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“You’re Not the Customer, You’re the Product” (quoteinvestigator.com)
165 points by sohkamyung 4 days ago | hide | past | web | 162 comments | favorite





What I really hate is when an entire industry segment colludes to force me to change a preferred aspect of my lifestyle to something that's more lucrative for them.

An example of this is the subscription economy article posted a few days ago. Companies like Adobe decide to not sell licenses anymore, rather to rent access monthly. Not that I use Adobe, but Feedly dinged me for $69 for their Pro option again this year. Do I really need to pay yearly for a damned RSS reader?

The other one is music. The music industry doesn't want to sell you perpetual licenses for individual tracks or albums anymore. It's too hard to manage. Apple managed to force them to do it, and Google got in under that umbrella, but the music industry wants to move directly to subscription services rather than build out a customer-friendly rights management regime for individual tracks. I hate subscription music services with a bitter passion and absolutely refuse to use them.

If the industry manages to wipe out individual track sales, I will pirate music. I would hate to go back to those days, but it's preferable to not having control over my music. It's already absurdly, ridiculously hard to move music from one iPhone to another. To be told, 'no, you can't have this track you fell in love with because it wasn't released yet on your stupid service', is an even greater snub.

The music industry will have to pry my music library out of my cold dead fingers.


More and more of my music listening and purchasing happens on Bandcamp. It's pretty much exactly the model I want as a consumer and the music there is a lot more interesting than what's going on on the major labels anyway.

Bandcamp is amazing. The terms are easy to understand, the pricing is fair, the audio quality is guaranteed (they require uploads to be CD-quality lossless foiles, as a minimum) and it's super easy for the musicians to manage tagging and even physical merch sales.

It's exactly how music sales and distribution should be done.


It also has some of the highest margins for the musician. I don't mind paying $10-15 for an album if I know the majority of it gets back in their hands rather than the distributor or label.

And you can choose to pay more than the recommended price, for artists you particularly want to support. According to Bandcamp's statistics, a lot of people actually do that.

+1 for bandcamp. As a plus, they have sane filenames and metadata for the stuff you download. Beatport, for example, gives you a download with the name of the song + a long hexstring. I started using beets.io specifically because of this.

Bandcamp's tagging is spot on, with sensibly-sized embedded cover art and everything.

  >> lot more interesting than what's going on on the major labels anyway.
The Pandora recommendation system has gotten much better recently, and has become a good way to find good relatively unknown artists.

I basically only send to the streaming services as promotion. Eventually, I'd like to ignore them entirely and get all my sales on Bandcamp.

Yep, I prefer to buy music through Bandcamp as well. DRM-free lossless FLAC is the best.

I get your perspective, but music streaming is preferable for the majority of consumers. Most people are using mobile devices as their primary device, especially for music, and not having to download songs is a cheaper and more memory efficient alternative.

I knew kids in middle school who would spend hundreds of dollars a month buying iTunes songs with their parents credit cards. Now kids just need a $10 subscription. That's a solution for consumers.


> Now kids just need a $10 subscription.

For life. If the track they want is on that service, otherwise they need 2 $10 subscriptions. Or 3. Now tell me - do you think that helps the small artists who get a tiny % of listens and thus practically no revenue at all from sales?

I bought hundreds of pounds worth of music, and now I listen to it. Sometimes I buy some more stuff. I'll never have to pay to listen to Dark Side of the Moon again though - and I'm happier that way.


I think the major market revelation is that entertainment can sometimes be fungible. You don't need lots of subscriptions because one is enough; if they don't have content you're looking for then no big deal, you'll find something else.

I'm a person for whom a subscription makes perfect sense, for the most part I don't have a list of artists I'm a fan of, I just want decent quality and variety.


Music is not fungible, and definitely genre is not fine enough on some services. If I want the Goldberg Variations from Gould, Wendy Carlos won't cut it. Nor do I want some sopophoric Chopin piece afterwards. Kenny G doesn't belong on the same service as Jphn Coltrane. As bad as iTunes was for this, Spotify is worse.

I think there's also a second slightly terrifying question. What happens when you can no longer afford $10 a month?

This may not be a boat we see ourselves being in, but the subscription services (once dominant) are free to raise prices. Maybe it hits $25 a month and suddenly what was convenient and cheap is just more than you can justify because you've lost your job and are living off savings.

Suddenly you no longer have access to your music. The playlists you love, the one that gets you through a shitty day etc.


Sometimes I feel like conveniences will ruin our lives.

... And a really shitty solution for musicians.

But honestly, I see the appeal; I really do.


If you're the kind of person who has a mostly static, well defined set of musical tastes, congratulations, subscription services aren't targeted at you! They still sell CDs and I really doubt that individual track/album sales, in some format or another, are going anywhere for quite some time. Buy your music and micromanage your library and tags to your hearts content.

For some of us, music subscription services are liberating. I absolutely love Spotify. I've discovered more new artists and genres of music that I enjoy in the last 2 years than I did in my entire life prior to that. All because there is no marginal cost to hearing a good song and immediately checking out that artist's entire discography. It beats pirating, even that has additional work in the form of finding a working torrent with good quality and managing the actual files myself. Having a recommendation engine, being able to piggyback on my friend's playlists to see what they've been listening to, having new releases and curated playlists available in a few taps...all gravy on top. I wasn't always a believer, sitting around somewhere I have a hard drive with 50GB of music I haven't touched in years. I put a huge premium on keeping my music under my control and organized. And then one day I gave it all up and discovered it was actually better this way.

I find it interesting that there is some sort of problem with Spotify but not with say, Netflix, even though it's essentially the same model. Why the difference? Is it because cable television has always been a subscription model, with individual purchase being optional? Is it because music is a fundamentally different media with different expectations? I do know that if I was forced to choose between the two, I would go with Spotify 10/10 times.


> They still sell CDs and I really doubt that individual track/album sales, in some format or another, are going anywhere for quite some time. Buy your music and micromanage your library and tags to your hearts content.

That is getting harder and harder by the year. Both Apple and the music companies go out of their way to make it incredibly difficult to manage my library.

It took two days and third-party tools to move my library from one iPhone to another. In the end I had to resort to manually copying down the name of every single track on my current phone to make sure it gets moved over onto the other phone. This is because the tools couldn't get everything. Getting all the metadata over still hasn't been 100% completed.

The problem is that I don't have a static, well-defined music taste. It changes all the freaking time. My music library needs to be able to keep up with what I want out of it. As it's virtually impossible to easily get tracks in and out of an iPhone, the single source of truth for my music library has become the tracks on the phone itself.

