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Titel / Title N-ary information markets: Money, attention, and personal data as means of payment.

Author / Autor

Stock, W. G.

Source / Quelle Journal of Information Science Theory and Practice, 2020, 8(3), 6-14.
Language / Sprache English / Englisch


On information markets, we can identify different relations between sellers and their customers, with some users paying with money, some paying with attention, and others paying with their personal data. For the description of these different market relations, this article introduces the notion of arity into the scientific discussion. On unary information markets, customers pay with their money; examples include commercial information suppliers. Binary information markets are characterized by one market side paying with attention (e.g., on the search engine Google) or with personal data (e.g., on most social media services) and the other market side (mainly advertisers) paying with money. Our example of a ternary market is a social media market with the additional market side of influencers. If customers buy on unary markets, they know what to pay (in terms of money). If they pay with attention or with their personal data, they do not know what they have to pay exactly in the end. On n-ary markets (n greater than 1), laws should regulate company’s abuse of money and―which is new―abuse of data streams with the aid of competition (or anti-trust) laws, and by modified data protection laws, which are guided by fair use of end users’ attention and data.

Keywords: information markets, search engines, social media, influencers, competition law, data protection law