>>
proprietary operating system
the stack>>
has its own cloud
the stack>>
has its own mobile device ecology
the stack>>
has its own currency
the stack>>
its users are its main production base
the internet had users
stacks have livestock
Bruce Sterling
back to
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