If I don't take painstaking care to ensure that every last file is moved, then some tracks which I really really love to hear, that I can listen to on repeat for hours, can completely fall off my radar and I won't hear them again for months / years.

Managing music files manually is something I absolutely must have. But there's nothing those goddamn assholes want more than to push me onto their shit fucking subscription services where my music life becomes accountable to their greedy whims.


Sounds like your issue is primarily with Apple not providing proper access to your iPhone?

Tons of music is available as non-DRMed files, or CDs, and I can move those files around however I want on my devices. I suppose some really popular stuff might be exclusive to streaming or DRMed channels, but I can't say I could name any right now.


Yes. Fucking Apple.

I don't care where I get my music from. Honestly I just get most of it from the iTunes store. I just need to be able to manage it once I get it.

I tried using iTunes manual management. It's awful. Unless all your music comes from iTunes, then you're back to manual file management. Now I don't even sync my phone to my laptop anymore, I just don't trust it to not fuck with my music collection. iTunes touches the phone only when I have music that I can't buy through the iTunes Store or I'm switching phones.

I am not willing to carry around a third device just for music. I am not willing to devote space in my apartment to CD storage. I'd love to be able to store my music in the cloud, but the difficulties Apple has placed on music file transfers mean that the phone itself has to be the repository for the state of my music library. Even if I do that, I still have to be extremely careful when moving devices, it's not a magic bullet.

If Apple makes this any worse then I will be forced to migrate to Android. I tried it once a few years ago but was burned really badly by the LG Nexus 5, a truly horrid device that could not stream Bluetooth music properly. I was actually happy when that thing took a 5 foot dive onto a tiled floor so I could run back to the Apple Store and beg the ghost of Steve Jobs for forgiveness and absolution.


Did you read the rest of my post? Streaming services solve a lot of the problems you're having, the same ones I had before I switched over. I remember the same thing, days of trying to extract raw MP3 files from my iPhone in some obfuscated format. Using third party tools that promised to make it easy but really just fucked up my library worse. Streaming gets rid of all of that. All of your music (well, most), available wherever you are, no hassle. There are real, tangible reasons that the subscription model has taken off other than the greed of corporations. Sign up for a free trial and give it a chance man. And for the record, Spotify is bleeding money, hardly a bunch of greedy assholes.

Maybe I should write a blog post, "How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Subscription Music Services"?


> All of your music (well, most),

That's the problem. If it's not well and truly all of my music, then it's worthless. I will take the pain of manual library file management over not having every last one of my tracks available in one big library that I can shuffle.

You can generalize this to, I will never put my music lifestyle in the hands of your company's relationship with the music labels.


I've seen this sort of behaviour modification with online competitions, especially on facebook. E.g. The "like, comment and share" type competitions. I would argue many of these competitions are dubious as there is no oversight and I've read enough about fake ones to take the view that I would rather not go near any of them. But so many of my acquaintances slavishly follow the instructions in the hope of winning a gift card or some other piece of tat.

Actually facebook and its more savvy advertisers and posters seem to really good at this sort of thing. The amount of people, whom I would consider educated, who share freebooted and farm-produced content surprises me.

Similarly there is a UK Fishing forum that requires you to accept and open promotional emails from the store that owns the forum in order to be a member. I'll happily throw in a few quid a year to support a useful forum, but going through the hoops of having to open marketing emails to reactivate my membership is just too much.


For apps like 1Password one would prefer one-time sales. (And I am glad I have it)

However, as with apps, at some point the money will stop flowing in. And then you have a problem keeping your business.

If we compare this to the past: you bought some software for managing your contacts. This cost 50$. Then, one year later they released a new version with new features and bugfixes, again for 50$. Even if your userbase didn't grow, they probably bought the software ever x years, giving your company revenue.

Now however, nobody dares to charge for a new version of some software. (Even in the AAA game industry people are asking for DLCs instead of a 20xx full version), reducing income from one-off licenses.

This might all have started with the app stores.


> (Even in the AAA game industry people are asking for DLCs instead of a 20xx full version)

Not sure if that's true. I'd love to read a more detailed analysis on history and driving forces behind the current DLC fashion. The way I see it, it's what the companies figured is a better way to extract money from players - instead of spending a year or three on another game, they can release a bunch of smaller DLCs every few months.


I've never seen anyone comment on this, but games used to cost $60 15 years ago and $60 today, but back then it was more money due to inflation. If they sell the same number of copies at full price, they make less money, and selling a game at straight up more than 60 dollars would be weird at this point

1Password is leaning HARD against one-time sales now.


Yeah, this is the sort of thing that might push me to the open source lifestyle. Now if I could just get a decent Linux laptop...

Actually, that might be the only thing holding me back. 100% of my computing is done on a laptop. I'd have to start using desktops again to get a decent experience.


The music industry don't have to pry the music library of your hands. You will eventually die. They get the kids young and hooked instead.

On this note, I fully expect that after my death my kids will be able to listen for free anything of my music that they'd enjoy, just as I am able to listen to my grandfather's records.

The earlier physical/analog artifacts could degrade with time if not properly preserved, but anything that's ever sold digitally will last until the copyright expires; the songs ripped from CDs that I bought in 1990s will be available to my family forever.


This sounds like the description of a drug dealer.

Sounds a lot more like religion to me.

I used to have a fairly immense CD collection. That was great and all in that I had full control of my music, in as far as I could rip it to MP3 and then load it onto my iPod (at the time) or lend it to a friend or whatever else.

Now I'm a massive Spotify user (and fan). It has given me the ability to listen to a huge range of music that a. I couldn't afford to buy and b. I couldn't afford to keep in physical format.

Most of my old CDs haven't been listened to or touched in a long time, partly because I can stream that music on my phone and but mostly because my tastes in music have changed, also that they're all now sat in my parent's loft gathering dust.

For the vast, vast majority of the music I listen to, I'll happily use Spotify and I don't have this great big anchor of a CD collection following me around. I can have most music I'd ever listen to always to hand almost whenever and wherever I am. And I don't have to deal with backing up MP3s on external storage.

I must say, I feel like I've got more control over my music than I ever did with a massive CD and MP3 collection following me around.


Richard Serra's most controversial piece, Tilted Arc, was removed after 8 years from a plaza in front of a building in Manhattan because "those who worked in the area found the sculpture extremely disruptive to their daily routines, and within months the work had driven over 1300 bureaucratic employees in the greater metro area to sign a petition for its removal."

