The debate around the usage of our data as raw material by the big IT corporations is a permanent one. In short… big companies collect our data, the process it, they sell it, and they provide either free or reduced costs services back to us.
Think about Google Maps: whenever I’m moving, I am sending data about my location, but also, and more important, about my speed, my stops, changes of direction – about breaking expected patterns. It is this data that both me and zillions of other Google Maps users allow to be collected that allows to issue warnings about traffic jams and help me avoid unexpected delays.
And that information about possible traffic jams is available to me who drives a few thousand kilometres per year as it is to a professional driver that overs that distance 10 or 20 times on the same amount of time – and hence contributes with 10 or 20 times more information.
“From each according to their ability, to each according to their needs” – so wrote Karl Marx in his Critique of the Gotha Program as a slogan for the higher phase of the communist society.
If we abstract ourselves from the corporate side of Google Maps and focus exclusively on its community of users, what happens here is that I contribute to the “informational cake” with as much as I can and then use that same came as much as need. Just as Karl Marx wrote. Besides a rather small opposition that still has its roots mostly on the left side of the political spectrum (and their opposition is mainly one to the corporate side of this service) most people are quite happy with this arrangement: “Yes, ok, dig what you want from my data as long as you keep your service free”.
Here a question imposes, mostly to those who strongly support this business model (which are basically those who believe in free markets):
If you are willing to pay what you can in order to to get what you need when it comes to a private company, why are you so against doing the same when it comes to society in general?