Data: the big "Mindscare"and the future of digital currency

Why does anyone care if their data is being mined? Seriously. I wanted to pose this question because this thread about Siri and Google sparked some talk about who can be trusted with your data, and Vlad also brought up an interesting point on the most recent verge mobile podcast.

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What gets me is just how outrageous people make data mining sound. We throw around words like "trust," "creepy" and "privacy" as if Google were attempting to steal our identities, but Vlad really said it best: Google doesn't care about you. You're a data point that helps increase advertising value and nothing more. No one is trying to find out where you live or what porn you watch.

I am a big follower of John Gruber and the 5by5 network and although I agree with a lot of the things they have to say, there is a very anti-google and anti-data mining vibe from that crowd which occasionally rustles my jimmies. The big buzzphrase everyone hears about this?

"If you aren't paying for the product you are the product."

This is the sort of stuff I expect to hear from republicans on the campaign trail. It's classic fear tactics, but it can so easily be turned on its head. Google and Facebook offer robust services at no cost, and I think people take that fact for granted. Wouldn't it be just as well, then, to say that I'm actually just paying for their services with my data rather than traditional currency? Why is this perceived as a bad thing? What practical repercussions exist by letting these companies use my data? So far no one has been able to provide me with a good answer to any of these questions.

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At best we can say that data mining typically means advertisements which hurt the user experience of browsing the web. However, it's perfectly fine to be against intrusive advertising and not be caught up in the fear mongering associated with data collection. Plus, isn't data mining in some way improving the user experience of dealing with advertisements by tailoring them to our interests? I guess that depends on who you're asking, but I'm inclined to think so.

In the digital era data is empowering. It's not only what drives free services but also many conveniences like google instant. It's evident that this is only going to continue to be a point of contention among users as new services like Google Now further expand on our use of data. As the mobile podcast pointed out Google Now is incredibly significant to the future of search and Google in general, and for the first time I can say I'm in-some-part jealous of a feature coming to Android.