"Serra states that the case exemplifies the U.S. legal systems preference towards capitalistic property rights over democratic freedom of expression."

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tilted_Arc


>Companies like Adobe decide to not sell licenses anymore, rather to rent access monthly. Not that I use Adobe, but Feedly dinged me for $69 for their Pro option again this year. Do I really need to pay yearly for a damned RSS reader?

I've come around to the subscription model. Customers are not satisfied with the 'single purchase' model. They want to purchase the product, and also purchase lifetime updates. Its not really sustainable to sell software at a fixed price point while providing free updates. I would rather companies do the subscription model than give stuff for "free" and then do other unethical anti-privacy things.


It depends on the product and the person. Google Music has saved me money. I listen to quite a bit of music and was averaging about $200/year on buying CDs. Now, I average about $50/year + my $120/year subscription.

As bonuses, I get my catalogue easily sync'd across devices, easy access to new music, and youtube ad-free.

I don't mean to discount your view, I just wanted demonstrate that there is a rationally minded market for these services.


Difference here obviously, is that when you stop paying, you no longer can listen to music.

This is a trend that I've maintained for 15+ years. I don't expect it to change anytime soon. I am subject to them dropping content that I care about, but anecdotally, I don't recall that happening with anything I listen to in the few years I've subscribed.

My point here is that $200 on CD's you have forever. $170 on a service, you have nothing. Yes, it's very convenient, it just that it's ephemeral.

IIRC Google Music had a lifetime cap (2 times) on downloading your MP3s. Is that still the case?

No... kind of. They have a 2 time cap on downloading from the web client. If you install their app, you can download unlimited times.

Ah, but can you copy that file to the PC?

Yes, it's a chrome extension and downloads the file unencrypted directly to a directory of your choosing.

>If the industry manages to wipe out individual track sales, I will pirate music. I would hate to go back to those days, but it's preferable to not having control over my music.

But it's not your right to have this music and you're just stealing it. They're not taking anything away from you, you're just deciding you'd rather steal it than pay for it.


No. I'd rather pay for it. But if they don't want to sell it to me then I'm not going to go without. Music is not like bread. But I'd steal bread too if it was a choice between that and starving.

This is kinda off-topic.

Why does that matter? The OP sparked off an interesting thought in the parent and it’s relevant - highly relevant too - enough to share it.

I find this quote is always used in a really over the top way. I don't find free services that show me ads I can easily ignore scary. People talk about ads and recommendation systems like they're going to brainwash you into buying things you never actually wanted as if you have zero critical thinking skills.

So

When the real product is eyeballs on ads

You start to optimize for that.

You get users to keep reloading. You get users to stick around. Because the more pages they load, the more money you make.

It doesn't matter why people keep reloading. Doesn't matter if they're being shown things they really need. Doesn't matter if they're being shown truth or lies. Doesn't matter if they're reloading a lot because they're in the middle of a flame war. Doesn't matter if they're left happier or stressed out by using your product.

It just matters that they saw a lot of ads.

This is why the much-loathed algorithmic timelines happen: here's something a lot of your circles spent time engaging with, maybe you'll like it too! Stick around. See more ads.


Not completely untrue. But if the model is a paid subscription the same pressures apply: doesn't matter why the user keeps paying their subscription, so long as they pay. Incentives are almost never perfectly aligned between information providers and information consumers. .

The incentives for "as long as you're happy with our services, you'll keep paying us" may not be 100% aligned with user interest (see: services difficult to unsubscribe and so on) but they seem much better than the alternatives.

But doesn't "as long as you're happy with our services, you'll be using our product and we get to show you ads and make money" work the same way?

At first, probably, yes. But then you start to optimize for different things, because the interests are not aligned : you want "engaged eyeballs" on your service, which may or may not be best for the user. Hence tactics like gamification, notifications, the whole Hooked model, and so on.

Of course we can debate on the definition of what is "best" for the user. Maybe users like and need clickbait headlines and fake news. But to me it's just a softer version of "Maybe users like gambling machines and being addicted to cigarettes"


If you think ads don't work in you it means they are doing a great job in lying to you and deceiving. Ads and marketing are more subtle than you can imagine.

Some example: * You don't need to change toothbrush every 6 months, that's BS. Toothbrushes are plastic they are going to last hundreds of year more after we are all dead. * You don't need to put so much toothpaste on your toothbrush, it was Colgate ads that started showing people putting a fat and thick long toothpaste on toothbrushes to encourage more use/consuming of toothpaste. * The alkasetzer guys wanted to double sells, what did they do started showing commercials of people throwing 2 tablets instead of one. * Also shampoo and hairproducts, they started showing people putting a ton of shampoo in their hands and making bubbles in their head. Actually you don't need that much shampoo.


I'm sure you're right in general, but I notice a huge difference between a new toothbrush and one that's I've used for a couple of months. The bristles are stiffer and straighter. If my gums are sensitive, the new one will make them bleed, which is probably a good thing.

Sure, it hasn't physically decomposed, but there's no reason to expect a $1 piece of plastic to keep the same performance after hundreds of thousands of abrasions in a wet, acidic, bacteria-ridden environment.


Bleeding gums are NOT a good thing. Bleeding gums may be a sign of inflammation, gingivitis, which ultimately could lead to loss of teeth if untreated.

Always go with the softest brush you can find, to spare your gums, and also try not to use all that much tooth paste. You really don't need more than just a thin flat spread over the brush, or a ball about the size of a small pea.

If your gums often bleed after brushing, you should go see a dentist. Even if it doesn't happen every day, please go.

Source: my father is a dentist and I worked for him a number of years in the past, so picked up a few things.


He's not my dad, but that's pretty much exactly the opposite of what my dentist said. Yes, healthy gums don't bleed, but if they do that's usually a sign you're not brushing enough.

I'm struggling to see how what you're saying is the opposite of what I'm saying – bleeding gums are bad, period.

You can be brushing every day and still have bleeding gums, probably because your brush is too hard but possibly because of bacterial build up causing inflammation. A dentist will do a simple test to check your gums and can tell you straight away whether your gums are ok or not.

My point being, bleeding gums are just not a good thing, ever. It doesn't have to mean you have gingivitis, you could just have nicked them with too hard a brush or whatever, but you should still look it up if it happens regularly when brushing or flossing.

