Bow to your Lords


As our lives become ever more integrated with the internet, our relationship with the platforms we use is becoming more and more like that of serfdom, seen in the middle ages.

Listen to my SoundCloud post which speaks a little more about iFeudalism and ‘walled gardens’.


3 thoughts on “Bow to your Lords

  1. I was going to make a joke about the vertically integrated stacks of walled gardens being the Tower of Babel, but then I realised I was getting the Tower of Babel mixed up with the Hanging Gardens of Babylon and the whole thing just fell apart.

    When considering this Feudal view of the internet, you do have to recognise, as you’ve suggested, that information and creative content are the crops of this society being grown, but I wonder exactly what is the currency we are paying the ‘lords’ with… You got at this with your ending question as well. In the Lessig reading a dramatic interpretation would say that we are paying the rent with our freedom, which is true to an extent I suppose, but when you get to the core of what Lessig is saying I think it is something else. Going by what lessig says, not only are our content-crops failing, but we’re also being taxed heavily for generating a lot of them, and in many of these internet lorddoms they’re also what we’re offering up to the lords in order to keep the little society running by attracting more citizens (“check it guys, there’s fertile land here”). However, while the information and content generated is key to keeping a web-society-site alive, the majority of the time these places still only get funding to run by advertising us to those with the power to fund outside of the feudal system we’ve got in place.

    I went a bit heavy on the feudal metaphor there but hopefully it was still understandable. Basically to get to the bones of it in a tl;dr form, I wonder whether we pay for these online communities with ourselves, our content/information or both. And in conjunction with that, would it be possible for a web like the one we’ve come to know be able to develop or exist without interaction with to world outside of the web?

  2. Thinking about the content of your podcast as well as the previous comment from monarchsfactory, I think a distinction has to be made between impeding on freedom and providing structure.
    While it’s true that the content generated should be able to be circulated freely, and that the “information tax” mentioned in the lecture is deeply concerning to me, I don’t believe that removing certain limitations for content would be beneficial in many cases. For instance, for many sites, restrictions against profanity or adult content are not unreasonable considering the diversity of the user-base. Limitation and control of information has it’s place, however holding functions to ransom for personal information to sell to third parties is not among the restrictions many would deem reasonable, and rightly so in my opinion.
    As for monarchsfactory’s question, we do in a sense pay to be involved in online communities by providing information which can be used to profit from us; and while it would be possible for the web to develop independently of material reality, I think it would be highly unlikely due to the amount of inspiration content creators draw from it.

  3. Great job, I was able to clearly understand the concept of iFeudalism through your clear explanation and analogy. Do you think that having this structure of internet lords and peasants is beneficial to its function or do you think that gatekeepers are just monetising for selfish reasons? I think that gatekeepers are inevitable and due to the modern day need for affluence, monetising too is inevitable.

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