Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
xkcd: Instagram (xkcd.com)
332 points by jmedwards on Dec 21, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 124 comments



I think a better comparison would be... a community art gallery opens, they invite all local artists to show their work for free. It becomes more popular then the Louvre and the owner gets fabulously rich, and sells the gallery to MOMA.

One day the new owner of the gallery realizes it's losing tons of money (and taking visitors from it's money making gallery in NYC), and it knows the artists are not going to pay (and maybe can't afford to). So it starts making prints of the artwork and selling them without giving the artists a royalty.


That may be a better comparison, but it's not what you'd say... you know, 'funny'.


The whole idea of instagram was "instant postcards". The idea that they would help you do make these. Not that they would go creep out shots of your family and sell them for a profit to 3rd parties without consent. Or sell your data to be analyzed and fed into behaviroual profiling for junk mail. If they want to charge for postcards, then nobody would complain in this way.

Instagram is (now) just a clever form of social engineering...not a product.


I'd agree if Instagram was widely used for artwork, but it isn't. If Instagram had pictures like Flickr has, then I'd see the comparison


I disagree fundamentally with the message xkcd is saying here. Instagram, facebook, myspace etc all gained traction as basically setting up a website or wordpress site was just not practical at one time. They all give the impression that it's a practical and reasonable alternative. And that's what 99.9% of their users think.

And then of course the funding starts to dry up and the accountants start needing to see some hard $$$$ income. And that's when the ToS start to "adapt" to enable aforementioned sites to monetize "their" content. Oh didn't you know ? It's not your website after all. Sorry ! And thanks for getting your friends on board too !!


Instagram, and other social networks, are fundamentally different than wordpress sites in a number of important ways. 100 million users didn't join because it was an alternative to a blog.

Their funding didn't dry up. They raised a substantial round, and then were purchased by another company that had itself just raised billions of dollars. They didn't need money.

But they did want to make it. Because they're a business.


I'm not sure what your point is here.

Raising money or being bought doesn't give them the revenue streams they need to turn themselves into a real business with a sustainable future. They could have carried on burning through capital sure, but that could only go on for so long and ultimately some sort of direction change was inevitable, whether it was asking users to pay, selling advertising or whatever.


They didn't need money...

-- Huh?

They don't need money. The need to return money to investors.

Big difference.

Here, they are having a garage sale (of other people's stuff) to pay the mortgage on the house they luxuriously live in. Of course, they bought the supplies and furnishings for their house with money from investors. That's why they are trying to steal what is in the garage ans sell it on ebay to marketers/ =D


"They raised a substantial round, and then were purchased by another company that had itself just raised billions of dollars. They didn't need money."

How dare those investors demand a return on their investment!!


"Instagram, facebook, myspace etc all gained traction as basically setting up a website or wordpress site was just not practical at one time"

Really, not practical? My mother had a personal website long before Myspace. My friends in middle school had personal web pages via AOL.

I suspect that the reason Myspace became popular was the social aspect, and the reason Facebook became popular was the combination of the social aspect and the fact that you had to log in to Facebook to see anyone's Facebook pages.


Yes, it is "not practical" for everyone to set up their own site. By "not practical", I mean a site that is easy to maintain and easy to disseminate information through. A website is not much of anything if it's not used.


I just think we should stop using Instagram as a noun. Facebook.com/instagram is a very reasonable name for it now. Anyone have any objections?


I disagree with your second sentence.

Anyone who can afford a device to take photos and an internet connection has had a lot of practical alternatives for creating their own website or photo sharing site.


This is the first time XKCD has struck me as being ignorant... I'm assuming that it's for the sake of the joke.

People have a right to be annoyed by this, in fact I wish it was more common. Rights to our own creations should not be taken so lightly. So I support the sentiments of boycotters, even though Facebook is well within their rights to make this change. I don't support the attitude that it's unjust, but overreaction is better than none.


I think the punchline here is that it is a Sisyphean task to find (or expect) a "free" web service that doesn't already profit from user submitted content.

I don't think it is making light of people who are annoyed/boycotting... It is making light of the line of thought that companies we give our data to (for free) are ever going to use it for what we want them to, and not what they want to (make money).