And obviously you should brush at least twice a day, and also floss daily (full disclosure: I'm a hypocrite on the flossing, but I try to be better) – if you eat / drink particularly acidic foodstuffs you'd do well in brushing after ingesting this as well. Brushing after every meal can be inconvenient or even difficult (I don't always bring a tooth brush to dinner) but some sugar free chewing gums are a decent enough substitute.


Bleeding gums are a bad symptom is what you're agreeing on.

You're saying "That should never happen".

He's saying "That's nice, but frequently when I switch to a new toothbrush it happens".

Meaning that his old one was no longer cleaning his gums properly. Hence his original proposition that one needs to change toothbrushes more every few months.


You misunderstood the post you are replying to.

Gums bleeding with a new toothbrush means the old one wasn't cleaning well and the "good thing" is it's a good thing the switch was made as now the oral hygiene is improved.


This is a great point, and I wish stuff like this was talked about more often.

I think I often naively assume that advertising only exists to encourage us to buy one product in preference to another. Of course, as you say, it's much more insidious than that: they are aiming to change cultural norms about the use of their products. It doesn't matter if that helps their competitors too - if they grow the overall size of the toothpaste market then it's worth it.

I'm sure there are many more examples like the ones you mentioned. The most famous one I can think of is the notion of diamond engagement rings being invented by a diamond company.

I wouldn't be surprised if conversations like the one in this comedy sketch really do happen [0].

[0] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=brU_Pp-20g0


Deodorant occurred because of marketing - https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2017/02/14/odorono-ads-m...

A more modern attempt, selling women on the need for douching, largely failed.


I guess if you shower twice a day, live in a cool climate and have a sedentary lifestyle, you're probably OK.

But for the rest of us, having a helping hand to cover up excessive BO is actually quite helpful.


I actually wasn't passing judgement on either product, whether marketing did good or evil in either case, etc.

I was merely commenting that here are two very similar products, both purporting to be hygiene related, both appealing to "what will other people think?", and one caught on massively (though, per the article, after some initial pushback), while the other has all but died out except in jokes. It's interesting that one caused a major cultural shift (which you yourself are a product of; it's not that you didn't smell in the past, it's that -people expected it-. Much like in many non-western countries; if you go there you'll curl your nose at the BO, but to the residents they don't even notice. It's also why that's a stigma to immigrants here in the US; some immigrants come from places where deodorant simply does not exist), and the other did not.


Good points.

I would also add that people from other parts of the world tend to have different body odor, which can be more noticable.

For instance, I've heard complaints that we Scandinavians tend to have a slight sour milk tinge to our BO, while immigrants from countries like India have a more "spicy" BO.


The best thing that I've found for getting rid of body odour is to wash with bicarbonate of soda. Just buy a large pack and instead/in addition to soap.

Deodorant sprays are just perfume which attempt to cover up the smell, but don't get rid of it. So you end up smelling of both deodorant and body odour.


That's why I use a neutral antiperspirant without perfume.

It is exactly that attitude that's the result of advertising. People didn't always think that body odor stank.

I wouldn't say I'm outright rank-smelling at the end of a day, but it's not a pleasing scent.

Personally, I avoid the over-perfumed variants, I prefer something that just cuts down on odor, without adding too much of its own. There's a nice line of perfume-free soaps and such available here, under the brand name "Neutral".

I also don't poop in a hole in the ground.


People also didn't always think teeth brushing was necessary.

It could be argued that it was significantly less necessary before we started eating so much refined sugar.

Diet (garlic is the well-known culprit, but onions, spices, and dairy products can also have significant effects) and genes are major factors as well.

And I would absolutely hate to give up said foods, personally.

Well the argument I've heard (but I don't know if it's true or not) is the cultural expectation of covering up BO was invented by marketing. That BO is is disagreeable and something that needs to be covered rather than just a natural part of life was what was "invented" by marketing.

You took at face value that BO is bad, but that's a cultural expectation, not something "natural" or inherit of humanity. Some other cultures probably don't find "body odor" to be objectionable.


People also used to empty their chamberpots into the streets, and didn't find the odor particularly objectionable, because it was just "part of life".

Interesting point but do you not find most kinds of ads to be fairly harmless though? Ads for food delivery services, mattresses, shaving, website hosts, soft drinks etc. I do find the example of ads turning body odour into a profitable problem compelling but this seems like a very exceptional example that doesn't happen often.

I think focusing on the worst most deceitful and manipulative examples in history isn't a good way to evaluate the overall merits of something.


> If you think ads don't work in you it means they are doing a great job in lying to you and deceiving. Ads and marketing are more subtle than you can imagine.

-OR-, you're an ad blocker who's been an ad blocker for a long time.

When you aren't exposed to that crap on a very regular basis, if you're like me for example who uses paid apps for nearly everything on my phone and an ad blocker on all but a very small number of websites I trust, seeing ads can actually be weird.

The only app I use that has them is a biking fitness app where the only way to get rid of the ads is packaged with a bunch of other features that aren't worth the $99.99 a year subscription fee, so I almost never see them except for this one app and it's genuinely weird when it happens.


> If you think ads don't work in you it means they are doing a great job in lying to you and deceiving. Ads and marketing are more subtle than you can imagine.

I'm aware ads influence everyone in some form, I just don't think the influence is so strong to me that it's going to make me do anything majorly against my best interests.

> Some example: * You don't need to change toothbrush every 6 months, that's BS. Toothbrushes are plastic they are going to last hundreds of year more after we are all dead. * You don't need to put so much toothpaste on your toothbrush, it was Colgate ads that started showing people putting a fat and thick long toothpaste on toothbrushes to encourage more use/consuming of toothpaste. * The alkasetzer guys wanted to double sells, what did they do started showing commercials of people throwing 2 tablets instead of one. * Also shampoo and hairproducts, they started showing people putting a ton of shampoo in their hands and making bubbles in their head. Actually you don't need that much shampoo.

My issue with these examples are 1. these kinds of products are cheap and 2. using a bit more than you need isn't likely to have negative impacts, so therefore I'm not going to dedicate a lot of time into researching these things. For expensive and important products (e.g. laptop, phone, mortgage, anything to do with health) I'm going to treat ads as a very bias source and look for more objective sources.


But that's exactly the trick. Stuff that people consider very expensive and important (like laptops, homes, etc.) will always get scrutiny. Marketing departments in those areas look for different solutions. But if some companies can make everyone pay 2x for cheap things you use daily, that still is 2x the profits for them (and a 2x expense for you, which you may not notice because it's made from small amounts distributed over time).

