Episode 05. Socialize Data! Beyond the Anti-Politics of Digital Rentier Capitalism with Jathan Sadowski


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Today I’m talking with Jathan Sadowski from Monash University about the economic and political dimensions of digital capitalism. An emerging consensus sees digital data, its extraction and the concentration of Big Tech as signalling a dramatic shift towards a new age of “digital feudalism”: The story goes that digital services with minimal marginal costs enabled unprecedented market concentration in the hands of giant corporations, which thrive on capturing rents in the form of data they mine from end users. For many liberal scholars, this marks a dysfunctional phase of capitalism where innovation and competition are stifled, whereas profit-driven "socially legitimate" accumulation is displaced by rentierism. Jathan argues on the contrary that contemporary forms of digital value capture sit in the continuity of capitalist accumulation strategies. We talk about the Internet of Things, smart devices and energy grids, platform-based services, new forms of territorial sovereignty exerted by private companies which own digital urban infrastructures... but also about socialist alternatives to the dystopian present, which would necessitate socializing data and managing it as a public good.
You can follow Jathan on Twitter at: @jathansadowski
Check out Jathan's personal website: http://www.jathansadowski.com/
Jathan's recent book on Digital Capitalism with MIT Press:
Jathan's recent academic papers on Digital Capitalism:

When Data is Capital
The Internet of Landlords
Other references recommended by Jathan:
Why the Luddites were right
Democratic Data
Statecraft in the Digital Age

8 episodes