The Core Dump

A strong conviction that something must be done is the parent of many bad measures

[By Nic Lindh on Thursday, 09 December 2010]

You are the product

There’s no such thing as a free lunch. Enjoy a depressing explanation of why you are the thing being sold.

I love free stuff. Especially free Web services. Google, Gmail, Twitter, Facebook, all that stuff.

It’s pretty amazing what you can get for free these days.

Except of course there’s no free lunch. Never has been, never will be. You’re paying. Just not with money.

Any time you use a service at no cost to you, you are not the customer, you are the product being sold.

Just like the classic TV model, which is: Hey, here’s free entertainment for you. All you have to do is watch these ads.

In the TV model, the companies buying the ads are the customers—you, the viewer, are sold to them.

Same thing with the newspaper model—buy a paper, end up a product being sold to advertisers.

Not that there’s anything inherently wrong with that. It’s up to you to decide whether the thing you’re getting at no charge is worth putting up with the ads or giving up your personal information. Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. But it’s a choice only you can make.

So the next time you’re thinking about signing up for some new, shiny free service, do take a moment to think about what you’re giving up.

As an addendum, if you want to get ludicrously rich, come up with an idea that will have users create the content themselves and then sell ads targeted at your users. This is how Web-based e-mail and Facebook make their money, and it’s a fantastic business model. Provide a playground, let people do their thing and then sell them to advertisers. If you get enough users, welcome to Cuban cigars and Ferraris.

So ask yourself: “How much am I worth?”

« Learning English from the Boss

 »


Enjoy the ten latest posts!

The big thieves hang the little ones

Book roundup, part 29

A sci-fi and fantasy heavy installment that includes The Valedictorian of Being Dead, The Mastermind, Broadsword Calling Danny Boy, Tiamat’s Wrath, The Raven Tower, The Liberation, The Light Brigade and Cryptonomicon.

Politics is not the art of the possible. It consists in choosing between the disastrous and the unpalatable

Book roundup, part 28

Includes The Incomplete Book of Running, Aching God, The Murderbot Diaries, Lies Sleeping, The Consuming Fire, and Rendezvous with Rama.

Las Vegas trip report

Did you know Las Vegas is kind of nutty?

Book roundup, part 27

Includes Hollywood Dead, Tales from the Loop, Things from the Flood, The Court of Broken Knives, and Port of Shadows.

To see what is in front of one’s nose needs a constant struggle

“Cancel everything. You’re going into emergency surgery today”

Nic has a retinal tear and has his vision is saved by a laser.

Book roundup, part 26

Includes The Storm Before the Storm, White Trash, Calypso, Tell the Machine Goodnight, Prince of Fools, and Provenance.

Renewing the nerd card: Installing Ubiquiti UniFi in the house

The Internet tells Nic to install Ubiquiti gear in his house, so he does, and now he has thoughts.