Feudalisation of the internet; The Power of Control By Sharmila Ramanathan

Dude, seriously what is feudalization? This was the first question that popped up in my head when I saw the readings for this week. Upon reading on various definitions, I have come to understand that “Feudalisation of the Internet” refers to the idea of a hierarchical in which there is a small group which holds the power over the powerless group. Feudal system was practised in accent times long ago, and today it is practised but in a different manner, it is practised in the internet.


The internet as described by Mithew from the lecture notes states that, the internet has a central control over communication and data processing. (Mithew 2012) “The internet imposes no barriers to entry, no economic scale, no limits to supply.” (Mithew 2012) Linking back to the topic, it demonstrates a central control over from all aspects of information used.



Image 1: http://www.sunnyskyz.com/good-news/82/Animal-lovers-save-over-500-caged-dogs
Image 2: http://www.flickr.com/photos/24443965@N08/2334556526/

This means that directly or indirectly we are still being controlled by the authorities, multinational companies and the government. So, what is the difference between animals being cages and human? It just had with humans it’s not vividly seen rather it is done to us indirectly in a subtle manner.  Below is some of the example which demonstrates this.

This demonstrates the ‘walled garden’. An example which demonstrates this are Apple products, this is said because although the product gives people the illusion of openness, but actually their products cannot be customized for example, any of the Iphone models can’t share songs with other phones from different brands.

Facebook is another good example that practices the walled garden concept. Whereby when updating status or uploading picture, the user has the control to customize who can and can’t see.

ImageExample one


Example two

Image 1: http://mashable.com/2011/02/07/facebook-privacy-guide/
Image 2: http://www.ilounge.com/index.php/articles/comments/imessages-being-sent-as-text-messages/

The creation of the internet was a revolution for mankind in the 21st century, the power of the internet can be seen in the 2008 General Election in Malaysia, whereby the opposition used the non-mainstream media such as the internet for their campaign which showed a big percentage win (Suffian 2010). However, it is safe to say that the internet is no longer free; it is full with ‘walled gardens’ whereby there is copyright, privacy, censorship and other forms of control.

However, personally I feel this issue is debatable. Although we may blame companies or the government for the control of content however many of us fail to see that we it was our decision to sign up to those platforms be it Facebook or Apple Apps and so on. I stress again, it was OUR DECISION! With that said, it is us, the users who give these companies the power to control cause without the support of us these companies won’t exist to control us. Hence, relating this point back the image above on humans being caged, it is because we allow ourselves to be in such situation being the end-users.

Nevertheless, we the consumers should fight or perhaps not support the products and services of these companies to resume back the control into our hand, the consumers, and the users. This also includes the government control in Malaysia such as media control in Malaysia so that truth and accuracy will prevail. Control of content and its distribution should be in the hand of us, the consumer, and the user.


Mitew, T, (2013), ‘The feudalisation of the internet: Life is fun in the iManor’, Lecture slide, 28/4/2013, accessed via eLearning

Ming Kuok, L (2007), ‘The State of Media Control in Malaysia’, source from Conference papers – International Communication Association; 2007 Annual Meeting.

Suffian, I. (2008) “Reflections of the 2008 Malaysian General Election: Role of the Internet in Political Communications”, Merdeka Centre for Opinion Research, Kuala Lumpur, 2 June, (12:23), p.18-23


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