If personal data is actually a commodity, can you buy some from another person, as if that person were a fruit stand? Would you want to?
Nor is there much if any evidence that businesses will want to buy personal data from individuals, on a per-person basis, especially when they can still get it for free. (GDPR withstanding, alas.)
Yet there is lately a widespread urge to claim personal data as personal property, and to create commodity markets for personal data, so people can start making money by selling or otherwise monetizing their own.
There are many problems with this, beside the one I just mentioned.
First is that, economically speaking, data is a public good, meaning non-rivalrous and non-excludable. Here’s a table that may help (borrowed from this Linux Journal column):
In Chatbots were the next big thing: what happened?, Justin Lee (@justinleejw) nicely unpacks how chatbots were overhyped to begin with and continue to fail their Turing tests, especially since humans in nearly all cases would rather talk to humans than to mechanical substitutes.
There’s also a bigger and more fundamental reason why bots still aren’t a big thing: we don’t have them. If we did, they’d be our robot assistants, going out to shop for us, to get things fixed, or to do whatever.
Why didn’t we get bots of our own?
I can pinpoint the exact time and place where bots of our own failed to happen, and all conversation and development went sideways, away from the vector that takes us to bots of our own (hashtag: #booo), and instead toward big companies doing more than ever to deal with us robotically, mostly to Continue reading "What’s wrong with bots is they’re not ours"
This is what greets me when I go to the Washington Post site from here in Germany:
So you can see it too, wherever you are, here’s the URL I’m redirected to on Chrome, on Firefox, on Safari and on Brave. All look the same except for Brave, which shows a blank page.
Note that last item in the Premium EU Subscription column: “No on-site advertising or third-party tracking.”
Ponder for a moment how the Sunday (or any) edition of the Post‘s print edition would look with no on-paper advertising. It would be woefully thin and kind of worthless-looking. Two more value-adds for advertising in the print edition:
- It doesn’t track readers, which is the sad and broken norm for newspapers and magazines in the online world—a norm now essentially outlawed by the GDPR, and surely the reason the Post is running this offer.
- It sponsors Continue reading "Wanted: Online Pubs Doing Real (and therefore GDPR-compliant) Advertising"
In The Big Short, investor Michael Burry says “One hallmark of mania is the rapid rise in the incidence and complexity of fraud.” (Burry shorted the mania- and fraud-filled subprime mortgage market and made a mint in the process.)
One would be equally smart to bet against the mania for the tracking-based form of advertising called adtech.
Since tracking people took off in the late ’00s, adtech has grown to become a four-dimensional shell game played by hundreds (or, if you include martech, thousands) of companies, none of which can see the whole mess, or can control the fraud, malware and other forms of bad acting that thrive in the midst of it.
And that’s on top of the main problem: tracking people without their knowledge, approval or a court order is just flat-out wrong. The fact that it can be done is no excuse. Nor Continue reading "GDPR will pop the adtech bubble"
Let’s start with Facebook’s Surveillance Machine, by Zeynep Tufekci in last Monday’s New York Times. Among other things (all correct), Zeynep explains that “Facebook makes money, in other words, by profiling us and then selling our attention to advertisers, political actors and others. These are Facebook’s true customers, whom it works hard to please.”
Giant Irony Alert: the same is true for the Times, along with every other publication that lives off adtech: surveillance-based advertising. These pubs don’t just open the kimonos of their readers. They treat them as naked beings whose necks are bared to vampires ravenous for the blood of personal data, all ostensibly so those persons can be served with “interest-based” advertising.
With no control by readers (beyond tracking protection which relatively few know how to use), and damn little care or control by the publishers who bare those readers’ necks to the vampires,
Continue reading "Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica problems are nothing compared to what’s coming for all of online publishing"
Sometimes you get what you pay for.
In this case, a good microphone in a bluetooth headset.
