Bynamite Store

Just in time for the holidays!

Bynamite 3/4 sleeve shirt in the ever-popular and uber-comfortable baseball jersey style! Front features the supercool “Bynamite” logo, in rich black on snowy white. Back features the carefree slogan, “I’m sold!” indicating nothing in particular!* The perfect gift for your loved ones, or a little guilty pleasure for yourself, for the holidays or any time of year!!

*Privacy Policy: Note that purchase of Bynamite merchandise serves as your consent for you to be marketed to by any person, place or thing that has any means of reaching you. Happy Holidays!

bynamite is in hobby mode

We’re no longer working full time on Bynamite.  For the time being, we’ll keep it up as a hobby project – if you’re curious about reasons, you can read a bit more personal color here.  If you’re an active user, I’m sorry for the following changes that will be going into effect now or in the near future:

  • We won’t be updating the product in a timely fashion, if at all.
  • We won’t maintain the support forums.
  • We’ll probably close the related One Button Rule entirely.

Once again, I’m sorry we can’t continue to work on this.  I’m actively exploring other options to keep Bynamite running, but personally it won’t be my full-time occupation anymore.  If you have ideas or you’d like to help find a future for Bynamite, please feel free to comment here or send an email to info@bynamite.com.

To everyone who’s used, worked on, commented on, written about, and otherwise gave Bynamite a try, you have my deepest thanks.

because it's there

"Everest!!!" by jrodmanjrI’ve been asked many times why we’re trying to make Bynamite work when so many others have failed with similar plans. For a while I tried answering the way George Mallory did when they asked him why he wants to climb Mount Everest:  “Because it’s there.”  That answer of course is insufficiently detailed, and also suffers somewhat from the trifling fact that Mallory never returned alive from his last expedition to the mountaintop.

But anyway, we’re fortunate to have the opportunity to post a more detailed answer in a larger forum:  please check out the piece in VentureBeat, “How to succeed where others have failed.”

whose life is it anyway?

"Wide eyed at Lloyds of London" by Ben GeachFor years, Internet companies have been been fighting over who really owns data about people who use websites. Publishers of websites believe that since consumers come to websites to view their content, publishers should control the data.  Ad networks provide systems that work across many websites, so in their view all the data belongs to the ad system, not the publisher.  Some businesses are creating marketplaces where ad systems and publishers can sell consumer data to each other. And now Apple is battling to own your data.

But who really “owns” this information?  Who owns the facts of what you like, what you buy, where you go, who you talk to – who owns your online life?

You do.

If there is a marketplace where you can sell your own data, on your terms and under your control, wouldn’t you want to take the system for whatever you’re worth?

ad targeting and the benefit of your bargain

"Derby prefers the Carrot AND the Stick" by Carly Lesser & Art DrauglisWhen we launched our beta a few weeks ago, the New York Times was kind enough to describe our basic philosophy that you should get rewarded for your personal data.  It’s still so early on that many people aren’t sure just what that reward is supposed to be.

My favorite comments come from overseas.

I love this German statement, which appears to translate as “Privacy is Dead. Register to attend the funeral at Bynamite.

A Brazilian commentator suggests, “I feel prostituted in this new possibility of arranging the business of social networks. The good thing is that I will choose who can take advantage of my gorgeous little body!

Er . . . these are perhaps interesting directions for future versions of our product.  Let me just clarify the bargain that Bynamite makes for you right now, even in the beta version.

We offer the advertising world a simple proposition on your behalf:  “Give me control, and I’ll give you better data – but on my terms.

You’re making a bargain for better control, and there’s a carrot-and-stick approach that might not be obvious at first.  The carrot is that when they give you control, you will give them info they can’t get without your help. The stick is that we opt you out of ad networks that don’t give you control – over a hundred different ad systems – they have to give respect to get respect.

So right now, the benefit you get is mainly the recognition that you are a force to be bargained with.  Over time, we’d like to see a world where you can get additional tangible benefits, like better recommendations, special deals, and even plain and simple money.  But the bargain starts with control – as a consumer, you’ve got to establish that the trade for your information is on your terms.  Get control first, and the world will follow. Well, maybe not the whole world . . . might have to be careful in Brazil . . .

actions in the face of the cookie monster

"Domino Theory" by John MorganThis week the Wall Street Journal launched a big series about targeted online advertising.  In some corners, the “news” that advertisers track consumers was derided as breathlessly naive.  Others thought the WSJ missed the real story, studying only the supply of advertising and missing the consumer demand side.  Scott Rosenberg does a nice job of putting the various views in a ladder of reaction from ignorant fear to enlightened futurism.

We founded Bynamite because we believed that consumers would eventually see the “cookie monster” that is online advertising, but we felt that this monster doesn’t have to be feared if it can be tamed.  We knew that this year would bring a period of highly varied reaction to the increased consumer awareness of the issues – and when emotional reactions of fear and derision settle down, people will move beyond mere reaction to find clearer paths of action for consumers.  A lot of the commentary and analysis about online advertising focus on what advertisers, governments and advocates want.  But what will consumers actually do?

For consumers, there are only four kinds of actions when you see the cookie monster coming:

Block Everything

Some people will just want to block out all advertising, and anything that enables it.  For these folks, there are AdBlock, NoScript, BetterPrivacy, and a host of other tools, most of which are free.  But acting only to block advertising will never be successful, because it’s like trying to win an arms race with only a shield.  And a flimsy shield at that – truly blocking information from getting to advertisers would require “going off the grid” in a way that few people are willing to do.  Unless you are willing to stop using the Internet, cell phones, bank accounts, credit cards, loyalty cards, coupons – you are not going to avoid giving your information to advertisers.

Trust Everything

There are two kinds of people in the “trust everything” camp, and ironically they don’t even know they’re in the same camp – if they did they’d probably object to each other’s cooties.  One kind are the folks who loudly claim that “Privacy Is Dead” so you might as well just give all your information to everyone anyway.  The other kind are folks who remain ignorant, for whatever reason, of everything that is going on around them.  What these people have in common is that they’ll let anything happen to their information, and whether the reason is sophisticated futurism or hopeless ignorance, the outcome is the same:  Advertisers get the information easily and do whatever they want with it.  We think both views here make unrealistic assumptions about how most people think of their online lives.

Appeal to the Government

Some people, when faced with commercial developments that don’t align with their own judgments of fairness, will look to the government to impose laws and regulations to protect a certain view of consumer interests.  We think that’s admirable behavior in many cases.  But it doesn’t happen to be our cup of tea. Government regulation is definitely part of the equation, but we’ve always been folks that like to compete to serve customers, not have the government decide what customers should have.

Choose a Better Mousetrap

"statue 2" by Les HutchinsGiven the understanding that blocking is imperfect, that promiscuous trust is unsatisfying, that the government rarely provides the fastest or best solution – we believe that consumers will choose a commercial product that restores their power, that turns advertising from a nuisance to a mutually beneficial engagement.

This is certainly an unfinished puzzle from our point of view, but we believe that if someone builds a better solution, consumers will choose it.  We believe all this talk about privacy is merely an expression of market demand that continues to go unfilled.  That demand is too great to go unfilled for much longer:  someone is going to figure out how to build a revolutionary mousetrap here – one that turns the consumers from mice into the kings of the advertising jungle.