> But that's exactly the trick. Stuff that people consider very expensive and important (like laptops, homes, etc.) will always get scrutiny. Marketing departments in those areas look for different solutions. But if some companies can make everyone pay 2x for cheap things you use daily, that still is 2x the profits for them (and a 2x expense for you, which you may not notice because it's made from small amounts distributed over time).

I really just don't feel it's a big deal and I tend to avoid big brands. It's not time efficient to scrutinise every small purchase anyway when most of those kinds of products are roughly the same. I'm not going to get tricked into spending so much money on toothpaste, shampoo etc. that it will have an negative impact on my life.

Yes, I understand ads influence, but I think people go really over the top about it using terms like "brainwashing" and "unethical".


> You don't need to change toothbrush every 6 months, that's BS. Toothbrushes are plastic they are going to last hundreds of year more after we are all dead

Probably dead from the fauna that healthily develops on the toothbrush after some time ;) But the toothbrush will survive indeed.


It's not about being scary. Why on earth would you think that?

It's about creating cognizance of the fact that someone else is making money off your behavior. You can be scared of that if you want, but creating that fear is certainly not the aim.

I personally think things which increase people's general cognizance of the world around them are net goods. There's damned little enough of that as it is.


> It's not about being scary. Why on earth would you think that?

Telling someone they've been tricked and have been turned into a product is ominous sounding to me.


It is ominous. You are being farmed. If you are not aware what the service is costing you, you are being exploited.

Are there some more benign terms to use to spin this? Or are the correct terms negatively loaded for a reason?

This is particularly important if you believe minors should not be able to enter contracts. By using 'free' services, they are selling something unknowingly, maybe something they can't get back. "additional terms or product requirements (including age requirements) may apply" is there for a reason; an attempt to avoid liability.


> ...to me.

That's your choice, consciously or otherwise.

There's no trickery here. It's not like this is being hidden from people. It's just not widely recognized.


Sin of omission vs commission..

When a cop doesn't explicitly read you your Miranda rights because they want you to incriminate yourself by delaying access to counsel, they aren't lying per se. You are expected to know that cops can exploit you but you, naively, expect good faith behavior from them.

FD - see my profile.


If you had any idea about what goes on behind the scenes you would think it is scary.

I'm reminded of the Otto von Bismarck quip about laws and sausages.

This is why I have zero qualms about using ad blockers, blocking third-party cookies, white-listing first-party cookies, and, and, and... An industry with as demonstrably unclean hands as online advertising deserves to die.


It's far scarier than you have considered. Is it going to ruin you as a person? No, but it creates an incentive structure which is warped.

Consider media (news or otherwise). If ads are how dollars are made then quality, and accuracy, is only important in so far as it serves as a vehicle for bringing in eyeballs. Consider 3 different examples of content. The first is expensive to make but high quality and people value it highly, they consider it extremely important. The second is inexpensive to make and low quality, people don't care about it much if at all. The third is also inexpensive and low quality but people generally dislike it.

The important thing to understand here is that ads incentivize the 2nd and 3rd types of content over the first. When people pay for their content directly they will pay more for higher quality and more important content (if they are able). When content is just a vehicle for advertising it's much easier to turn a profit on content that is easy to produce and yet has a mass appeal (clickbait, humor, tabloids). And, as we see, that's the sort of thing that becomes plentiful easily today. Stuff that takes a lot of work to get right struggles while stuff that is trivial and salacious blooms.

And that's only the tip of the iceberg.


My concern is mainly that my attention is such a huge source of revenue for facebook. So much so that their advertising revenue is consistently several times more than their actual cost of revenue [0][1]. The gap is so wide, it's hard not to feel like I'm being robbed every time I see an ad on one of these "free" websites.

[0]Earnings release: https://investor.fb.com/investor-news/press-release-details/...

[1]Q1 2017 income statement (excel spreadsheet): https://s21.q4cdn.com/399680738/files/doc_financials/2017/FB...


It's the ubiquitous and often insidious profiling of everything you do that's scary. The ads are just part of the mechanism of how the profiling is paid for and delivered. The data about what you do, as the basis of a model of your future behaviour, is what has the potential to be incredibly damaging.

A better quote is "Privacy is a currency for which you don't know the exchange rate"

I think it is better, because you are a customer, you just don't pay with cash. Instead you pay with your privacy, and as normal users, we really don't have a good concept of what that is worth.


The whole point is that even if they are easy to ignore for you, they aren't easy to ignore for others.

I find it callous to decry the poor decision-making of poor people, eg: someone buying a fashion accessory when they're struggling to pay rent, and then go on to defend advertisers in a cavalier buyer-beware kind of way.


I know right? Additionally, ads do serve an economic purpose. As a reductio ad absurdum, picture a world with all advertisement banned. If you were an inventor or innovator who came up with a superior product or streamlined some process and inclined to start your own business to compete on cost or quality, your options are a lot more limited if you can't buy ads.

People are rightfully concerned about the privacy invasion from precisely targeted ads. But they should decouple that concern from the benefits of more targeted ads which are more efficient, because that benefit is real. It does not just benefit businesses either (which are, after all, owned by people in the end), advertisement will increase consumer surplus in many cases as well.


I think you have an idealized and false idea of what advertising is.

I don't remember ever seeing an ad showing a new invention. That is actually not the purpose of advertising. You can't understand a new concept in the time lapse of an ad. In fact, you'll see that new inventions normally become popular via other means (targeting niches firsts via specialized magazines, conferences, etc.) and only use advertising when they already have an established business and market.

The fact is, most advertising is just about manipulating peoples feelings. The first kind is about brand aggrandizing, trying to change how people feel about a specific brand--this brand is "quality", "fresh", "young", "elite", whatever. The second one is about stimulating demand, normally trying to make people need things they did not need before: "you are fat! buy our cream!", "your life is boring! buy our holiday packages!", "you look ugly, buy our clothes!", "you could be healthier eating our pro-active meta-splendidous yogurt!", etc. In either case, the goal is to make you feel bad, incomplete, until you spend your money on more shit.

Personally, I would love to live in a world with almost zero advertising. I am from Spain and one of the things I love about Berlin, where I live, is the low amount of advertising in the streets compared to anywhere I lived before. That is changing slowly though. But I have seen pictures of DDR Berlin and there is literally no ads. Of course, sadly that package came with the STASI and other horrible things. That aside, I would love to be able to walk the streets without having to look at ads telling me to buy shit over pictures impossible women in lingerie, rich men in expensive cars, smiling youngsters partying together, families on vacation in the Bahamas, etc. I know people that consider such world dull, gray, etc. But for me, it would bring some kind of new zen to urban life.