This comic is saying that if we care about the rights to our work, don't give the work to anyone.


This comic is saying that if we care about the rights to our work, don't give the work to anyone

Publication is a method of promulgating copyright. When you publish your ideas/images online one you are not "giving" your image rights to instagram (or to any publisher). In the same way, when you make a telephone call, you are not giving your data to the police and 3rd parties (or the phone company) to listen to. Consumers and producers are both better off with "dumb pipes", than this alternative reality. Businesses are continually trying to exploit their position, and are not beyond unethical/shady/opportunistic behaviour. This incident is a sort of 'Exhibit A'.


"when you make a telephone call, you are not giving your data to the police and 3rd parties (or the phone company) to listen to"

There is contention about whether this is the case, now that many eschew land lines: http://news.cnet.com/8301-1009_3-57493811-83/federal-court-o...


Except Instagram isn't and was never designed to be a pipe. HTTP and email are the dumb pipes you are looking for in this situation.


Don't disagree. But rather than being 'dumb' they are being 'too clever, by half'. And that is the problem.

They are grooming their users to be abused, building trust to be exploited. Like pedophiles.


They are grooming their users to be abused, building trust to be exploited.

I believe the comic also asks the question: How many times are we going to fall for this?


And in the case of the paedophile, there is a reason its illegal (in many jurisdictions).


I think you are reading Chad's Garage as a direct analogy to Instagram, which I don't think was the intention. I think it's an over-the-top exaggeration of Instagram. The joke is about the user who expresses outrage over the free service doing something against the users' interests, but isn't even quite willing to stop using it.


The title given is "Instagram", not "Chad's Garage". I got the joke. I would find it funnier if that something were something other than what happened in this instance. It's not sour grapes either, I've never been an Instagram user.


I think the big problem is that social sites create value with a network effect (metcalfe's law). The only reason they are "free" is to drive the network to a size where it can be monetized.


>> Rights to our own creations should not be taken so lightly.

Just like possession of our belongings should not be taken lightly, which is why nobody would actually put all their stuff in Chad's garage. People have already taken the rights to their creations lightly by posting them on a free service.


Okay so, let's accept for a moment that people who put stuff in Chad's garage were being dumb.

How does that, in any way, justify Chad selling your stuff?

Whether or not people were smart trusting Instagram in the first place is an entirely separate issue from Instagram's new TOS.


It doesn't, but that's not the punchline. The punchline is the reaction. People are almost enraged enough to boycott instagram over this.


They should be boycotting instagram after this (or actually, before this). I know full well that any photo I upload to facebook/instagram/etc is no longer mine and the whole world can see it. So I definitely don't store my stuff there, it would be insane.


> How does that, in any way, justify Chad selling your stuff?

You aren't paying Chad to store your stuff, but Chad incurs costs for doing so; Chad has every right to sell some of it to cover his storage costs or just toss it all out on the street. Freeloaders don't have "rights".


Chad has made his garage available for storage without requiring or even requesting a fee. If his next step is to sell your stuff unless you come tote it away--while not actually urging you to do so--one can reasonably draw the conclusion that Chad is a scoundrel who had this plan in mind from the start.


As one should have.


Could he not have asked you to maybe pay something, instead? I mean, it's not "everything's free" and "we're selling your stuff" are the only two options here...


I would imagine it's much easier to get a business to pay for use of their content than getting a free app consumer to crack open their wallet.


People have already taken the rights to their creations lightly by posting them on a free service.

I agree, but only in the sense that they probably haven't read or cared much about the terms. Sharing content is different than giving up copyright. People are sure to reuse and redistribute it, but I do believe in fair use regardless of whether the rightsholder is a big company or an individual.


The "creations" that people are posting are low-res cellphone pics of food and random scenery with a faux-retro filter added. Why so serious?


http://www.forbes.com/sites/parmyolson/2012/12/19/instagram-...

Looks like the National Geographic is doing more with Instagram than just some filters and bad food photography.


I still do not understand the outrage over this. How would the new TOS actually negatively affect the users? What would ACTUALLY happen to them that is so horrible?

