Data increases in value the more it is connected: it is a renewable, not oil

Gavin Starks
2 min readApr 8, 2020

Non-renewable resources are stock-limited

Data is not oil, yet we seem to want to gather and hoard it. The promise of ‘big data’ was that we could all consolidate power—if only we could get all the data. Instead, we have vast data lakes, largely stagnant and consuming more energy than they produce.

Our economic perception and our modelling of the value of the data is flawed if we treat it as a commodity of limited stock.

If I copy data and send it to you, I do not deplete the stock, I increase the number of connections.

Renewable resources are flow-limited

Data is generated indefinitely. Its rate of production is only increasing.

The rate of generation and replication should be attributed to marginal cost: there is potential infinite flow.

The barrier to growth is embodied in the number of possible connections that can be made, not in the means of production or distribution.

Unlocking the value of data sharing is a cultural imperative not a technology problem.

The challenge to our increasing the value of data is to reduce the friction in connecting it with other data, to produce value for the end-user(s).

This friction is not technology but embodied in our societal rules: laws, regulation, liabilities, risk management, processes and standards.

How might we best instrument this culture change?

Ref: Dgen blog ; Icebreaker One