You Are The Product

— An experiment in critical typography.

If you're not paying for it, you're not the customer; you're the product being sold.

Everyone loves free things, but seldom do we question the real cost of providing a free service or product to the masses. The countless online services and websites we use every day enable a great deal of productivity and information flow for both consumers and companies — the latter of which is addressed by this project.

Behind the scenes of Google, Facebook, Twitter, and many other websites are vast arrays of servers and databases filled with our web interactions and personal information that we willingly provide them. This information is precisely what enables these companies to operate free services, as it enables them to participate in the lucrative online advertising market.

In this market, one of the primary products being sold is you. Your information is not your own. It is produced, packaged, and distributed en masse like so many other industrial products we are familiar with in the physical world.

Process

To realize the vision of packaging user data as a physical product, I designed a stylized box in various sizes with critical messaging present in each panel.

The production of fake product boxes with cardboard and thick paper:

Packaging

Final package designs, in two versions.

Documentation

As a final step, I placed the packaging in the context of a technology retail store and documented the result.