Data Governance

Introduces the concept of Data Governance

Author: Ben Koo E-Mail: koo0905[at]gmail[dot]com Year: 2021

Data Governance identifies how to manage the value of data. A well-known turning point in history was the publication of Luca Pacioli ’s Summa de arithmetica . This encyclopedia of mathematics, had 26 pages worth of text on what we call Double-entry bookkeeping . This became the foundational literature for accounting , the progenitor of using data to assign value to accounts, and henceforth gave birth to the practice of data governance.

Accounting as the foundation of Data Governance

According to historian Jane-Gleeson White12, Pacioli’s double entry book keeping idea influenced the development of arts, sciences, and capitalism. Double-entry bookkeeping as a rigorous approach to ensure data integrity, not only influenced the practice of the accounting profession, and it had a significant impact on the the formulation of Hamiltonian Mechanics , which is a foundational theory of both classical mechanics and quantum mechanics.

Sir William Rowan Hamilton wrote a paper3 cited many many scholars to demonstrate that many ideas about complex algebraic manipulation that laid the foundation of scientific revolutions are based on the formulation of creating accountable mathematical formulation strategies through double entry book keeping. David Ellerman had a paper that explains the powers of double entry bookkeeping in sciences4. The notion that creating public addresses for transactions amongst different accounts has been documented as a scientific theory on Double Entry Book-keeping. This book can be found online5:

Digital Governance

Given the intellectual roots of data governance have strong linkages to mathematics and accounting, it is only after the introduction of personal computing devices , and later the ubiquity of Internet access that made data governance an idea relevant to public affairs. The argument is that many people’s basic privacy and property rights may be challenged by people who have access to data collection and deployment technologies. Imminent threats such as fake news, big brother monitoring practices, identity thefts, and crypto currency issuance are already challenging the stability of the existing social fabric. These type of social debates are often related to the ideas of Digital governance . At this time, digital governance has not yet become a mature field of study, and it needs to be grounded in simple principles, so that it can be transparently practiced with local adaptations.

Conceptualization of Data Governance

Beside the notion of digital governance, data as an asset class must be kept accountable, so that it can be evaluated, and transferred with an objective operational framework. Knowing how to organize data in formats that satisfy consistent abstraction strategies, such as Universal Resource Identifier and Universal Resource Locator are important starting points in this field. Earlier work in data governance in a web of hyperlinked media can be traced back to Project Xanadu by Ted Nelson .

More recent more publications in this fields are Lessig ’s Code v2 6 and soon to be published work of Alex Pentland ’s Building the New Economy 7.


  1. J. Gleeson-White, Double Entry: How the merchants of Venice shaped the modern world–and how their invention could make or break the planet, publisher Allen & Unwin, ISBN:978-1-74175-755-2 , November 2011 ↩︎

  2. J. Gleeson-White, SIX CAPITALS, or CAN ACCOUNTANTS SAVE THE PLANET?, publisher Allen & Unwin, ISBN-10:9780393246674, February 2015 ↩︎

  3. Hamilton, S.W.R. (1837) Theory of Conjugate Functions, or Algebraic Couples: with a Preliminary and Elementary Essay on Algebra as the Science of Pure Time, Transactions of the Royal Irish Academy, 17pp. 293–422. ↩︎

  4. David Ellerman, On Double-Entry Bookkeeping: The Mathematical Treatment,  ↩︎

  5. J.C. Colt, The Science of Double Entry Book-keeping, online media: , last accessed: May 4th, 2021 ↩︎

  6. L. Lessig, Code: And Other Laws of Cyberspace, Version 2.0, Publisher: Basic Books, 2nd Revised edition, December 2006 ↩︎

  7. Alex Pentland, Alexander Lipton, and Thomas Hardjono, Building the New Economy, MIT Press, Work in Progress,  ↩︎

Last modified January 23, 2023: main page: Default to whitepaper (99f7613)