Ironically now, thanks to the Internet, advertisers themselves (and security agencies) are tracking our lifes in ways the STASI could not even dream of. The grass is always greener on the other side, but if you try hard enough you can always get the worst of both worlds.


São Paulo, in Brasil, actually banned billboards and other static advertising a decade ago, under its "Lei Cidade Limpa" (Clean City Law). I've never been there, but it seems to be holding up, despite some trying to evade it on technicalities (like projecting ads onto building walls).

https://www.flickr.com/photos/tonydemarco/sets/7215760007550...


Concerning DDR Berlin: That era of time was operated in planing mode. Plans were made what to produce in what quantity. There was in theory no need for ad because there was little choice what to buy.

Still I sympathisize with your comment in a very positive sense.


I'd agree with you if ads were only about discovering new products. But the vast, vast majority of advertisements we are fed everyday are about products we already know about. "Ford is selling cars! They come out with new ones from time to time." Seriously? You don't say! "Merck has a yet another drug for some disease they made up." Wow, really? Who knew? Coca-Cola is selling the same sugar water they've been selling for decades." Come on--get real, not Coca-Cola!

Advertising, and in particular online advertising is but one way of spreading the word about a product.

If there were no ads, information about products would spread through specialist magazines or website, word of mouth, fairs, etc. Almost anything is better than an ad, which nowadays is just some abstract crap designed to feel one connected to the brand.

Take the latest Google phone ad: it consists basically 99% of people doing (arguably) interesting things. It barely tells one what the product is and why it's useful. That's what ads are nowadays, attempts at emotional manipulation.


> Take the latest Google phone ad: it consists basically 99% of people doing (arguably) interesting things. It barely tells one what the product is and why it's useful. That's what ads are nowadays, attempts at emotional manipulation.

As a counterpoint: if you consider that emotional manipulation, then there are many people (myself included) who enjoy being emotionally manipulated. I often consciously choose to "reward" ads that captured my attention in the first 3 seconds by not scrolling by or skipping them, and letting them get their full impression on me. Good on them for being interesting.

I rather like feeling connected to the brands I enjoy.


Great! So you wouldn't mind deliberately searching for and accessing such ads, much like everyone else does for the content they enjoy, right?

That's a weird cognitive jump.

On the one hand, to answer your direct charge - I absolutely don't mind seeking out and accessing some ads (I've gone to some brands' website or YouTube channel - such as Old Spice - just to watch their ads before, and I've sought out Superbowl ads to rewatch because they're funny).

On the other hand, as a dialectic note, I find your reasoning to be strange and fallacious (specifically, a fallacy of excluded middle or false dilemma). I don't see any reason why someone must be compelled to seek out things they enjoy instead of enjoying them passively. Phrased another way, it is possible to enjoy things as a passive exercise when they would become tedious or unenjoyable as an active exercise. You don't seem to acknowledge this possibility.


I absolutely don't mind seeking out and accessing some ads

I wasn't doubting you. So do I.

I don't see any reason why someone must be compelled to seek out things they enjoy instead of enjoying them passively.

Let me guess, you're one of those guys listening to loud music on the bus that everybody despises?

In order for you to enjoy content without making any active effort, everyone else must be forced to watch it too. Imposing costs on everyone for a slight personal convenience is generally regarded as anti-social behavior.

Phrased another way, it is possible to enjoy things as a passive exercise when they would become tedious or unenjoyable as an active exercise. You don't seem to acknowledge this possibility.

I didn't, because that's besides my point.


No, that would be a waste of time. I'd rather just watch it as a form of payment for the thousands-of-dollars-worth of free services I access every day.

> I rather like feeling connected to the brands I enjoy.

How does that enrich your life?


> How does that enrich your life?

I don't know, that's kind of a heavy question for what feels like minutia to me. I don't really ask myself if every single thing I enjoy explicitly enriches my life.


the latest Google phone ad

The Google ad in the UK is basically "hey guys! Girls will be really impressed if you show them this phone!" It's really quite off-putting


You can visit that world right now if you want. It's called Cuba. A couple of weeks there and returning to the ad-soaked West is VERY weird, let me tell you...

> As a reductio ad absurdum, picture a world with all advertisement banned. If you were an inventor or innovator who came up with a superior product or streamlined some process and inclined to start your own business to compete on cost or quality, your options are a lot more limited if you can't buy ads.

Yeah, I don't understand what people who peddle this quote expect individuals/companies to do to get their product noticed if ads are unethical apparently. You're just meant to rely on word of mouth starting from nothing? I don't see what's wrong with telling people about your product to see if they're interested. Ads in specific newspapers, posters in a street, handing out leaflets in a certain area, ads during a specific TV show etc. are all forms of targeted marketing as well.


I think you must have missed the last ~15 years and where the advertising industry has turned more and more to spying on the customers of their real customers for profit. The misconduct of the players in the ad business is legendary.

If I were you, I would try to educate myself before continuing to write here.


Obviously I'm against spying on people. You can show people ads in ways that isn't invading their privacy.

It's not just privacy. It's also attention that's invaded.

Among the many buzzwords of recent years is the "attention economy". It has already existed for quite a long time (newspapers selling ad space are actually selling their readers' eyeballs), but since a few years ago, ad companies have the technology to optimize for maximum attention.

The effects of attention economy can be witnessed in reports of people quitting Facebook temporarily as a kind of detox, or the general uncluttering movement (caused by sensory overload which is in turn caused by attention parasites like social networks, and our generally hectic lifestyle). In my opinion, the costs of the attention economy outweigh its benefits.


> The effects of attention economy can be witnessed in reports of people quitting Facebook temporarily as a kind of detox, or the general uncluttering movement (caused by sensory overload which is in turn caused by attention parasites like social networks, and our generally hectic lifestyle). In my opinion, the costs of the attention economy outweigh its benefits.

I don't think the solution here is to somehow stop people making products like Facebook though...if you're using Facebook to an unhealthy degree and letting it consume all your attention you should work on yourself in my opinion as you'll just find something else to fill that gap. Facebook has had a positive impact on my social life for example and I don't feel addicted to it.


You can, but it's more effective to show them in ways that do invade their privacy, so in the race to the profit (which is as unavoidable as races to the bottom), that's what every eyeball agency, lead by Google and Facebook, does.

Unless this is curbed by regulation, which I think is extremely unlikely for the next 10 years at least, you can safely assume, and should assume, that all ads are privacy invading.


