10.11.2005Continued discussion from yesterday.
I am interested in what implications this has, specifically for marketing research (incidentally, a lot of the business impacts O'Reilly talked about had to do with marketing on the web). Consider the Ralph's Club Card: it tracks your buying habits so that when you check out, you receive a coupon relevant to your purchases. This is being linked to the cash register from a central database that is constantly analyzing trends across products. How much is that data about you worth and to whom? Would Google want a piece of that action to deliver even better targeted ads? Could Google charge extra to it's advertising customers to add analysis based on this new data? How personal is this data and could you legally opt-out of information sharing agreements? Should Congress regulate this information sharing since it probably crosses state lines or should it be left to the individual states to decide?
I wont pretend to understand anything about the business models at work here, but I will say this:
Google's system works by harvesting the activity of its users for information, which it uses to make money. In this way, it doesn't need to charge the user for the service but can still collect on their actions. And only by maintaining this kind of free use service can Google remain the most widely used internet app.
So I don't mind if they team up with Ralph's and monitor my every move in an attempt to sell their wares to me, as long as that process works to maintain quick, easy, and cheap access to the resources of the internet.
Which, as the article explains in detail, is one of the virtues of this reconceptualization of the internet: it looks like they (read: big business) finally appreciate the contributions of the consumers in the market, the dedication and care we put into the things we are passionate for, how responsive we are to a dynamic, interactive medium.
So as long as it benefits you, meaning more personalization of the, well, "Internet experience," you are fine with giving up anonymity? This is a definite sacrifice, don't you think?
Well, who am I giving up my anonymity to? If my information were just treated as raw data, then I would be just as anonymous as I am now. I don't see the problem with letting Google read my email if it offers a service as useful as gmail. There is, of course, a potential for abuse, but again, these companies already stake their reputation and business on the enthusiastic participation from the consumer; it isn't in their interest to betray that trust. The diagram above talks about 'radical trust'. Mutual trust is a necessary ingredient in any participatory activity.
Readers: See where I am going with this?