Here is a hypothetical:

1. I post a photo of a dinner table at a restaurant that shows some fizzy drinks in glasses.

2. SodaStream wants to post an ad on Instagram, and my photo gets selected kinda like a stock-photo would be selected because it is drink/food related, and it gets shown somewhere on Instagram's website.

Result: my life is not negatively impacted by this in any way, and the world continues turning.

My reaction: If ever saw this happening, my reaction would be "Whoa cool, that's a picture I took! And now tons of people are seeing it, instead of just the 5 or 6 people that normally see my Instagram photos. I'm internet famous, haha!"

The blogo-sphere's reaction: "RAAAAAAAGGGGGGEEE!!!!!!!!!" I ask: "Seriously, what is the big deal here?" They respond: "Just shut up, and RAAAAAAAAGGGGEEEEE!!!!"


National Geographic is building their whole business on their photos. It may be quite reasonable that the previous ToS was compatible with their business, and the new ones, which allow Instagram to get paid for NatGeo photos instead of NatGeo itself, aren't acceptible anymore.

The whole point is not about the majority of dinnertable photos - for those content producers who make quality photos that everybody (not just your friends) want to look at, the content rights are an important issue. And these few users do represent a lot of value, and their leaving would hurt both Instagram and the content consumers.


Not everyone has the same reaction about everything.

For some people, its not cool. And, being unable to buy a controlling stock option in the company to make it obey their wishes, they used the lever of public dissent.

Looks like it worked, too.


From http://www.mcbphotos.com/#/biography

> Over a six-month period in 2011, Brown documented the face of battle in Libya using a camera phone, challenging the standard script for war reportage.

For example:

http://www.mcbphotos.com/#/the-libyan-revolution/vv163

and

http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/2012/nov/16/mobile-ph...

Just because the device is basic, doesn't make mobile phone photography worthless.


And... ? Can this person no longer post photos to Instagram now? What has Instagram done to this person that is so terrible?


I was replying to your comment here:

> The "creations" that people are posting are low-res cellphone pics of food and random scenery with a faux-retro filter added. Why so serious?

... I was just pointing out that some photos are art, not just "creations".


"I don't like some of Instagram submissions, therefore it is all worthless and not worth getting upset over."


That's not what I am saying at all. Maybe I am just doing a poor job of articulating my point. All I am asking is for someone to explain to my WHY this is worth getting upset over?

Here is one of my other responses on the matter, copy-pasted so hopefully you can explain to me why this is a big deal:

[ start copy-paste ]

I still do not understand the outrage over this. How would the new TOS actually negatively affect the users? What would ACTUALLY happen to them that is so horrible?

Here is a hypothetical:

1. I post a photo of a dinner table at a restaurant that shows some fizzy drinks in glasses.

2. SodaStream wants to post an ad on Instagram, and my photo gets selected kinda like a stock-photo would be selected because it is drink/food related, and it gets shown somewhere on Instagram's website.

Result: my life is not negatively impacted by this in any way, and the world continues turning.

My reaction: If ever saw this happening, my reaction would be "Whoa cool, that's a picture I took! And now tons of people are seeing it, instead of just the 5 or 6 people that normally see my Instagram photos. I'm internet famous, haha!"

The blogo-sphere's reaction: "RAAAAAAAGGGGGGEEE!!!!!!!!!" I ask: "Seriously, what is the big deal here?" They respond: "Just shut up, and RAAAAAAAAGGGGEEEEE!!!!"

[ end copy-paste ]


Let me guess: some people cherish their memories. I have some phone pics I cherish, like my kids talking to this Tibetan dog. They are on a drive at home with a backup, but...


"Chad's garage" seems like an appropriate generic term for a web startup whose users are not the company's customers, but it's not clear that anyone else wants to be the customer either.

As in: "-Why did MySpace fail? -They were basically Chad's garage."


Myspace failed because the UI was inconsistent from user to user and better solutions were availible

As in: Im moving to Marks Garage because the shelves in Chad's Garage keeps rearranging


Only Tom sold the garage for quite a lot of money in 2005 but there was no stuff in it, just a dusty list of people who had left the area never to return.


