So, yesterday marked the 30-Year anniversary for The Empire Strikes Back. Star Wars episode V (or 2, if you’re using original numbers).

That, combined with my general geekiness & the news today that several social media sites were busted for sharing private data with advertisers without user consent (that’s a no-no, FB), got me thinking.

For those who’ve seen TESB, you’ll remember a pivotal place turned out to be Cloud City. This is where Han and Leia take the M. Falcon for emergency repairs and safe harbor from the empire,  meeting up with Lando, Han’s old buddy who actually runs the entire community (well played, George, well played).

Cloud city is a mining community (mining for what? who really knows. it’s a city in the clouds.), who thus far has remained outside of the empire’s scope of vision and off the radar. They enjoy freedom and can conduct business without harassment.

As you know, Han and Lei arrive, only to be betrayed by Lando and ambushed by Darth Vader & friends.

Lando’s response to all this is “I’m sorry, Han. They beat you here and threatened to take over our community. I had no choice.”

Originally, Lando’s agreement with Vader was simple: noone would be hurt, and they would leave without incident. Gradually, the agreement began to change, once Vader was meeting his objectives, and of course, the deal kept getting worse for everyone else. To save Han, Lando rebels and calls for an immediate and total evacuation of cloud city.

Ultimately, it was better to leave the cloud entirely, than to put up with the system’s manipulation of it.

And so we arrive at the point: to really get the most out of the web and “mine” the communities for information relevant to our needs (be it artistic and creative or simply understanding what the consumers want), you need to be in it.

Otherwise, if you blow in like the empire and try to artificially colonize and pirate such information, you risk damaging the community that could have otherwise helped you meet your goal.

Privacy policies, EULAs, Terms of Use, and general advertising practices could really use to keep that point in mind.

Just an observation.