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Nationalize it

Mexicans celebrate oil nationalization in the 1930s.

My latest for The Guardian is an excerpt from a longer piece in the upcoming issue of Logic. It's an attempt to extend the "data-as-oil" metaphor a bit further, as a way to explore how we might democratize the data economy.

In particular, it makes the case for 1) regulating data extraction, 2) nationalizing data reserves, and 3) socializing data revenue. The longer piece goes into a bit more detail about a fourth possibility, which is using data to run a postcapitalist economy—an idea that has been around for a long time, but which newer technologies are making more and more feasible.

If I'm honest, I have mixed feelings about using the extractive metaphor to talk about data. Like any metaphor, it has its limits, and there's a lot that it conceals. The comparison of data to oil can be especially awkward, because oil is a resource that we *shouldn't* be extracting under any circumstances. But on balance, I think the extractive metaphor is more useful than not, because it offers a fairly simple (and mostly accurate) way to understand how data is acquired and made valuable. It also lets the Left invoke the history of resource nationalism, which gives us a good framework for thinking about how to democratize digital resources the way many left-wing governments have historically democratized natural ones.

Read the shorter version of the piece at The Guardian.

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