Last night over a wee dram at the Latin, Steve was telling me he used to work on an organic farm. Our conversation got me thinking about yet another parallel: How easy it is to equate an organic farm with a community-based, user-contributed ecosystem-y site.

You can't rush it. You have to be gentle and work with what you have. Feed the earth, fertilise it, rotate your crops, plant happy companions (cucumber that grows up the corn, basil that sweetens your tomatoes...) You can taste the lurve and see the blemishes.

Cheesy I know, but move to a factory farm model and suddenly you've got miserable cows and square tomatoes that won't bruise.

So, let's just say you follow the organic farm meets community model. What about the money??

A question often asked by computery people dealing with commerce, transactions, data and desires is Who Owns The Customer?

Apart from finding that question somewhat repellant as a customer of many internet systems, isn't the answer obvious? Or at least shifting?

I own myself, dammit. I'm holding my purse strings. If I choose to juice every morning or eat crap from dawn 'til dusk, that's my effin perogative. If I want your "guidance" or "service", I'll probably ask a friend first, and if I can't work it out with help from someone I know, I'll ask you. Yes, some people like to know be told what it is that they should be buying, but I wonder if they'd purchase something their friend/brother/neighbour/happy companion uses over what Company X thinks they need. I'd guess probably.

(I do get a little Holier-Than-Thou when I'm juicing.)