Respect in the attention economy

March 31, 2016 by Karsten


Many websites and apps do not respect your resources: Bandwidth, screen space and, most important of all, time are wasted.
In addition your data is collected in the background: Which other websites or physical locations you visit, who your friends are, what information you enter etc.. The only resource they seem to respect is your money, because on the surface they are “free”.
But as we all know “time is money” and "knowledge is power". So your data and attention become their profit. And they take as much of it as they can.
All the while implying that you are their respected customer.
Only you are not their customer.
You are their product.
Not the buyer of the sweater but the sheep getting shorn.

This bullshit is the logical consequence of their business models: Products with direct (e.g. websites with banner ads, Facebook) or indirect (e.g. Google Mail) ad-based revenue models have to keep you engaged longer and / or collect more information because then you will produce more wool see more ads and produce more valuable data.
In other words their success directly depends on their ability to waste your time and / or destroy your privacy. Their business models dictate to maximize this effect while being just useful enough to you.

A respectful business model looks different: You pay if you like it. There are no additional parties involved.
And respectful services / apps look different because of it: They are designed to take as little of all your resources (money, data, time) as possible. They offer human-readable terms of service emphasizing your rights, not walls of legalese that limit or remove them.
You truly are the customer.

I gladly pay because that makes me the customer.
Be that a small one time amount for apps or a small recurring amount for continuous services.
Or even a pretty big amount every once in a while for my smartphone and other devices from a company that gets their money directly from me and therefore naturally puts my needs first.

A company's business model is its DNA. It will shape its every move, every interaction you have with them.
So the question is whether it is aligned with your interests or someone else´s.
To find out whether the other side truly respects you just ask yourself:
"Who pays for this? Am I the customer or the product?".