Tuesday, November 6, 2007

John Anderton, you could use a Guinness right now.

I've got a lot on my mind. You can see it by reading about the weird variety of things I've posted about in the last three months. For the most part it's about the future of marketing. Much of it is, uh, aspirational (read: wishful thinking.)

Greg posts about behavioral targeting: he's tired of it. I think he means he's tired of hearing about how it's the new marketing revolution. Me too. It's not new. Behavioral targeting is what marketing has always been, we're just better at it now.

I don't like behavioral targeting. Not because I don't think it effectively sells product. I don't like it because I think it's destructive of identity. It's interesting that, on the one hand, we have companies like Facebook flourishing because they protect the privacy of the social graph while, at the same time, marketers undermine that privacy to sell things.

If there's one thing the explosion in communication forms (or even the popularity of Twitter) proves, it's that our identities are mappable to our relationships. Relationships require trust, trust requires intimacy, the willingness to be intimate requires the ability to enforce privacy. Without the ability to enforce privacy, we won't form real relationships.

I'm waiting for the first viable social network whose technology does not allow it to violate the expectations of privacy that Facebook built itself on and is now jettisoning. I think it will take the form of individual open-source widgets embedded in a web page that is nothing more than a way to regulate the communications between the widgets. Anyone?

1 comment:

Atul said...

Both online businesses and their users are guilty of bum-rushing onto the Internet from both sides. While users expose their lives on the Internet with unfounded trust and utter disregard, businesses are acting like children at Willy Wonka's factory. With talks of OpenSocial being hacked and Facebook's employees tinkering with user data, privacy and trust issues go even further to software security and corporate controls -- yeah, the 'stuff' banks and defense companies need to worry about. Just as it took less than a decade for Internet businesses to achieve their collective valuations, things have moved far too rapidly for any of the traditional checks and balances (FTC policies, consumer awareness, privacy advocates) to take effect. Someone will have to take the high road and don't expect it to be the guys who 'do no evil'.

Atul