Data Feudalism

Are we technological serfs?

In the Middle Ages, the nobility had a lot of privileges but very few responsibilities, especially towards their serfs. If they wanted to change crops, the serfs had to plant them. If they wanted to go to war, the serfs had to take shelter—they couldn’t just leave. The serfs weren’t slaves, but they were tied to the land. In exchange, the serfs got security, so raiders wouldn’t make off with all the food just after the harvest.

In the tech world today, we pledge allegiance to our technological Lords—Apple, Google, Microsoft—giving them permission to use our data and hoping they keep our credit card numbers safe. They do maintain some kind of order—looking out for virus-infected apps, or protecting us from other data dangers.

But they exact a price. They control the social space around their products; it’s difficult to have an email account not linked to the cloud, it’s hard to get your resume out if you’re not Linked In. And they reserve the right to change the rules of the game, updating operating systems, installing security patches, even rebooting our machines.

Companies like Facebook and Google insist our data is theirs, to do with what they will. Maybe it has been. But data, like land, can revert to its original owners. Is it time for a data jubilee?

Douglas R. Tengdin, CFA

Chief Investment Officer

By | 2013-06-12T10:06:14+00:00 June 12th, 2013|Global Market Update|0 Comments

About the Author:

Mr. Tengdin is the Chief Investment Officer at Charter Trust Company and author of “The Global Market Update”. The audio version of each post can be heard on radio stations throughout New England every weekday. Mr. Tengdin graduated from Dartmouth College, Magna Cum Laude. He received his Master of Arts from Trinity Divinity School, Magna Cum Laude and received his Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation in 1992. Mr. Tengdin has been managing investment portfolios for over 30 years, working for Bank of Boston, State Street Global Advisors, Citibank – Tunisia, and Banknorth Group. Throughout his career, Mr. Tengdin has emphasized helping clients manage their financial risks in difficult environments where they can profit from investing in diverse assets in diverse settings. - Leave a comment if you have any questions—I read them all! - And Follow me on Twitter @GlobalMarketUpd

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