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Yeah, “Cellphone” Isn’t Really the Right Word

Today’s New York Times has a thought-provoking piece on cellphones–That’s No Phone. That’s My Tracker–that’s worth five minutes of your time.

The Take Away: Sometimes the name for a thing can cloak a lot of complexity. Not suggesting a conspiracy here–but cellphones do track your position, your spending, who you call and probably a hundred other things. And, be honest, we all don’t read the Terms of Service for all the apps we’ve downloaded.

So, what is my iPhone?

Best I can surmise is that it’s like those black boxes/flight recorders that are bolted in plane cockpits that record everything. The difference–and it’s a huge one–is that we don’t own the data like the airlines own the data. They own the planes–they deserve the data. But who owns all that data that’s being emitted from my phone every second if not millisecond? It’s most likely no single entity–it’s a bunch of disparate entities. It’s still disconcerting.

But, wait. Does it matter?

Don’t I like the convenience, the offers (savings?), the entertainment, the… dare I say it… distraction? Besides, isn’t our freedom locked in sufficiently to let me kind of ignore this stuff?


In the past, do you remember how some families chose not to be listed in the phone book?

That kind of anonymity seems almost antediluvian.

I actually wrote this post so I could use that word 🙂


Why Pinterest Should Pivot And Help The Real Contributors Of The Web Get Paid

Reviewers of the world it’s time to start getting paid.

There’s something wrong with the state of the internet. In particular, reviews.

We write them. We look through them. We rely on them!—even when they’re written by total strangers. They provide enormous value to internet users worldwide. They’ve transformed ecommerce. Yet we don’t own what we write.

Amazon does!

Can’t we snap our fingers and ask the silicon valley rainmakers to take the democratic ethos of the internet one step further and give individuals automatic intellectual property rights for the content we create?

Pinterest is almost there.

It allows users to curate what matters to them—but it doesn’t let us get paid if our curation brings value to a company or organization. I do recall them surreptitiously trying to swap out user-pasted urls with affiliate-laden ones. Hmm. Good idea–bad execution.

Gumroad is making waves by making any link an ecommerce storefront. Not sure if this can be executed as a default in one’s ‘lifestream’.

Yotpo is doing something interesting–using algorithms (what else!?) to find the best reviews for any product. And, Yotpo, will the writer of that ‘best review’ get something in return?

And then there is VRM–or Vendor Relationship Management. There’s lots of interesting things over there–for example, a few of their goals:

  • Make individuals the collection centers for their own data
  • Give individuals the ability to share data selectively
  • Give individuals the ability to control how their data is used by others

It’s good to know we’re heading in the right direction. Heck, there may be a startup being featured right this very instance who has solved the problem.

Regardless–let’s decide to turn the corner together and demand ownership of our thoughts and social content.