The Culture & Technology podcast 005 | March 19, 2021

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Sabine Seymour & Paul Feigelfeld: What is Data?

There’s a lot of hype around the word data these days. But what’s less clear is its exact meaning – and its relationship with culture.

For Episode 5 of the podcast, media theorist Paul Feigelfeld is joined by technologist and entrepreneur Dr. Sabine Seymour, who recently joined the Polypoly Cooperative to give people more control over their personal data. The two debunk the many myths swirling around this hot topic, from the history of computer science to AI’s black box and the future of equitable data development.


Dr. Sabine Seymour is a technologist, researcher and entrepreneur whose work channels the democratising potential of digital technologies. After many years in New York City, she recently returned to Europe where she joined the Polypoly Cooperative, an initiative giving citizens sovereignty over – and a share in the profits of – their data.

Paul Feigefeld is a media theorist, curator and cultural scientist who researches how media and technology change the way we think and work and produce art. Listen to more of Paul in conversation with Shannon Mattern in Episode 1.


Severin Matusek is a writer, producer and editor who has spent the last decade researching how technology transforms culture, communities and society.


  • François Viète (1540-1603) was a French amateur mathematician, astronomer and lawyer who made significant contributions to modern algebra through his unprecedented systematic notation system and theory of equations.
  • Claude Shannon (1916-2001) was an American mathematician, engineer and cryptographer widely known as “the father of information theory”. Surveillance capitalism is a term coined by Harvard Business School emerita Shoshana Zuboff to describe the economic system built on the mass commodification of personal data as a form of capital and wealth creation.
  • Mosaic was an early web browser developed by the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) and released in 1993.
  • Netscape Navigator was another early web browser that built on the success of Mosaic, built by Marc Andreessen who had co-created the latter. Eventually replaced by the Netscape Navigator, which became the launchpad for Mozilla Firefox in the late 1990s.
  • TCP/IP is short for Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol, a series of codes enabling computers to communicate within a network.
  • Data commons are initiatives in which data is gathered and shared as a common resource, often guided by community ownership and a public good element. Wikipedia and OpenStreetMap are examples of data commons.
  • The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a European Union law governing personal data protection and privacy. In force since 2018, it imposes a strict and comprehensive set of measures on organisations and individuals that process data collected from or targeted at European citizens.
  • Zebras Unite is a cooperatively-led global movement charting the way for a more ethical and inclusive approach to startup culture and venture capital investment.
  • Polypoly Cooperative is a European Union data chaired by Dr. Sabine Seymour to give individuals sovereignty over their data by enabling them to trace and control its use, and share in the profits it generates.



The Culture & Technology Podcast is a long-form interview podcast produced by the Vienna Business Agency @wirtschaftsagentur_wien that aims to establish a long-term perspective on the ways emerging technologies impact cultural production.

Editorial Team: Paul Feigelfeld, Anna Dorothea Ker, Severin Matusek, Elisabeth Noever-Ginthör, Elisa Stockinger, Heinz Wolf.

Theme Music by Zanshin.

S1E5 is now out and available wherever you listen to podcasts.

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Last updated: May 14, 2024 ■ 17:35pm