And now I'm writing my PhD manuscript

Hi there!

I’ve been around when I started my PhD to ask for tooling and stuff. Just wanted to let you know, that I’m currently writing my thesis, and that your ill-tempered human-rights-fanatical uncompromising views are helping me make sense of my 3 years of work, and write a spicy introduction. A nice little community we have here :slight_smile:

The paper has to have smooth edges, though, consensual and all. So I’m citing Jeremy Rifkin and singing praises for the IoT, but my heart is with you guys.

See you!

PS: I gave over 300$ to AWS over the course of the PhD, the State is paying. I hope it will not happen again, please forgive us.


Hi there,

I’m putting a somewhat bold statement for the IT community in my thesis, and I’d like to know if any of you had a cool reference to back it up:

When Alice talks with Bob online, the data they produce is theirs.

Bold, right?
I like the Amber Case “cyborg anthropology” concept, but I fail to find a quotable source for it (that is, book, or article, not a TED talk). Can you point me to some good source stating that data being a by-product of our activity, it’s part of our selves? I’d quote Aral’s blog anytime, but again, a blog article as a citation is meh.


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I’m shamelessly upping my thread because I want an answer to my previous question so bad :’(

Hey @AdrienL

I read your post a month ago but I did not answer because I cannot help you with a cool reference to back that up

I do, however, agree with the idea, or utopia, behind the statement. But unfortunately the reality today is :

This raises a very interesting question on the ownership of data. For example :

I own a hard disk drive, so the hard disk is physically mine, I purchased it.

On that drive, I write a file. As the author of the file, and the owner of the drive, it is safe to assume that I can lay claim on the ownership of that piece of data inside the drive.

Now someone hands me a file that he/she wrote, just for the sake of sharing it with me while remaining the original author, and I store it on my drive. Can I say that I own that data as well ? Is the data mine just because I have it on my drive ?

Let’s take it a notch further. The drive has gigabytes of data that runs software, most of which can be open source. I own that data as well, because that’s fundamental to how open source software works. But what of the parts of data belonging to software that is not open source ? Do I own the data produced by my interacting with those softwares ?

How do you break down the ownership of data on digital supports ? Furthermore, what does owning data even mean ? Corporations squeeze lines in their terms of service to legally appropriate themselves the ownership of data on their platforms so they can sell it to advertisers and make money out of it. But I have to admit the concept of owning data is vast, complex and rather undefined.

Bottom line is, I still can’t help you with a reference. But maybe your statement is too general for anyone to bring a good reference to back it up.

I’m sure we would be many to want to see that statement as a reality of our world, but it isn’t. And that’s the whole point of all the efforts being put today by many developers, non-profit corporations or tiny 2-people teams to develop tomorrow’s platforms so that it becomes true.


By the way, I see no shame in that. It’s normal to want an answer. Couldn’t help you with a reference so I gave my thought over it.

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Thanks for your reply, @mh8 :slight_smile:

My sentence is not specific enough to ask for references, you must be right. You got the framework, though. After saying that Alice and Bob’s data belong to them, I present the cloud’s economic model (targeted advertisement) and state that, although it permits free services, it is a bad deal for users because it violates civic rights without their proper consent.
I will post the thesis here once it’s finished and validated!

It’s interesting to apply property law (usufruct is also interesting) to data on your drive, I did not think it through. It’s not my field, but as far as I know, there are three dimensions to ownership over something (when you have the three you have full ownership):

  • usus (right to use),
  • fructus (right to profit from it),
  • abusus (the right to abuse: alienate, break, destroy, whatever).

This must be portable to data ownership somehow? Although destroying a copy of a file does not destroy the original. I guess the right to modification (of free software) would be abusus.

So, when a friend gives you a file to read, you have usus and abusus, I’d say? The worst terms of service give full ownership over your data to the service provider. And, as part of free software, you also have full ownership, unless it’s a non-profit license, in which case you don’t have fructus.

Thanks for your views, I will consider the difference between what should be and what actually is!

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Hi there!

I did it :smiley: I defended my PhD at the end of November, it went all right. I had a jury full of “distributed systems” people and did an introduction on the birth of the “surveillance” business model (mostly paraphrasing the book The age of surveillance capitalism (2019) by Shoshana Zuboff, which I recommend). It was bound to please the audience.

I attach a copy of my manuscript, if you’re interested. I’m pretty sure the introduction & related works provide good arguments for any decentralisation advocate.

Thank you all for being such encouraging activists. I’m proud to tag along the freedom fighters :slight_smile:

main.pdf (4.2 MB)