You can, but there's a difference between how we hope things will turn out, and how people are actually behaving in the real world.

The danger comes from the illusion that you are somehow above the influence.

The fact that the companies that sell these ads are wildly profitable suggests otherwise.

Two of those wildly profitable companies, namely Google and Facebook, are monopolies in their niche, and can thus extract a rent that would seem untenable if competition were around.

Are there any other wildly profitable companies that sell ads?


There is no a priori reason to conclude advertisements are brainwashing people based on their profitability.

What's scary is that ads may only be worth a fraction of what people are currently paying for them, and all the free services you use will be immediately underfunded and disappear once this is discovered.

Seeing ads don't brainwash you. Seeing ads that are targeted to you based on the content you consume and your browsing patterns brainwashes you.

Even before the age of targeting, marketing had been very successful at creating demand out of whole cloth by changing the norms of an entire culture. See diamonds[1] and deodorant[2]. If this is not brainwashing, I don't know what is - and I bet you put on deodorant every morning like the rest of us.

[1] https://mobile.nytimes.com/2013/05/05/fashion/weddings/how-a...

[2] http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/how-advertisers-convin...


> Seeing ads don't brainwash you. Seeing ads that are targeted to you based on the content you consume and your browsing patterns brainwashes you.

I know to be extra skeptical of claims in ads and to do proper research before I buy things. Friends and family give recommendations all the time which I apply critical thinking skills to as well...I don't just blindly do things people suggest to me. Have you honestly ever felt you've been brainwashed by ads somehow?


This is an extremely naive point of view. Advertising influences purchasing behaviour and feelings about particular brands.

You can apply critical thinking skills left, right, up, down and sideways, it won't matter if you're flooded with ads for Samsung. And if you somehow figure out that Samsung's products have a tendency to catch fire, Coca Cola will get you. And if you figure out that Coke is sugary crap, one of the other tens of thousands of products will get you.

Because you're probably not applying critical thinking skills to pick your toilet paper, detergent, dog food, toothbrushes, light bulbs and so on and you're not doing that non stop. People that think they're immune to advertising are ironically the easiest to influence, like fish in a barrel.


The far more insidious part of (some) advertising is how it makes "consumers" feel about themselves. Poke that little nugget of self-doubt someone carries (because we all do), and then tell them you have just the thing to make it better. You don't even have to be explicit about it; just show them people onto whom they can project not suffering that doubt, and associate those people, and the fantasy of feeling that way too, with your product.

Cha-ching!

EDIT: phrasing.


Not everyone chooses products based on their feelings. In fact, I often find it quite difficult to find basic products such as the ones you list because what I want is not available among the popular, advertised brands.

Take a heavily advertised staple such as peanut butter for example. How I feel about a brand has zero influence on my selection. And no amount of advertising will change that because there is exactly one brand available in my area which has the combination of features that I want (no-stir, un-sweetened and lightly-salted), so that is the one I buy. I could give examples of other basics like hand soap, toothpaste and paper goods that I choose because competing products failed to meet my needs, not because I "feel good about the brand".

"People that think they're immune to advertising are ironically the easiest to influence". I would be interested to know on what you base this claim, and does it differentiate between mere "belief" that one is immune, and the conscious intent to recognize and reject the explicit and implicit messages in advertising.


Looks like a lot of HNers hate the concept of advertizing itself. Yet, everyday we have a few articles titled "Show HN" doing exactly the same (they can similarly brainwash you, no?)

Not at all, especially when showing the purely technical aspects of a project.

"Show HN" is more like a store display. It describes that something is available. Also, front page space is won by upvotes, not sold to the highest bidder (or so I hope).

Isn't a lot of advertising about the same? (e.g. Our new 'improved' product is now available). So if a lot of new product showcases are stopped, how will people know something's available?

In any case, you (by which I mean a general HN reader) are not paying anything to read the articles, so you are the product here too then? So the 'Show HN' are evil too. They can brainwash you to believe <xyz>.js is much better than <abc>.js, even when it's not.


The known, harmful aspect of advertising is emotional manipulation. Most of the time is unconscious to the viewer.

Informing people that a product exists is not harmful but that's besides the point.


Completely agree with your point. The "Show HN" descriptions, their landing pages, their documentation, their logos etc. are no different from advertising in terms of trying to influence you into trying something out.

I think that "no different" is a stretch here. The way you choose to communicate with someone to achieve an end is important in itself.

For a hyperbolic example, imagine you had a partner who wanted you to lose weight because you'd got fat and found you unattractive as a result. They choose speak kindly to you about how they feel to see whether they can change your behaviour, and own the possibility that you're not interested in what they have to say.

Is this <em>no different</em> to them using some subtly crafted speech (based on their in-depth knowledge of your insecurities, etc.) which creates some shame or self-doubt, whilst not making their real position or motive clear?

Or equally, one of your children's friends wants them to try a new legal high; in case (a) they describe how they find it and what it's like, and in case (b) they use some social pressure about how everyone's into it and it looks cool, etc.

Or you go to your doctor, and she offers you a new drug for your ailment; in the first case she describes the evidence base for it and any potential down-sides in statistical terms you can easily appreciate. In the second, she conjures an image of your ailment worsening progressively until you are a drag on your family and you die resented and alone; this is a possible but unlikely outcome if you leave the ailment untreated.

In all these examples the two paths are no different in terms of someone trying to influence someone into trying something out, but most people would find the first options preferable to the latter.

I think the point is not that all attempts to change someone's mind are manipulation and so completely morally equal, but that some kinds of manipulation are hurtful in themselves either because they are deceptive or because they hurt people.

A show HN post may be trying to manipulate you, but hopefully it is not using deceit or an emotional over-reach to do that.


So my view is, demonstrated by your examples, is you need to use critical thinking and be skeptical in all aspects of life e.g. relationships, work, education, politics, health and especially ads. I don't think anyone goes through life just believing everything they're told.

All communications have an element of truth, bias and maybe manipulation (intentional or not). I don't see how an ad presenting a product in the best possible light (keeping in mind most countries have regulations about ads being misleading which I strongly agree with) is much worse than information encountered from other places. Obviously I'm against manipulative, inaccurate or deceitful ads though.

I mean are you trying to imply most ads are manipulative? Deceptive? Most ads I can think of recently are along the lines of "check out our new product/features" or "our product will save you time and money". I really just don't see what the big deal is.

Show HN posts will make claims about how they'll benefit you and try to charm you with branding. I specifically see trends of apps telling you that their app is "beautiful" for instance which I don't like... Anyway, I don't see anything wrong with people trying to sell their work to you or what you're suppose to do differently.


