Saturday, August 1, 2009

Week 2: Empowering the customer, part 3 (The Empire Strikes Back)

I joined facebook today, motivated by considerations raised by this class. My friends and family had been razzing me for a long time about joining, but I was reluctant to put my personal network “on the grid.” I had strong privacy concerns about that, but two things happened in the last week to turn me:

1. I was absolutely shocked to learn in an article a classmate had twittered about that facebook has 250 million active users. A week before, I had read in “Always On” that as of Dec. 2007 there were 35 million users, and that the user base was growing at a 71% clip. Those numbers seemed huge, but to see it explode in usage like it has made me think that it had reached a point of acceptance where I was risking my own relevance to not join.

2. Listening to the privacy seminar made me realize that I couldn’t control my own privacy without completely disengaging from society. Technological advancements will continue to reduce costs associated with data collection and analysis. This is unavoidable and, just like how I have to accept a lack of privacy to live where I want to (in New York City, we are subject to random searches when using public transportation) and work where I do (bank where my every keystroke and phone conversation is recorded), the only way to reject this is to disconnect from society entirely. Who am I kidding, my privacy is already deeply compromised and improving that can only be addressed in the same civic activities I use to try to effect change on other important issues outside of my control.

Besides, I’m already being targeted by online advertisers based on my web usage – if anything, I just wish these marketers would be doing a better job of it (I already went to Las Vegas and stayed at the Palazzo 2 months ago – don’t you know that, or can’t you guess that I’m no longer interested in looking for a hotel in Vegas? Stop jamming me with Palazzo banner ads already!). So, I gave in, with the hope that I’ll be able to reconnect with my friends and family and maybe be marketed to more appropriately.

1 comment:

  1. Jake,
    You sound a bit resigned about the lack of privacy. I understand your feeling. Perhaps this is why so many teenagers and other young people are putting so much information on the web. They might believe that it's inevitable that the information will get out anyways.

    I liked your comment about advertising targeting. If it's going to happen, at least make it work better!