Apparently quite a few local bands had moved their stuff into the garage, spray-painting the walls and keeping loud music blaring all night. This had given Tom the false impression that the garage is a popular nightclub, so he expected to make his money back by selling $10 drinks but it turned out that nobody except stoned band members ever visited the garage.


Then the band members all went to holland to use this modern, well outfitted studio space in a fetching shade of orange. The owners of the studios had the sense to charge them a reasonable fee and so they actually stayed, and all was well.


What site is this? Soundcloud?


Feeble. More like "I got this note from Chad. He sold his garage to a guy who collects interesting things, and is going to let him use my stuff".

But the crux of this is the complaint is not "That's no way to run a storage business". The complaint is "that's a dick move to pull when he invited me to keep all my stuff in his garage, and got rich as a result".


The better analogy is that Chad got rich by selling the well-stocked garage to someone else. The new owner didn't get rich by hosting your stuff, in fact they have paid good money for the privilege and now want to find a way of making that money back.

Facebook is in the hole for one billion dollars on this deal and so far haven't made back a single cent.


Well, in this case Instagram invited us to use their service, and only later (as far as I know) changed the terms to allow them to sell our stuff, so the comparison between Instagram and Chad's garage isn't exactly correct.


When Instagram invited you to use their service you should have considered how they might make some money out of that...


Yes, and the most common way of achieving that is by showing me ads, not by selling my photos. Now, why should I have assumed the latter, and not the former?

Hell, I don't have an Instagram acount anyway...


If people wanted their photos hosted on an ad driven site they existed, if they wanted them on a paid for site they existed too.

But instead they chose one with uncertainty over what might happen and this is what you get.

Sure it might not be what they would have expected but that happens sometimes when you open yourself up like that.


While I wish users would screen services providers before using them, in reality only a very few people actually do this.

And for the few people who actually try to screen services providers, most tend to go against better judgment in favor of convenience.

In the end, it tend to be up to the activists and hackers to fix the problem.


It is correct. Chad never told the user that he'd one day give him a notice about putting stuff up on Craigslist.


I said it the other day in another thread, but just because you pay doesn't mean you've avoided this type of treatment. Remember when cable TV was ad-ree because, you know, people paid for it?

There is absolutely nothing stopping Facebook or Instagram from doing the same shit they currently do, even if they start charging their users. And the services that currently get by on user subscriptions alone will one day have to find another way to grow. And the way they'll do that is by selling ads and monetizing user data.


Remember when cable TV was ad-ree because, you know, people paid for it?

No, I don't. Do you recall how far back this was?


I'm pretty sure MTV was ad-free when it began. Same with HBO, etc. I'm thinking early 80s. I'm sure not every cable channel was ad-free, but plenty of them were because they got enough revenue from subscriptions.

The thing is, services that start out free can't begin charging users without losing more users than it's worth. But services that start out being paid for can easily find ways to grow revenue by monetizing their user base and selling ads, in addition to maintaining or raising subscription fees. Satellite radio is yet another example.


That's the point. Even services that charge you still might pull this kind of stuff.


I don't understand the disagreements.

>Well, I'm this close to not giving him any more stuff.

>That'll teach him.

The point is, unless you're paying them money, you have nothing to threaten them with. You can't stop paying for their service (like you can with other businesses), since you weren't paying in the first place. They're a business and they're not beholden to you in any way.

Maybe it would be more clear if we had another panel explaining that Chad has no job, yet recently took a large loan from the mob. And you still decided to put your stuff in Chad's garage.

The final punchline of course is that you're not going to do anything about it.


>The point is, unless you're paying them money, you have nothing to threaten them with.

That self-righteous attitude being made fun of (i.e. That'll teach them!) is the morose self-righteousness so many of our generation feel these days when they figure out that they aren't the special flower who produces sacred works of art and are rather an id in a database who needs to be exploited for revenue somehow.

No one gives a shit if you stop using Instagram over this perfectly legitimate (in my eyes) move that was unfortunately retracted. Don't announce it over Twitter, because no one is listening but yourself.


