Patek Philippe makes watches, expensive watches. Their advertisements in magazines, on billboards, etc. come with the slogan “You never actually own a Patek Philippe, you merely look after it for the next generation.”
Stewardship is defined by Webster as “the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one’s care.”
Sustainable is defined as “of, relating to, or being a method of harvesting or using a resource so that the resource is not depleted or permanently damaged.” This is often used in relation to managing forests.
Would our approach to data and the technologies we use change if we had a similar slogan Patek Philippe or a similar approach to managing forests? If we better understood that data sticks around for a long time and that we rarely, if ever, actually own it? And balance this with using data and technology thoughtfully, carefully, and in a way that doesn’t permanently damage the future of those about whom the data is?
Interestingly, most organisations think they are already doing this. Most organisations follow the laws they need to, but sustainable living does not come from following the laws, it often comes from going beyond the law and creating new laws and ways of living. Our climate crisis is a result of most of us following the laws of our lands, clearly we need a new approach and new laws. The same can be said about data and technology.