Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Empires and colonies.

If you understand your world history, you know this: Great empires from the American, to the Roman, to the English, Dutch and French, amassed their fantastic wealth by extracting it (usually in the form of raw materials and labor) from their colonies.

In other words, they took a lot and gave back less.

It occurs to me that taking a lot and giving a little--the Colonial model--is precisely what the Empires of the Web (those amassing great wealth) are doing to us. They are the masters, we the subjects.

This thinking, of course, comes in the wake of Facebook--the most imperial of all web powers deciding to assign us all new--and virtually unchanegeable email addresses, all in an effort to compel its subjects (us) to spend more time on their site and looking at the ads they feed us with our own valuable data.

What's astounding about this "value exchange" between Facebook users and Facebook is that we--the users--don't have anyway of determining how much we are paying for Facebook services. When you fill up your gas tank you know how much the Oilopoly is removing from your wallet. When you buy "The New York Times" you know how much you're paying for their brand of the news.

Web entities have successfully given us the illusion that they are "free." Of course our data, our privacy, our lives are the gifts that keep on giving.

Free does not create billionaires. Never has, never will.

In the process, so-called free services have unfairly competed with analog entities that charged money. "Free" prevailed to the point where finding real news is virtually impossible. Free has forced good out of business. Easy destroyed hard.

Today is the day I leave Facebook. (If I can figure out how.)

I've been their colonial vassal long enough.

The price I'm paying is not worth the value I get.

BTW 1.
Years ago I wrote that Microsoft is following the course of pre-revival General Motors. They are following GM's practice of arrogant stupidity. The worm will turn.

I believe eventually Facebook and even Google will succumb to arrogant stupidity. They might still be popular--in the way Verizon is popular. But they will be despised.

And there's a lot about them to hate.
BTW 2.
Facebook's market cap is about $70 billion. They have about 900 million "users." (They should really be called "usees.") That means Facebook sells $77 worth of data from each of us.


Unknown said...


I deactivated my profile three months ago. I got tired of feeling like a freak-show carnie without pay.

The one thing to do to make sure deactivation "sticks" is to delete all linked websites and applications. If you fail to do so any login into one of those sites will auto-magically "reactivate" your profile. Believe me this is a vital step.

Anonymous said...

Why should it be usees instead of users? Serious question from a Gen X reader of your blog.

george tannenbaum said...

Anon: because we are being used.

george tannenbaum said...

Thanks, Kreig. I never "app-ed up" my Facebook experience, so I think I'll do fine.

Scattershot said...

Indeed a very good thought. LOved the line - usees and not users.

Unknown said...


Actually it's more nefarious then that (oh the tangled web Zuckerberg wove...)

If you used your Facebook as an analogue-login to ANY website (even on a one-time basis) likesay Yelp or Instagram or what-have-you...

You'll need to do the ol' "delete-delete-delete".

I was in the unenvious position of being roped in when it was still a .edu-focused site in 2006. I had to delete some 60 "linked" accounts in their privacy area.

Even onelinkage is enough to torpedo your hopes. Hjink of it as a Michael Corleone-type thing and act accordingly. :-D

Unknown said...

Oh, and — excuse my typoes. Hazards of the iPad. :-)