Specifically, the Bose Soundsport Wireless:
I’ve had these a day so far, and I love them. But not just because they sound good. Lots of earphones do that. I love them because the mic in the thing is good. This is surprisingly rare.
Let’s start with the humble Apple EarPods that are overpriced at $29 and come with every Apple i-thing:
No, the sound isn’t great. But get this: they sound good to the ears at the other end. Better than the fancy new AirPods. And better than lots of other earphones I’ve used: ones from Beats, SkullCandy and lots of other brands. I’ve not heard any that sound better than plain old AirPods.
So, when a refurbished iPhone 7 Plus arrived to replace my failing iPhone 5s two days ago, and Continue reading "Mics Matter"
I have unsubscribed from the DSCC mailing list, which I never joined, multiple times. Here’s a screen shot of my last unsubscribe session, dated 21 October:
That’s the third screen, after others that mute the unsubscribe option. At this point, “Take a break” is their euphemism for what I really want, which is a divorce. Here’s the confirmation:
And here is the confirming email:
I have earlier ones from June, July and August.
But the DSCC emails keep coming. Here’s just the top of the latest:
So here’s a question for the DSCC, or anyone else who knows: Is this deliberate on the DSCC’s part?
I do believe one should never ascribe to __________ what can also be ascribed to incompetence.
But this is a long time for any incompetence to persist. At a certain point this kind of shit gets hard to read as anything other than intentional. That Continue reading "Dear DSCC: unsubscribe means unsubscribe"
Synopsis—Advertising supported publishing in the offline world by sponsoring it. In the online world, advertising has been body-snatched by adtech, which tracks eyeballs via files injected into apps and browsers, then shoots those eyeballs with “relevant” ads wherever the eyeballs show up. Adtech has with little or no interest in sponsoring a pub for the pub’s own worth. Worse, it encourages fake news (which is easier to produce than the real kind) and flooding the world with “content” rather than old-fashioned (and infinitely more worthwhile) editorial. When publishers agreed to funding by adtech, they sold their souls and their readers down a river full of fraud and malware, as well as indefensible manners. Fortunately, readers can bring both publishers and advertisers back into a soulful reunion. Helpfully, the GDPR makes it illegal not to, and that will be a huge issue as the deadline for compliance (next May 25th) approaches.
Yesterday Continue reading "Let’s get some things straight about publishing and advertising"
Who Owns the Internet? — What Big Tech’s Monopoly Powers Mean for our Culture is Elizabeth Kolbert‘s review in The New Yorker of several books, one of which I’ve read: Jonathan Taplin’s Move Fast and Break Things—How Facebook, Google, and Amazon Cornered Culture and Undermined Democracy.
The main takeaway for me, to both Elizabeth’s piece and Jon’s book, is making clear that Google and Facebook are at the heart of today’s personal data extraction industry, and that this industry defines (as well as supports) much of our lives online.
Our data, and data about us, is the crude that Facebook and Google extract, refine and sell to advertisers. This by itself would not be a Bad Thing if it were done with our clearly expressed (rather than merely implied) permission, and if we had our own valves to control personal data flows with scale across all the companies we deal with, rather Continue reading "How the personal data extraction industry ends"
My loyalty to Peet’s Coffee is absolute. I have loved Peet’s since it was a single store
in Berkeley. I told my wife in 2001 that I wouldn’t move anywhere outside the Bay Area unless there was a Peet’s nearby. That pre-qualified Santa Barbara, where we live now. When we travel to where Peets has retail stores
, we buy bags of our favorite beans (which tend to be one of the above) to take to our New York apartment, because there are no Peets stores near there. When we’re in New York and not traveling, we look for stores that sell bags of one of the bean bags above.
