Posted on 2024-02-17

Read Time: 3 minutes | 504 words

You really are the Product.

The adage used to go, “If you are not paying for a product, you are the product.” That isn’t entirely true today, however. Today we often pay for services that are just as ready to sell or appropriate our data as their free competitors. We just sign it away with the click of an okay button.

Well, we finally have a very clear idea how much that data is worth. At least, how much your reddit data is worth. That price: $60 million. $60 million for content farmed from other people via communities supported and managed by volunteers. To call this piracy or profiteering is almost laughable.

This isn’t a call to action, though. Internet rage at this is meaningless. Reddit isn’t actionable. Reddit doesn’t care. The board, Huffman and his cronies already have your content and they will sell it. Every Silicon Valley asshole has made it clear that users are simply profit generation. It doesn’t matter how or why, they will sell everything you give them and gladly make you pay as much as they can while they do.

Rather this is a reminder, that you can stop. You can move on. You can build and find community elsewhere. Sure, there is a fight coming on whether sites can steal and reuse data from other sites as if anything that is now publicly shared is somehow grist for the AI mill. This is why the large sites are blocking their APIs and limiting access. They own your data after all and don’t want to give it away for free. They just expect that of you. The best spot you can be in is to own your content. Move yourself off of large centralized sites and take charge. It’s cheap and you’re not alone in doing it.

If you do use social media or discussion sites, use ones that have a defined plan and policy on who owns your data and how you can control that. Decentralized sites with portability or planned portability are better than centralized models.

A small digression on federation.

I am not going to get into the holy war around Mastodon or Bluesky. I think both are interesting and both have deep issues. Mastodon is more mature and that helps, but Bluesky has an added level of ease that makes it attractive to new users. I am deeply worried about the level of Silicon Valley influence over Bluesky, but I also find that the instance-by-instance control that exists on Mastodon invites factionalization. The ability to decouple an account from an instance is deeply attractive to me. Ultimately, I don’t want my accounts locked on any single instance and I want to be able to move myself and my data at will.

In the end, either is better than the centralized alternatives.

You’ve heard all this before, of course. That is why this isn’t a call for action. It is merely me tapping the sign to remind you that the off-ramp is there whenever you are ready to take it.

Tags: #decentralization  #tech_industry  #ai  #tech_critique 

© Geoffrey Gimse (2024) - Built using Hugo.

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