The Walled Garden

In today’s day and age, data storage is virtually all digital, with ‘less than two percent of all stored information being non-digital’ (Cukier & Mayer-Schoenberger 2013). This exponential growth and availability of data floating around the endless digital space is better known as ‘Big Data’. This term big data is surrounded by the idea that all things offline will gradually, and eventually, be fully connected to the Internet, such that there would ‘no longer be any human or social activity that is beyond digital capture’ (Sampath, G 2015). With all this data circulating around the digital space, also comes those who are controlling this content and in turn creating ‘Walled Gardens‘ for their users.

Sourced: Hughes, T 2014 –

Within these walled gardens we can see the garden owners creating ‘Stacks’, which are vertically integrated garden walls that allow for control of information, surveillance over information flows and censorship of undesirable information. Bruce Sterling (2013) refers to this idea as “the Internet had users, stacks have livestock”. This concept of the walled garden is closely linked to traditional ‘Feudalism‘, being referred to as ‘Digital Feudalism’ in this modern age.Screen Shot 2015-09-21 at 2.48.24 PM


Cukier, K.N & Mayer-Schoenberger, V 2013, ‘The Rise of Big Data: How It’s Changing the Way We Think About the World’, Foreign Affairs,

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Sampath, G 2015, ‘Does the Internet of Things herald an era of digital feudalism?’, livemint, 

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Sterling, B 2013, ‘Webstock’, Vimeo,

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  1. jsimpson14 · September 27, 2015

    Hi, nice post. You made a good use of infographics and your comparison to feudalism really cemented the facts about all the different models that different companies use. I look forward to more posts 🙂

  2. timwilly3 · October 20, 2015

    Top work.
    I was a little confused at the concept and had trouble visualisation the whole ‘walled garden’ concept in terms of censorship and surveillance. This post explained it very clearly.
    I found this interesting link that explains the definitions of what owners of the ‘stacks’ can do with their information to protect their intellectual property.

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