Here’s the truth. It really doesn’t matter.
What matters is the value to you personally, and your perception of that value.
If you perceive there is value, you will (or at least you should) find a way to work your way in. And soon you’ll be a regular, an insider, part of the system, and your life will be awesome.
If you do not believe there will be personal value in something, or the barrier is too high for you right now, you’ll probably just move on. And your life will still be awesome.
Yes. And no. But again, it doesn’t matter.
Neither actually changes what the service is to the majority of it’s real users. It simply helps to set the rules of the game for the players.
But here’s the really interesting and powerful thing about today’s world (and the internet)…if you don’t like the rules of a given game, you can just start a new game of your own with rules you do like (you just have to convince enough players to join your game – and then it’s a whole new ‘game on!’)
Do you find yourself drawn to one or more of these services? Is the draw strong enough that you’re willing to go through whatever barriers might be in the way?
So what’s the problem?
Here’s a more interesting question to me: If you get what you want out of the service, does it really matter if you don’t actually know or understand the barriers you overcame to get it?
The louder voices on the internet would probably scream “YES”, but I honestly believe “No”.
What does seeing ads cost me? What does a company buying data about me or tracking my behavior cost me? How do I *really* suffer?
Aren’t these all just realities that we’ve basically lived blindly by our whole lives? (uh - what do you think discount cards, shoppers club cards, and yes, even credit cards are all about?)
All of these things are really about gaining users and attention. Building fans and, yes, eventually making money.
There are pros and cons, easy-wins and hard-challenges, benefits and consequences to each of these choices. But ultimately that’s all they are, personal choices.
And that’s why the internet is so powerful…it enables endless choice (and endless debate).
Which means it all eventually just comes down to taste.
Some related reading on these topics from those MUCH wiser, educated, and experienced (and better looking) than myself:
and just for fun, I’ll even throw in a little theme music and video to go with your light reading.
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Kevin has a day job as CTO of Veritonic and is spending nights & weekends hacking on Share Game Tape. You can also check out some of his open source code on GitHub or connect with him on Twitter @falicon or via email at kevin at falicon.com.
If you have comments, thoughts, or want to respond to something you see here I would encourage you to respond via a post on your own blog (and then let me know about the link via one of the routes mentioned above).