By now, the adage that “if you’re not the customer, you’re the product being sold” is pretty old hat. But it remains the case that everyone has to eat and pay for a roof over their heads, and that businesses need to make a profit. Software isn’t made by magical elves who can live without being paid. Nothing is actually free. If a service isn’t making enough money up-front, they have to make up the difference through other means, whether it’s by placing invasive advertising, selling user datasets, making “data partnerships”, or all of the above.
Arguably revenue won’t be enough to stop them in itself: where profit can be made, it will be. We need strong legislative consumer protections to prevent this kind of user betrayal. But once the industry has cleaned up its act, sustainable revenue practices will need to be in place to support the services we use every day.
A micro.blog subscription is $60/year. For A fee, could Facebook or Twitter build a viable business around their current service if they removed all reliance on data mining and advertising? In other-words, if these companies addressed all the privacy issues that most people complain about, if they moderated (a.k.a. censored) all the content, if they removed the manipulative algorithms, would the general public be willing to pay for the service? Or does the general public want something for nothing?
When did life become so complicated? I am juggling a personal calendar that includes a kitchen renovation project, co-ordinating move-in days for two universities in two different states, eye surgery, my mother’s visit, my trip to Florida to visit my baby brother and his family, and a weekend away with Bhavna.
When my wife was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in the late 1990s, at the age of 9, the technology available for giving her body insulin, which her pancreas is supposed to make but can’t, was relatively primitive: Mollie measured her blood sugar with a device the size of a TV remote. It took a full minute to process the blood sample she provided, which could be obtained only by pricking her finger once for every reading. Administering the insulin required a syringe, a vial, and the assistance of an adult. The hardest part of jabbing herself throughout the day, she says now, was learning to ignore the child’s natural instinct to avoid pain.
It was also frighteningly easy back then to take too much insulin. When she was in middle school, my father-in-law found Mollie unconscious from hypoglycemia, a condition that can cause brain death and cardiac arrest. Her first year after college, she ended up in the E.R. again, this time because she hadn’t taken enough insulin.
It could’ve been worse: Until the mid–20th century, Type 1 diabetics seldom survived adolescence.
Although I don’t agree with the headline (I would rather have a working pancreas), diabetes technology has come a long way. While having type 1 diabetes changed my life, I’m glad to be living at a time when technology can reduce the burden of diabetes management.