Since our car died
and we haven’t replaced it yet, we have also taken to ordering beans through Peet’s website
. Alas, we’re done with that now. Here’s why:
I ordered those beans (Garuda and New Guinea) two Thursdays ago, June 16, at 7:45am. A couple Continue reading "Great Coffee vs. Meh Marketing"
In The Adpocalypse: What it Means, the great Vlogbrother Hank Green issues a humorous lament on the impending demise of online advertising. So invest the next 3:54 of your life in watching that video, so you catch all his points and I don’t need to repeat them here.
Got them? Good.
Every one of Hank’s points are well-argued and make complete sense. They are also valid mostly inside the bowels of the Google beast where his video work has thrived for the duration, as well as inside the broadcast model that Google sort-of emulates. (That’s the one where “content creators” and “brands” live in some kind of partly-real and partly-imagined symbiosis.)
While I like and respect what the brothers are trying to do commercially inside the belly of the Google Beast; but I also expect them, and countless other “content creators” to get expelled after Google finishes digesting that market, and Continue reading "Google enters its chrysalis"
I’ve decided I need to keep a public list on stuff that interests me, and to do it in a way that’s good to read now and easy to find later. The headline above is my first whack at a title.
Required viewing::: A Good American
. It’s a documentary
on Bill Binney
and the NSA by @FriedrichMoser
. IMHO, this is the real Snowden movie. And I say that with full respect for Snowden. Please watch it. (Disclosure: I have spent quality time with both Bill and Fritz, and believe them both.) Bonus dude: @KirkWiebe
, also ex-NSA and a colleague of Bill’s. (In case you think this is all lefty propaganda, read Kirk’s tweets.)
Ice agents are out of control. And they are only getting worse
in The Guardian
is brilliant. Check out its suggested jobs for titles it has no stats for.
Yo to WaPo
and the Continue reading "The Daily Tab for 2017_06_06"
On a mailing list that obsesses about All Things Networking, another member cited what he called “the Doc Searls approach” to something. Since it was a little off (though kind and well-intended), I responded with this (lightly edited):
The Doc Searls approach is to put as much agency as possible in the hands of individuals first, and self-organized groups of individuals second. In other words, equip demand to engage and drive supply on customers’ own terms and in their own ways.
This is supported by the wide-open design of TCP/IP in the first place, which at least models (even if providers don’t fully give us) an Archimedean place to stand, and a wide-open market for levers that help us move the world—one in which the practical distance between everyone and everything rounds to zero.
To me this is a greenfield that has been mostly fallow for the duration. There Continue reading "An Archimedian Approach to Personal Power in the Land of Giants"
So i was on a panel at WebScience@10 in London (@WebScienceTrust
), where the first question asked was, “What are two aspects of ‘trust and the Web’ that you think are most relevant/important at the moment?” My answer went something like this::::
1) The Net is young, and the Web with it.
Both were born in their current forms on 30 April 1995, when the NSFnet backed off on its forbidding commercial traffic on its pipes. This opened the whole Net to absolutely everything, exactly when the graphical Web browser became fully useful.
Twenty-one years in the history of a world is nothing. We’re still just getting started here.
2) The Internet, like nature, did not come with privacy. And privacy is personal. We need to start there.
We arrived naked in this new world, and — like Adam and Eve — still don’t have clothing Continue reading "A few words about trust"
I just unsubscribed from Staples mailings, and got this:
WTF? Is the request traveling by boat somewhere? Does it need to be aged before it works?
We have computers now. We’re on the Internet. There is no reason why unsubscribing from anything should take longer than now.
Staples is not alone at this, by the way.. Many unsubscriptions are followed by promises to complete over some number of days. I don’t know why companies do that, but it smacks of marketing BS.
If you’re listening, Staples, give me a good reason. I am curious.
For what it’s worth, I unsubscribed because approximately all the mailings I get from Staples (and everybody else) are uninteresting to me. Un-cluttering my mailbox is far more valuable than getting bargains (e.g. “$220 off select laptops and desktops” and “UNBEATABLE Ink & Toner Prices”) I’ll never bother with.
Here’s the handy thing about cash: it gives customers scale
. It does that by working the same way for everybody, everywhere it’s accepted. Cash has also been doing that for thousands of years. But we almost never talk about our “experience” with cash, because we don’t need to.
Marketers, however, love to talk about “the customer experience.” Search for customer+experience
and you’ll get 35+ million results, nearly all pointing to stuff written by marketers and their suppliers. Even the Wikipedia entry for customer experience
reads like an ad for a commercial “CX” supplier. That’s why a big warning box at the top of the article says it has “multiple issues” (four, to be exact), the oldest of which has persisted, uncorrected, since 2012. Try to read this, if you can:
In commerce, customer experience (CX) is the product of an interaction between an organization and a Continue reading "The cash model of “customer experience”"
Who Owns the Mobile Experience?
is a report by Unlockd
on mobile advertising in the U.K. To clarify the way toward an answer, the report adds, “mobile operators or advertisers?”
The correct answer is neither. Nobody’s experience is “owned” by another party.
True, another party may cause
a person’s experience to happen. But that doesn’t mean that party owns
that personal experience.
We own our selves. That includes our experiences.
This is an essential distinction. For lack of it, both mobile operators and advertisers are delusional about their customers and consumers. (That’s an other important distinction. Operators have customers. Advertisers have consumers. Customers pay, consumers may or may not. That the former also qualifies as the latter does not mean the distinction should not be made. Sellers are far more accountable to customers than advertisers are to consumers.)
It’s interesting that Unlockd’s survey shows almost identically high Continue reading "Nobody else owns our experiences"
I started calling online advertising a bubble in 2008
I made “The Advertising Bubble” a chapter in The Intention Economy
I’ve been and have been unpacking what I figure ought to be obvious (but isn’t) in 52 posts and articles (so far) in the Adblock War Series
And it ain’t happened yet.
But, now comes this
, from Kalkis Research
— and a very downbeat conclusion:
We are living through the latest stages of the online advertising bubble, as available high-quality ad space is shrinking, leading to a decline ad space quality, and a decline of ad efficiency. Awareness for fraud is growing, and soon, clients will cut their online ad spending, and demand higher accountability. This will destroy the high-margin market of automated reselling worthless ad space, and will force advertisers to focus only on prime publishers, with expensive ad space.
This is a Continue reading "Is the online advertising bubble finally starting to pop?"
I just followed this link
, where I was met by the message above.
Problem is, I don’t have an ad blocker installed. I have tracking protection. Three kinds, in fact. (Before you give me shit for running more than one at a time: my work
requires experimenting with many different privacy protection tools
. It just happens that right now I have these three working in Firefox, my default browser.) Here is what Ghostery sees:
Here is what Disconnect sees:
And here is what Privacy Badger sees:
So I’m guessing what blocked the ad was one of the two red sliders in Privacy Badger. I tried sliding b.scorecardresearch.com
to yellow and it seemed to load the desired page without a problem, but I don’t know if Forbes would have let me though anyway or not at that point. There is no way to Continue reading "Get it right, @Forbes"
gives us Clinton and Sanders Using Addressable Advertising in New York Market: Precision Targeting Is Especially Relevant in NYC, Say Political Media Observers
, by @LowBrowKate
. Here’s how it works:
In order to aim addressable TV spots to those voters, the campaigns provide a list of the individual voters they want to target to Cablevision or satellite providers DirecTV and Dish. That list is matched against each provider’s customer database and ads are served to the matching households. Because voter data includes actual names and addresses, the same information the TV providers have for billing purposes, they readily can match up the lists.
Speaking as a Dish Network customer—and as a sovereign human being—I don’t want to be an “addressable target” of any advertising—and I already feel betrayed.
I don’t care what measurable results “addressable” or “precision” targeting gets for those who practice it. The result that matters Continue reading "TV Viewers to Madison Avenue: Please quit driving drunk on digital"