Feudalisation of the Internet – The iPhone Drones


A feudal society usually refers to a hierarchically ordered system that revolves around land being held in exchange for service and those who provide labor are tethered to the land (Sommerville n.d.). Freedom is limited though the ‘appearance’ of freedom is installed.  Some, such as Zittrain in ‘Tethered Appliances, Software as Service and Perfect Enforcement’, argue that the freedom on the Internet has taken a step back since the development of technologies including tethered appliances. Tethered appliances refer to devices such as the iPhone and iPad that have software which can be continuously updated via the original manufacturer or vendor after purchase.


Can it be said that we have lost our freedom since handing over our information and control to these devices and Internet networks? Perhaps, however feudal societies could often provide convenience, protection and a sense of community. Having a record of all your contacts after losing you phone or iPad is definitely an example of the plus side of these devices … but do we risk our security for the sake of being socially connected? Or what we perceive to be ‘social’ from within a Walled Garden (Dreher 2013)?

To receive all the latest functions and coolest technology a level of trust for our digital ‘lords’ is needed in this so-called feudal society. Giving up a degree of control can often be perceived as a good thing when dealing with so much information in ‘the real world’ and not having to create or install your own security software saves a lot of time and frustration. For many of us that have grown up with the Internet, it doesn’t seem like such a sacrifice. But that’s what they want us to think, right? Having limitations put it place to control what vendors do with the data of us Internet peasants may be the first step to regaining some level of security and control. Or we could just ditch our iPhones…. unlikely!


Reference List

Sommerville, J.P. n.d., ‘Feudalism’, accessed 29/4/2013, https://faculty.history.wisc.edu/sommerville/123/feudalism.htm

Zittrain, J n.d., ‘Tethered Appliances, Software as Service, and Perfect Enforcement’, In The Future of the Internet and How to Stop it, Yale University Press, New Haven, pp. 101-126.

Dreher, T 2013, Feudalisation of the Internet, Tutorial discussion, BCM310, Emerging Issues in Media and Communication, University of Wollongong, 29 April.