Most data doesn't pre-exist = it can't be used for payment or exchange

This post is a response to John’s response to my post entitled “Why you are not paying with your data” (that’s confusing!). I am publishing it on December 27th to make sure that John is away and can’t criticize it further (< machiavellian laughter >). To be fair, John has already received these comments, and in any case, I am glad that we disagree on a few issues. After all, that’s the reason why I have invited him to join me as the Concurrentialiste’s co-author.

In my post, I explained that you are not paying with your data because the vast majority of your data wouldn’t exist if it were not for the use of online services. As you can’t “pay” with something that doesn’t exist when you are not consuming/using a product or service, you are not paying with your data.

John has responded to my post by explaining that users are not consumers, but producers. He took from it that “Thibault is technically right to conclude that we aren’t paying ‘with’ our data,” but that “instead, we’re being paid for our data—just like humans in labor markets get paid for their labor.”

John went on saying that, as a consequence, we are not paying with our data, but we are exchanging our data with the zero-price use of online services. Here again, I disagree with him. One cannot exchange something that doesn’t exist without taking part in the exchange. Imagine two persons. Person A wants to exchange his car. Person B has nothing to exchange in return, but he (< let’s presume he’s a man >) offers to “exchange” his willingness to discuss the deal. That’s information, that’s… data: person A knows that person B is the kind of guy willing to negotiate. Person A can sell that information to person C, yet, no-one would call this an “exchange.”

At the end of the day, we are no paying nor exchanging our data with the use of online services. Because one side in the transaction has found a way to monetize some of the transaction information doesn’t mean that the other side is paying/exchanging with it. Thinking that way would/will lead to severe regulatory failures.

Now, John, let’s settle all that in Miami when you’ll invite me 😉

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