With social media, “We are the product…”

Hat tip to @sboneham for tweeting this one.

Douglas Rushkoff talks about the lack of public understanding about what technologies like Facebook are for; allowing companies to monetise the data that we willingly surrender to them.

I’ve heard Miles Metcalfe say something similar; along the lines of “if you’re using a technology, and that technology is free, then you’re not the customer. You’re the product.”

Rushkoff’s argument is neatly summarised in this promo for his book.

It’s an interesting, critical view on what web 2.0 has actually given us. We’re using it to create connections and prduce our own content but in ways that also created a valuable resource for other organisations that can be bought and sold.

It’s a trade off between having access to these tools and resources and handing our data over to the likes of Google, Facebook, Twitter etc. If we’re happy with that trade off then fine, but we should at least be aware there’s a trade off.

Or, as Rushkoff suggests, develop the skills to shape the tools ourselves.