> And if you somehow figure out that Samsung's products have a tendency to catch fire, Coca Cola will get you. And if you figure out that Coke is sugary crap, one of the other tens of thousands of products will get you.

Will get you in what way? Is a soft drink purchase really that important?

> Because you're probably not applying critical thinking skills to pick your toilet paper, detergent, dog food, toothbrushes, light bulbs and so on and you're not doing that non stop.

I read customer reviews, industry reviews, nutrition information, cost per volume etc. for important purchases. Is it really a huge deal that you might buy one similarly priced soft drink over another because you're more aware of the brand? I'm not saying I'm completely immune to some amount of influence but good ads and brand awareness is not going to make me spend a lot more money than I would have done otherwise.


> I don't find free services that show me ads I can easily ignore scary.

Please tell me how to ignore google search and google maps.


By using duckduckgo and openstreetmap. I've been using both for many years and they are quite good, I would say.

On iOS luckily enough I found Apple Maps to have crossed the good enough threshold for most of my purposes and area, except for the occasional live and timetable transit info.

Google search: alight your eye on the first result that is not clearly and distinctly marked "Ad" (you may have to scroll.)

For example I did this search since I expected it to be heavily ad-based:

http://i.imgur.com/j4ezbjF.png

everything above the fold (visible in my browser) was an ad. I then scrolled down and got to the organic search results:

http://i.imgur.com/hlVB36Q.png

Those are not advertisements. There is nothing to ignore. Google is not paid to show me those, and they fight link-spammers every day to attempt to get the best organic results.

I find Google's search results ads to be exceedingly easy to ignore. I also find them useful and sometimes click them.


I think seanwilson is saying that the ads are easily ignorable.

By like ... not using them?

tl;dr version: There are versions of this quote going back to the 70's, starting with one by artists Richard Serra & Carlota Fay Schoolman. But the modern incarnation seems to have sprung from a comment on metafilter that became popularized when Tim O'Reilly tweeted it out (with attribution) in 2010. Here's the tweet:

https://twitter.com/timoreilly/status/22823381903

I thought it was interesting to see the history of this.


"In essence, the private media are major corporations selling a product (readers and audiences) to other businesses (advertisers)."

― Noam Chomsky, Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media (1988)


> You are the product of TV.

Off topic of course, but there is a deeper double meaning there -- that your your personality, preferences, hopes, dreams are shaped by the media you consume. Things like what you think success is, what you think happiness is, heroism, kindness, friendship etc many of those things were shaped by the movies you saw, books your read, games you played.

It's common to hear that "you are what you eat". That's true at the physical level of course. But this is also true that "you are the media you consume".

Now to the topic at hand. I think any totalitarian or brutal government regime would salivate getting access to the data people freely and voluntarily share with Google and Facebook. Imagine a combination of a Stalin's regime and Facebook as a partnership. Or Google working with the Stasi. It's hyperbolic to make that connection today, but with things like watching this happening: http://fortune.com/2017/05/24/mark-zuckerberg-disrupt-for-pr... we are getting just a bit closer to it. People are wondering why a tech guy like me doesn't have a Facebook account and that's one of the reasons.


> That's true at the physical level of course.

No, not really, this is way too simplified and is factually incorrect. Lets take the example of a pig. If you eat a pig you don't become a pig. Certainly not overnight.

Here's a more factually correct analogy which does explain what happens:

Whatever you throw in your stomach (engine) gets burned and becomes fuel. If you regularly throw in too much fuel, the engine becomes overburdened and you become overweight (+ other obesitas related diseases).

That's a rather subtle but significant difference.

> But this is also true that "you are the media you consume".

The same is true here. Its not a A -> B process; the process is much more subtle, nuanced, and complex. E.g. here's also other aspects such as genes and personality which meddle w/the process.


Is this quote the difference between Google and Apple?

With Google, you are the product - you pay $ and have your data harvested and used for advertising. With Apple, you are the customer - you pay $$$ for a locked down, secure (they try?) system, that doesn't sell your data.

I grew up as an Apple hater (no particular reason), but now that privacy is becoming more of a concern, it seems that the Apple ecosystem offers a better product? Am I being naive about Apple?


I can't say that I pay anything to Google and I've used their products for years. I haven't purchased anything through them directly, so it's unfair to say "You pay Google and they harvest your data for the privilege." I'm aware that they're providing a "free" service to me (Gmail, search engine etc) and in return I "pay" in personal data.

You are not the product, your attention is the product. Companines like Google are not engaged in human trafficking.

Similar problems can be seen in management : thinking of human beings as resources. Human beings are not resources, their time spent advancing the company goals is


Not sure what this nitpicking is good for.

For the moral argument, I don't think it makes a difference which part of a human's mind is the product.

This is like saying: "He didn't run him over - only his legs!"

Or, less drastically: "The whole program isn't full of bugs, just the Foo, Bar, Baz and Main functions."


The term 'You are the product' carries heavier connotation than 'just the mind'.

Also in the case of Google it serves a brief span of your attention to advertisers. They are not engaged in selling minds, wholesale or in part. I have enabled Google Search ads on all my machines for this reason. This distinction is worth making, since in some cases, it is an algorithmic matching between buyers and sellers. This helps consumers discover products and services they need and advertisers to discover demand they may otherwise be unable to tap


As a side note, people seem to think there is a corollary: if you're paying, the company is no longer monetizing your data on the other side. Where is proof of this corollary in the real world?

There's no proof that a paying service isn't also selling your data on the side. The only way to prevent a company from selling your data is to not give 'em any!

Like those privacy policies you get from your credit card companies: "Do we share your personal information with other companies? Yes. Is there anything you can do about it? No."

I always laugh at these. At least they are telling me.


Huge shoutout to The Attention Merchants by Tim Wu who invented the term "net neutrality." He's also an engaging correspondent if you write to him.

I cannot recommend a better business book, bar none.


This can be twisted to companies like Google and Facebook, who collect so much personal information about us as users and then sell that data to their advertisers; we literally are products then.

Wow, I didn't know that this quote is so old. I thought that it originated with Google and Facebook in mind.

So did I especially after watching videos like Free is a lie by Aral Balkin that takes this premise and attaches it to the big free tech companies.

I prefer "if you don't have a fork, you're on the menu"

2007: “You are the product.”

2017: “You are the training data.”

https://twitter.com/chrisalbon/status/857609299731791872 - 27 Apr 2017





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