How Free Services on the Internet Are Not Free


Web Ecology studies the relationship of the nature of data and the behavior of actors on the internet.

Core Questions
‣ What is the current state of the data relationship between users and internet companies? ‣ What models or frameworks might influence the way users think about that relationship? ‣ How might those frameworks affect the way users share their data and interact with companies?


Scale of the Data Relationship
500 million active users 90 pieces of content created each month by average user 175 million 42+ products registered users Chrome, Gmail 95 million 11.1 billion tweets per day searches in January 2011 in the US

Race to the Bottom: Free Services Economics
‣ Storage ‣ Bandwidth ‣ Processing Power

Focus has been...
‣ Data privacy ‣ Data ownership ‣ Data portability

...Emerging Conversation
‣ World Economic Forum: “Personal Data: The Emergence of a New Asset Class” ‣ Frog Design: Terms and Conditions blog ‣ Jaron Lanier: “We should pay for search.” ‣ Personal data panels @ SXSW

‣ “But as we use the Internet for “free,” we have to remember that if we’re not paying for something, we’re not the customer. We are in fact the product being sold — or, more specifically, our data is.” - Metafilter commenter


Personal Data: The Emergence of a New Asset Class

Sara Marie Watson
@smwat @WebEcology

Julia Angwin
@JuliaAngwin @WhatTheyKnow

Sam Yagan

Arvind Narayanan



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