Traditionally, currency is treated as a means of trading credit. If I have something that Johnny wants, and he does not have a commodity that I need, then Johnny is still able to acquire what he desires by offering me a state sponsored note or coin that is guaranteed legal tender by his resident government.
In today’s new economy consumers often find themselves receiving vast amounts of entertainment, swag, even commodities, without ever having to reach in their wallets for a piece of traditional currency. The consumer just enters an email address, downloads an app, or takes a survey, in exchange for whatever momentary burst of pleasure they are promised by the creator of the article, game, or video. The consumer has paid what amounts to a very high price for a fleeting piece of entertainment, because what they often give in exchange is a vast amount of personal data.
When you download an app and give the server access to your photos, phone numbers, and call activity, the server will continuously download and retain that information until you either delete the app or replace your mobile device. Start-ups with high numbers of early adopters can often times be valued at millions of dollars by virtue of the fact that consumers are willing to download their application to their phones and give that application certain permissions that amount to a window into the personal lives of every man woman and child in their network.
In this respect, you have effectively traded your entertainment for bits of ones and zeros. The information likely means very little to you, until you start to really think about what a third party, peering into your personal life might actually be able to find out. Before you download that app, or click on that link, take a moment to ask yourself if you really trust the source. Take some time to contemplate what you are doing on your computer, and who might be watching. Your data may mean more to others than you know.