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Life after Google: More private and more profitable?

Reviewing Gilder’s Life after Google, Ralph Benko asks, If our attention is worth billions, shouldn’t we market it?

Internet analyst Ralph Benko offers some thoughts on George Gilder’s Life after Google, focusing on how to make post-Google life work for the little guy, in terms of control of identity and personal data, which seem to be big tech’s plunder these days:

Right now, big data companies have figured out how to appropriate hyperlinks on the web and exploit them to become some of the most valuable companies in the world. According to Gilder, Blockstack, a blockchain startup, makes it possible for users to have control over our fundamental digital rights: identity, data-ownership, privacy, and security. Gilder:

“The Internet stack had become a porous and perforated scheme in which most of the money and power could be sucked up by the big apps at the top run by companies such as Google. What was needed was a blockstack that could keep the crucial IDs and personal data and pointers to storage addresses in a secure and immutable database on the blockchain.”

Google makes billions of dollars in profits a year by advertising to you (and me!). But what if Google had to – by the power of competition, not regulation — share a big chunk of that revenue with us? Ralph Benko, “Welcome to the Cryptocosm: George Gilder’s Life After Google Shows How Blockchain Will Transform Your World” at Townhall

Well, in a more open market, the user’s time and attention would no longer be a free service of nature. One expects incentives to follow naturally from more competition for the user’s attention.

Benko flags one techie who is helping make that happen:

Gilder introduces us to Brendon Eich (former Master of Mozilla) who created the Brave Browser. This keeps your web searches from being tracked by browsers such as Chrome, Safari, or Firefox. And Eich has created a blockchain called Basic Attention Tokens (BATs), which will allow you to be paid for your attention, meaning for seeing ads. Don’t quit your day job yet but… BATs will make users a partner rather a product of companies such as Google.

If his name sounds vaguely familiar, Eich is the creator of JavaScript and one of the founders and CEO of Mozilla (the Firefox browser). He had to leave because he had donated to a traditional marriage group. He is now CEO of Brave, which proclaims,

You are not a product.

Why use a browser that treats you like one? Enjoy private, secure and fast browsing with Brave.

And if Big Tech tracking your web searches sounds familiar, you too have probably had this type of experience:

… recently I tried to buy a summer skirt, casually viewing a couple of online shopping sites in Canada. For weeks afterward, almost every unrelated site I visited—originating wherever—featured ads for summer skirts from Canada… One thing the algorithm didn’t know was that I had already bought a (currently) untraceable skirt at the Value Village some days earlier. Update: As of November 2, 2018, it has been snowing and I am still seeing ads for summer skirts, now from all over the world…

If you’d prefer that big tech didn’t know more about you than your nearest and dearest (and yet, all the while, knowing nothing at all), you might want to look into Brave.

See also: Facebook is said to be exploring minting its own cryptocurrency If Facebook wants to mint private currency, can it still be the judge of morals and manners among users?

Imagining life after Google A compendium of comments from reviews


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Life after Google: More private and more profitable?