Off to Market

“…you are the new ‘product’ of the digital age.”

Why you should know some of the rules of the new market, and what you could do about it.

As a child trailing behind a busy Mother down a cabbage leaf strewn Lewisham High Street. The blue banter abating briefly for the passage of families, to return in clear ‘Saaf’ London dialect shortly after. Loading up the trolley bag, spuds at the bottom, carrots next, then the sprouts if it was winter. Then the fancy stuff, that was dribbling into the country like a silent and tasty invasion. New varieties of lettuce, beef steak tomatoes, asparagus not in salted tins. Led by a now quaint media revolution in cooking – the age of the celebrity chef had arrived.

Now it’s whistful fondness for those smells, noises and, if fortunate free tastes to lasoo parental emotions into parting with the folding. Tasteful tastemakers replaced by remote ‘curators’ defining our world view. The markets are the same, yet incomparable. Buyers flock, sellers jostle – if you’re in the right part of the online world. Physical shopping experiences now mostly owned by pension and investment funds, in a near sterile environment we call Malls.

The funny thing about markets is that they haven’t really changed a bit since the idea of trading ‘a bit left over’ amongst your mates. Now they’re just more ubiquitous, perhaps headered with Westfield, and highly managed affairs.

It’s no surprise that Farmers markets have grown exponentially around the Western World. They feed all the senses, retain some of the mystique of finding the new, the crafted, the special. Little treasures adrift in a sea of punchy marketing messages. The New Zealand cry for ‘a bargain’ so endemic that it has long ingrained in the national psyche.

Whether buyer or seller, you’re probably unaware that you are the new ‘product’ of the digital age. Your online activity is tracked, cut and diced, sliced and metricated ‘to serve you a more personalised experience’. Markets used to be measured by how many loaves got thrown to the ducks, now they’re paragons of efficiency creating data for the new media goliaths.

So go visit a real living market soon, and remember the friendly faces, that are tracking you in the old fashioned version of cookies. Online you’re leaving a similar trail of memories that a LOT of very smart people are counting on for their futures. Don’t let them down!

©David Binstead 2013.


If you’re interested in seeing where your online journey data is ending up, and desire to leave a little less information for the myriad companies tracking your every move, you could do worse than start by trying something like Ghostery. Here’s what Wikipedia have to say about it: “Ghostery is a cost free privacy browser extension..” There’s other similar browser extensions out there, but if nothing else, it’s a sobering realisation of quite how much every pixel of your web visits are being tracked. Or there’s always the Farmers market?


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