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If you're not paying for it you're not the customer you're the product

There are exceptions to every rule. I'm certainly not saying every free service exists to profit from it's users. I believe in charity and people doing things for the common good. Wikipedia and the Linux Kernel are great examples.

But even with Wikipedia, I would say the "customer" are people who donate1 and what they are "buying" is a world where everyone2 has access to information.

That might be pushing the metaphor a bit too far, but I think it's always worth thinking about who is paying the bills of any free service.

Even this blog, I'm paying the bills3, and the customer isn't the people reading the blog it's me, I'm paying for a platform where I can rant express my self.

  1. As a disclaimer, I have donated to Wikipedia a few times when they do their funding drives. I think it's a worthy cause and I would encorage others to do so too. 

  2. Everyone with an internet connection. For now, but we buy into the dream that one day everyone in the world will have access to information. 

  3. In case you're wondering, I pay $20 AUD a month on hosting with RansomIT and $70 USD per year for the domain name. 

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