This, I hope, will remind people that the business plans of the startups they use are, indeed, their business. They should find out how the company is making money now and what their plans are in the future. They can then make an educated decision whether to participate or not. They can also judge the company by how well they keep their word.
“If you’re not paying for the product, you are the product.” I don’t know who said it first, but the line has achieved a kind of supernatural resonance online. And for good reason – it describes a kind of modern internet company that provides a free service. These businesses are designed to aggregate a large number of users in order to sell that audience’s aggregate attention, usually in the form of advertising. But the more the line is repeated, the more it gets on my nerves.
The other day I was talking to my uncle. He’s my dad’s age, a boomer. I was struggling to explain the importance of Steve Jobs’ death to my generation (“Generation X”, more or less) when this popped out of my mouth: “He was our generation’s John Lennon.” Ever since I said it, it’s been rattling around my brain. Could it be so?
I got my first email address in 1991. I was a freshman at UC Santa Cruz and a friend took me to a basement geek office where you had to fill out a paper form to get your free ucsc.edu email account. In the box labeled “User-name” I started to write “Derek.” My friend stopped me. “Nobody uses their real name.” He said it like he was talking to a child.
Because I’m a media dork, I’ve listened to NPR’s On The Media since its debut. It’s the first podcast I…