Be the customer?

23 November 2014

Hmm. Google's introducing this "Contributor" thing which on the surface looks like something I ought to approve of. I mean, I aggressively adblock (sorry, advertisers, you lost my trust with "Punch The Monkey" and never got it back) and then try to find an alternate way to send money or other rewards to content producers: Paypal tipping or making a Coors^Wmicrobrew run or whatever. (I once took a cheesecake made with duck eggs to the local paper's newsroom, which definitely qualifies as a "whatever.")

But one of the first takes on the program that I read was this (ironically, I think it came up through Google News):

I have a different theory, based on my experience talking to Google execs over the last few years: Contributor is an elaborate experiment to prove that the public prefers advertisements to paid content.

I don't know if it's intentional but honestly, I figure that'll be the end result anyway. Will I "Contribute"? I don't even know myself. None of the half-dozen example sites are ones I visit (but if I could pay to remove Wikihow crapola from all future Google searches, I might consider that).

What does that say for the prospects of Pumpkin Spice? Would ordinary people pay money for hosting to Be The Customer instead of using an ad- and data-supported social media site? Probably not, realistically. I expect people would be more inclined to use it because it offers them control over UX. People are way more likely to be annoyed, in my experience, that there is no way for a user to click a box and tell Facebook "I want to see every single post by X," especially if X is a Page.

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