I, Product

I tweet, therefore I am...

You may think of yourself as a user of Google, Facebook or Amazon, but you are actually their product.

 Photos Uncategorized 2008 02 21 Barcode 2Forget 1984 and Brave New World. The men who wrote those books were dangerously naïve and not as prescient as we once believed. Instead of Big Brother looking after us, we're immersed in a dizzily delightful system that cares so much about us that it anticipates our every pleasure, like a giant planetary-class Vegas, an immense, inexhaustible Disney World. All we have to do is to preserve the illusion that we, "the users," have the power: in that ignorance, we can live happily ever after.

Sure, Google will provide you with search results, but they are not in the search business; they are in the advertising business. Their profits come from marketing firms that buy your behavior.

Similarly, Amazon is not in the book business, although they will send you the books you've ordered. They are in the personal information business.

The assets of modern web-based companies are the intimate profiles of those who "use" them, like you and me. Time to forget the nice pronouncements like "Do no evil" that accompany the wholesale destruction of privacy now taking place on the web, or rather within the walled gardens that companies like Facebook, Google and Apple are erecting around us on the web. Compared to them, the Chinese censors re-inventing their Great Wall are a bunch of sissies.

Well, who cares? Look at what we've gained: We now have access to unprecedented new riches. Movies and songs by the thousands; new "friends" by the hundreds; timely pieces of data by the millions. Our lives have become richer, more intelligent, more interesting.

The world moves on. You may have had privacy rights as a customer or a user but what makes you think you should retain those rights now that you're just a product?

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