What matters is the fair exchange of data and value

Anil Dash isn’t happy that “Yahoo’s not sharing the wealth” from ads placed around photos on Flickr.

Lost in the instantaneous and noisy debate going on over this is a point really worth making:

Today, though, openness around value exchange is as important as openness around data exchange.

For me, the data exchange piece is about practicality. I want the services I use to put me in charge of my data. I want to be able to export my book catalog, an opml file of the feeds I read, and the items I bookmark, so I can use my information however I want. And if I’m going to switch to another service, importing needs to be available or I won’t even consider it.

I also want to understand the motivations of a company or service. How will they use my data? Who will they share it with? How are they going to make money? This is the value exchange part, and this part is messier because value is a fuzzy concept. I need to decide if what I give (in terms of attention, time, money, information) is worth what I get, and if this is a fair exchange. I need transparency.

I agree with Caterina Fake when she said as part of her response to Dash that “monetization strategy or no, the culture of generosity is the very backbone of the internet.” Coming from as it does from a Flickr VP, that sentiment may strike some as odd. I see it more as a recognition of the worth (and necessity) of fair value exchanges.

Flickr putting text ads around photos people upload or view for free doesn’t strike me as unfair. Neither does Dash making money on text ads on his personal site. If these things bothered me, I’d take my time and attention elsewhere.

That’s fair.

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One Comment

  1. [...] Flickr inserts ads in their site for non-paying members. They are making money off of YOUR pictures. The more popular, the more likely they will make money. Yet they are blocking the content they host from sites which have ads. (Read here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here for details about Flickr using ads on their sites). [...]

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