Midnight Muse: Everything is Free


This month, I’ve done what I should have done a long time ago.  I’ve deleted my Yahoo, Google Buzz, MySpace accounts.  I’m tempted to delete my AIM account too, before AOL goes bankrupt and desperately sells my data to the highest bidder.  Is it too late?


Over the years, I’ve left my digital tracks all over the internet whenever a new web upstart demands my identity and password for the privilege of entering it’s hallowed ranks.   Signing up for some new internet services or social media has been like my crack cocaine, except it was free.  Even knowing the risks of identity theft, I can not help myself.  There is something glorious about being an early adopter.


I’m sort of relieved that there isn’t a shallow way to determine everything I’ve ever signed up for and farm that information.  Or is there?  I wish I were less like some internet cattle to be herded from one site to another.  I wish I could find a way to easily manage everything that has required my identity authorization, similar to the centralized Facebook or OpenId authorization I now take for granted.   I’d like to go back to my internet past and start obliterating any stray strands of my identity, unless this cause is lost as soon as I’ve signed away my identity.


While I like having a central management for my login identity, it is also troubling for the future.  I’m starting to worry that Facebook will get hacked and I will be many factors more vulnerable.  Maybe I will be wishing I deleted my Facebook sooner? 


I note that in this era of free web services, I’m always in search of the next titan free service provider.  Let’s just say that I want to put the brunt of my activities on the winning platform, so I can avoid the debacle of Delicious and Geocities!  Then again, I will also want to hedge my bets by signing up for alternative free services.  Here I am: a most fickle and spoiled feaster of the free services buffet.  However, the nature of getting “free” services induces a hidden cost of being commander of my data (let’s make this synonymous with my identity).


Free is a deceptive cost.  There is no contractual agreement between a freeloader and a service provider, so the freeloader is benefiting from a charity.  The benefactors have made us so enamored that we forget that they do not operate a charity.  What happens when this tacit agreement fails and a major communication provider collapses?  Would this scenario never occur because there must be a newer better service that has syphoned away the business of the older service?  It seems paradoxical that a society gambles everything on something it expects to ultimately fail.


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. bytex64
    Jan 04, 2011 @ 01:23:51

    There’s a good quote I read that goes like "If you’re not paying for a product, you <i>are</i> the product." Servers don’t grow on trees (yet?), so an enterprise must make money somehow, and the most valuable thing on the Internet is your information.Kudos for dropping those services. I’d drop Facebook, too, but I understand the network draw is a lot stronger there.I’m sure you could find a lot about you just by googling your name. Google is probably the most powerful information aggregation tool ever created by man.


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