Stop saying “If you’re not paying for the product, you are the product”

Nicolas Carr:

¨If you’re not paying for the product, you are the product.” If I have to hear that sentence again, I swear I’ll barf.

As Shoshana Zuboff [*] has pointed out, it doesn’t even have the benefit of being true. A product has dignity as a made thing. A product is desirable in itself. That doesn’t describe what we have come to represent to the operators of the machines that gather our signals.

We’re the sites out of which industrial inputs are extracted, little seams in the universal data mine. But unlike mineral deposits, we continuously replenish our supply.

The more we’re tapped, the more we produce.

A contrarian position to be sure. I appreciate the protest to a tired (and tiring) cliché. It does well to point to the two different planes: the commercial and the personal.


[*] Shoshana Zuboff is an American author, Harvard professor, social psychologist, philosopher, and scholar.