Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Kangaroos in the Top Paddock

“Kangaroos Suspend Daws”

I have just opened today’s  electronic newspaper and that was today’s Top News Story.
Well, I have heard of kangaroos attacking tourists, but this was new – something for the “Weird News” file, but it turned out to be a story about a footballer. It seems to me that with all the things happening in the world, this should not be our main concern.
I have also been reading about all the profiling that has been going on on the internet and how the news  and ads. are becoming more and more tailored  to our interests. All I can say is, if that’s true, at this stage they have got it badly wrong. I detest sport and sports writing. I must admit  that only minutes earlier I did my best to OPT OUT of all those cookies, by clicking on the  websites below, but  it only worked for a few of them.

Many of these concerns have already been raised by Eli Pariser, but in the detailed article by Joseph Turow in The Atlantic, there is also the implication that over the longterrm, it will narrow our input  to the point where it reinforces social discrimination and shifts in worldview which  could affect whole families and subsequent generations. Turow, who has also written a book, posits the scenario where consistent exposure to a limited range of topics, advertising and television creates a kind of social determinsim. To use his example, consider one family which consistently sees say, ads. for up – market cars and college tuition vs another which gets mostly a  diet of fast food vouchers and weight loss ads. Ultimately this could lead to totally different expectations and life outcomes.

Here are some of the Opt Out sites. Perhaps you will have more luck!
This company promises its clients information on 160 million shoppers, but seems pretty upfront about what it collects. if you decide to opt in, they will contribute a small amount to your chosen charity.
Network advertising covers a number of outlets, but only a few of these showed up with a green tick afterwards, to indicate a successful opt out.

What concerns me about this issue is not so much the ads. which appear which are usually as relevant as the above headline,  but the other uses to which such profiling may be pu,t now or in the future. It is already being used for political and highly personal targeting (I am probably in the waste category as a consumer, rather than a target – both rather nasty words).  I would also like to know who controls the information which is so easily gathered, bought and sold, especially as companies change hands so rapidly. I would also like to know exactly what is in it and how accurate it is. Lastly, I don’t like the fact that it is being done without my knowledge and permission. 

Please don't tell me if I want to avoid this, that I have to go back to hard copy, a pencil and a microfiche and no, please no, not back to a manual typewriter. The forests of the world could never stand it!


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