Metaphor is a too weak -- The differences between physical storage and social photo sharing are just too numerous.

Chad would have actively promoted that you add stuff to his garage. He'd have also encouraged you to encourage others to put their stuff there -- and he'd have encouraged you to put stuff there on others' behalf.

Plus, somehow, convincing people to put stuff in his garage (greatly, greatly) increases the value of the garage.

So yeah... I know it's a joke, but it's a labored one.


Chad would have actively promoted that you add stuff to his garage.

That would be true if Chad were running a storage service, which he isn't!


SUre, but it illustrates the other side of the coin - the fact you got no rights to stuff in Chad's garage, and that should have been obvious, and you're a sucker to expect better treatment from Chad.


Yeah, how does that work? If someone uploads a photo they took of me to Instagram, can Instagram now sell that to an advertiser and use the image of me without my consent?


It's probably not an easy question to answer: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Personality_rights#United_State...


This is a really weak argument. It glosses over the nuances of what was originally offered from a business , and what they then tried to pivot to. Its one thing If I as an individual let you upload photos to my server, and make you a little front end to share them. It's another thing altogether If I register a business and market a product to you along with specifics about things like price and terms of service, then after I become popular and widely used I switch out the terms of service that we had originally agreed to. This is like a manufacture dumping products on the market, then once all the competitors are out of business raising prices for replacement parts.


All the "dude" has to do is take his stuff out of Chad's garage and he gets to keep it. Same with all the instagram users. If someone is storing your stuff for free, expect it to end at any point.


The issue with that argument is it was (or at least should have been) clear to everyone that Instagram didn't really offer anything "as a business" initially, it was an unsustainable land grab.

That means that the pivot was always going to come, whether it be to an advertising driven model, a merchandising model, a paying user model or whatever.

While I'm not wild about the direction they've chosen, anyone using Instagram should have known that a change was coming and accepted that risk from the outset.


>> anyone using Instagram should have known that a change was coming and accepted that risk from the outset

The ability to perceive a business agenda should not be pre-requisite to use any kind of service that is being offered. Even if the service is free to the user and it implies that the business must get revenue somehow, most people don't get that, and it doesn't mean it's alright to take advantage of them.

Lots of people are ignorant, have low education or are plain naive. They are easy to manipulate, fool and con. Doing so is fine then?


That's the same kind of argument that people use to say you should only buy "American" cars, or read the labels of where your clothes or smartphones were made. It doesn't work.


Two things:

1) I agree they don't but I'm saying they should. I don't think having people understand that there's no such thing as a free lunch is that much of a stretch.

2) The people filling the HN boards moaning about it are generally internet and business savvy and already have the information they need to understand this. I'm not saying they need to be happy about what's happened, but they shouldn't be surprised and should have understood the risk of it happening.


I think this one has missed the point... Chad does everything he can to get people store their shit in his garage and is really proud that so many are using his garage.


But differently from Chad, instagram openly does care if you leave. So you've got leverage to negotiate with instagram, but not with Chad. I don't care if you prefer to label it as users or products or whatever. If they care to keep you, then you've got leverage to negotiate, period. The rest is just subjective semantics.


Well, I would say the difference is that when you put your stuff at your friend's place, he did not say that he may sell your stuff at some later date. If he had told that, you maybe would never have put the stuff at his place at all.


He didn't tell you he wouldn't sell your stuff thought. And you'll notice it's not "my friend Chad" implying a level of trust reserved for friends. It's just Chad. This guy Chad. His garage has nice shelves.


It is still legally theft though to sell stuff belonging to someone else even if it happens to be in your garage.

For it to not be theft you need an agreement which says he may sell it.


You might be right, in the sense that I probably cannot make profit from your stuff you left in my house, although I'm not sure about it.

But imagine this scenario: I don't know you, but I dump a pile of stuff in your backyard. A lot of stuff, with some relatively valuable stuff in it, like copper.

You get home and what? Are you expected by the law to put your sweat and/or money to get rid of that stuff from your backyard?

Or is it perfectly legal to call somebody which will clean that up for you in exchange for the value of the stuff? They might even profit from that (after all that's profit in exchange for work)


No one jumped a fence to place things in Instagram's back yard. They were invited in and told to leave things there.


