How NOT to be seen

There's a funny thing about this vignette from Monty Python's Flying Circus: When it comes to being seen by marketers, we're willing to stand up, too.

The question is whether it will turn out as badly. We know that marketing is increasingly pervasive and invasive, finding its way into everything from Nokias to noses. We're also aware that marketing is increasingly adept at targeting. For instance, marketing technology reads my Gmail note to a friend about summer camp and immediately provides a list of sponsored links, including "Summer Whale Camp," "Wakeboard Summer Camp," "Girl's 2-Week Summer Camp," and "Camp Caribou for Boys."

How does it know what I wrote? And do I mind that it's targeting my interests with related advertisements? At first I was weirded out but not anymore, regardless of the personal nature of my e-mails. Technology is learning how to find us and follow us, and I'm not sure that we mind.

In a recent interview with Kerry Langstaff, VP of marketing at Quova, she says the following about their specialty, "dynamic geo-location":

Basically we go and map the infrastructure of Web servers set up all over the world and map where IP Addresses have been allocated.... We identify where a user is connecting from through their IP address.... So, as an example, say a customer is searching for shoes. By using IP geo-location data to situate exactly where they are, a shoe retailer can localize its landing page for each incoming visitor. Another customer example is a newspaper which uses reader location to customize their news and ad content. If you log in from Massachusetts, you'll get the Red Sox score first -- not the Yankees score. And news, weather, and the store locations of advertisers can be localized based on where a particular person is logged in from.

(Read the rest of the article here: "Knowing Where The Consumer Is")

These are child's play examples and I like the idea of finding my favorite team listed before others. I like the idea of going to a news page and finding the top stories to be my kind of stories. I'll be seen for that. But what kind of targeting could eventually get me shot? I don't really mean shot, of course, but harmed, or controlled. At what point could privacy leave my control? From a Forbes article called "Scary Stuff":

Michael G. Michael, a theologian and technology historian at the University of Wollongong, in New South Wales, Aus­tralia, says that he originated the term uberveillance to describe the new environment. The stem "uber" means "over" or "super" in German. He thinks the pervasive monitoring will lead to increased cases of insanity and mental distress. "Mental illness will become an increasingly confronting factor as these issues develop," he frowned.

This is just one of myriad problems you could imagine in a world of uberveillance if you let your mind go there. Being the independent people that we are, I hope we'll only give away so much, but who knows? Maybe the Monty Python skit isn't too big of a stretch after all.


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