Don Marti

Sun 14 Feb 2010 07:06:23 AM PST


As we all know, swine are intelligent and thoughtful animals. They're omnivores, and resourceful rooters. It turns out that the same qualities make them excellent bloggers. Lately, the hog blogosphere (hogosphere?) has been full of complaints about the new privacy policy at Hormel. Apparently, hogs are concerned that the company's new technology, Hormel Buzzsaw, has an inadequate and dangerous privacy policy.

The problem is that the hog is not the customer at Hormel. The hog is an ingredient. Now, the hogs probably have a point about the unfairness of their situation, since they can't choose who's going to eat them, but people can choose what companies they're going to tell about themselves.

If someone is giving you something for "free" on the Internet, you're not the customer. Someone else is the customer, and you're the product. And if you're part of the product it's a waste of time to think like a customer. There's some information I'm willing to give away, such as links to my favorite place for burritos or blog entries promoting my upcoming conference panel, Feb. 20 in Los Angeles. But mail? No, that's mine.

Avoiding "free" services doesn't mean that you have to pay entirely in cash, of course. As Rick Moen suggested, the information and software is out there so that you can develop the skills to do it yourself. You know how some stores near the US/Canadian border will take both countries' money? Network services are like that, only you have three ways to pay: money, skill, and privacy.