I have one problem with this comparison: If Instagram would start selling my photos I could still access and display them. I would not lose anything.


Same thing as the "you wouldn't steel a car" analogy. Didn't think XKCD would fall for that mistake.


In this case, the "car" and other garage contents in the analogy equate to the exclusivity of one's legal claims to one's own copyrighted material. Under the Instagram ToS, that would have gone away, in that they asserted a perpetual, broad-scoped license to your copyrights.

A large gulf lies between having individuals infringe your copyright and having the legal ability to enforce that copyright taken away.


Chad offered me and my friends a place on his lot to store our stuff. He told us all about how safe his lot was and how easy it would be to find our stuff.

Now Chad says that to pay his bills in the future he's going to let strangers pay to wear our clothes. And he won't tell us when they do, or how often, or which clothes they wore.

Which I think is cool, because hey, free service, free market, amirite hackers?


"...he's going to let strangers pay to wear our clothes..."

How does this match up with Instagram's TOS in any way? I still do not understand what Instagram is doing that is getting everyone so riled up.


Instagram put forth a new TOS in which they could sell your photos to be used in advertising and you would have no rights over that. They wouldn't pay you for it. They wouldn't tell you when it was happening.

They've since recanted.


Discovered this week when tweeting a link to an old xkcd comic that @xkcd has been registered and has more than 14,000 followers ... and only 1 tweet. (Confirming it was officially Randall.)

Seems to be an opportunity for some simple automation to add some reasonable distribution into the 'Twittersphere', so I was surprised to note it.


Maybe he doesn't want to pass out flyers for his band practice in Chad's Garage.

By publishing on Twitter, he is essentially handing some control over his output to Twitter. Not a lot, but some. By registering @xkcd, he's just protecting his online identity.


There are waaay too many comments in here stating one way or another "this is a terrible comparison! it's nothing like this!"

A.) it's a webcomic, not a lawyers overview of the situation. B.) I think yall are missing out on the joke, which is not the metaphor with Instagram, it's the users reaction that is the punch line. C.) The take from the comic is, if you're not paying for it, don't call it a business, at least not a business where you are the customer.


Does he think he's writing a editorial cartoon now?


If you're not paying for the product, YOU are the product.


I'm getting very tired of hearing this. It's like we make up excuses for startups being dicks. There has to be a way to find business model that involves showing respect for your users and the content they're creating, while still making money on ads, offers, etc.

It also completely ignores the fact that paying customers get ripped off all the time, by the companies they pay money to. In the wider perspective, being a dick doesn't seem to correlate to receiving money from your user-base.

Here's an excellent text about it: http://powazek.com/posts/3229


There has to be a way to find business model that involves showing respect for your users and the content they're creating, while still making money on ads, offers, etc.

I agree with the first part but not the second. What if the best way to show respect for your users is not to pester them with ads and offers, but to let them pay you directly for the value you are giving them?


I think that's my biggest hangup with this. There was never a "Well, we're thinking about doing this with your photos, but we were wondering if you valued the service enough to pay for it instead?"

There would have still been outrage, but people pay to get rid of ads on services all the time.. particularly if they want to continue a streamlined experience. If not, they can tolerate the ads. But using my photos as ads? If I opt-in, sure. But I don't want that by default. I'd rather see something irrelevant than have my likeness potentially supporting a business I don't want to.


I think it's important to keep saying it so that the general population begins to understand it. Eventually it will trickle out. I don't think it has yet. So, while I agree with you that it's an old saying in our circles, your friend's sister may not realize it.


I'd like to see people become more aware of this sort of risk, but I don't think that slogan will take off outside geeky circles, and I don't think we want it to.

There are companies which - by most people's standards - quite reasonably make money from free services. Telling people that they're all stupid sheep for using Google isn't going to get much traction. We need to highlight real problems, like this move by Instagram.

Lots of us also work on open source software, in which case telling people not to trust anything that's free is shooting ourselves in the foot. I don't pay for Linux, Libreoffice or Firefox, but I'm not 'the product' there.


It's not really calling them stupid sheep, but rather a reminder that they are interacting with businesses and they should pause to think about the business model when they do that. It's really about educating, not name-calling.


I hear this slogan a lot, because it implies that if you're paying for the product then you're NOT the product. Which is false and misleading.

(That's "implies" in the English language sense, not the mathematical sense. Substitute "suggests" if you prefer.)


Well of course the reverse is not necessarily true.

!A => B does not imply A => !B .

However I do not think there is any valid business model out there that gives something away for free, without making money off the people that get the freebies.

Essentially even in a freemium model, free users are the product as they are marketing leads.

Accepting that your users are the product does not necessarily mean you should be a jerk to them though.


Wikipedia gives things away for free, and use the halo effect from that generosity to convince people to donate.

You could argue they sell a product under a name-your-own-price model though.


That's a good point. Somebody here the other day said that Google still mines your data on their paid services. I don't know if it's true or not but I would find that surprising and disturbing.


Purely out of interest, when are you the product (when you pay for the product)?

    - newspapers / magazines with ads

    - subscription TV with ads
others?


Whenever you shop at a store like Target or Walmart.


How so?


They mine purchase data. Any store with a "customer rewards" card does as well.


Thanks for answering, I appreciate it. I'm curious how this data is then used by the stores.

The only example I can think of is optimizing store layout based on neighborhood demographics and what those demographics purchase.

However, big box stores all seem so similar - it doesn't appear on the surface that they do a lot of demographic-based differentiation. Unless their demographics are so similar, which defeats the purpose of profiling?


Don't get a discount card. Pay cash. Problem solved.


I doubt the problem is solved that easily. Stores have been known to instruct cashiers to enter information about customers during the checkout process -- age, gender, race, etc. -- and combined with what you buy, there is probably enough information to identify you or to distinguish you from the set of all shoppers. Some stores print coupons with your receipt; it is not all that unlikely that the profile they are building of you as a customer, even without the use of a customer loyalty card, is used in deciding which coupons to print.

In the future, they might even use their security cameras to add some extra data points. Never mind facial recognition; I bet they would only need to track your walking pattern as you move through the store. Some people like to browse. Some people enter knowing exactly what they are looking for. Some people store by going left, others by going right. Maybe the first thing you do is go to the produce section.

Chances are that this sort of data, combined with other data, can be used to identify you even if you never explicitly gave Walmart any identifying information. If Walmart can distinguish but not identify you, they might make more money just selling your profile to an advertiser, who can combine it with data gathered from other sources to figure out who you are (then annoy you). Maybe it's already happening, but I think it will be a few more years before the technology is really that advanced (I have no doubt that this will happen in the near future, assuming no laws to stop it).


Surely it would have made a better analogy if Chad had ended up hiring out stuff stored rather than selling it.


Would we say that WQHT 97.1 FM in NYC is not a music broadcasting business just because it's listeners don't pay for the service? Would we argue that a lot of users threatening to stop listening is meaningless because they can't stop paying the station?


How is it that when it comes to copying corporate owned assets like music the debate is always on how its not theft as the core product remains. Yet now that we are talking about user submitted content that view does not hold.


I've never been to Chad's garage so far and probably ever won't.

One point to see here is that digital things are unlike physical things and can be copied and stored somewhere. You wouldn't even know!


I just wrote about his same idea: http://bckmn.com/pay-for-your-life-online/


I think Chad blinked when he heard the sound of multiple trucks backing up to his garage to collect all the stuff he thought he was going to sell.


when will consumer internet businesses start charging people real money, and when will users realize that they need to open their wallets? there is no free lunch... a direct business relationship (customer x company) is better for everyone.


lol Too true. It's inevitable that any free internet service will have to make money somehow - and if the only asset they have are photos you uploaded, well, they'll use them.


bear in mind that the complaints appear to have worked. instagram reverted their policy, it seems (via the front page at present on hn).


It's funny but the analogy doesn't really hold.


Spot. On. Except Chad wants us to store our crap in his garage. Hmm.


xkcd: often right, rarely funny.


this is actually spot on




Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact

Search: