Dear Marketing: An Open Letter From Your Customer
by Chris Maher of Fosforus
Over the years, I have had an uneasy relationship with you. I’ve not cared one bit for being your prospect. And, as it seems that being your customer is just an extension of a permanent, unrelenting and ever-more-intrusive marketing campaign, I’m not nuts about being your customer, either.
He quotes David Glen Mick from a paper Searching for Byzantium: A Personal Journey into Spiritual Questions that Marketing Researchers Rarely Ask
Another set of spiritual questions we seldom ask ourselves concerns the effects of marketing and consumption on human character. By character I do not mean human values, but rather our psychological temperament as we go about our daily activities. What kind of person does marketing and consumption encourage or discourage?
Mick’s answers include examples of qualities of temperament that are, in his opinion, encouraged by marketing and consumption: impatience, incivility, judgmentalism and distrust.
He continues to articulate the problems with marketing and gets to the heart of the matter by offering a new model.
What I’m recommending is the creation of (what I will call) a “custnomer”: a data alias or new “name” for that me that gets profiled by your computer systems.
At a minimum, this will mean that my customer records and data won’t have my real name appended to them. There are too many thieves and scammers out there who are seeking to use my good name and the records attached to it. Grab your nearest CIO and Chief Privacy Officer (and maybe the Chief Security Officer, though that person is probably on Zoloft at present) by their lapels and strongly encourage them to begin in-depth research into the promising work on Extensible Resource Identifiers (XRI) and XRI Data Interchange (XDI).
The Daddy of XRI, Drummond Reed, is someone I consider a friend …is, without question, the darned nicest and most patient technology visionary that you will ever come across. There isn’t an ounce of ego in his dealings with us woefully common folk.
Warning: XRI/XDI is not some obscure, trivial “tech thing” that will only be meaningful to those who mumble to themselves and spend half their lifetimes slaughtering innocents and evil-doers… virtually, that is. XRI/XDI has encoded within it is a simple, powerful idea that will come true over time and will change your business: “My private data is mine.”
He goes on to highlight data anonymity and the work of Latanya Sweeney, Assistant Professor, Institute for Software Research International at Carnegie-Mellon University.
Here’s how Sweeney describes what she does:
Perhaps the biggest clash between technology and society involves privacy. The task of maintaining privacy and confidentiality in a globally networked, technically empowered society is quite difficult, tricky and fun.
Data privacy (or more precisely, data anonymity) is emerging as a new study within computer science that is the study of computational solutions for releasing information about entities (such as people, companies, governments) such that certain properties (such as identity) are controlled while the data remain practically useful. While these problems have been studied, in part, by statisticians and earlier computer scientists, their solutions have been rendered insufficient in today’s technically empowered society. So, in data anonymity, we develop new approaches and tools for today’s computational environment.
My colleagues and I (in the Laboratory for International Data Privacy, for which, I am the director) take a two-prong approach to data anonymity. On the one hand, we work as data detectives and on the other hand, we also work as data protectors.”
The best part is he finished up with the new business model.
I’m thinking that there’s probably some trustworthy business entityâ€”although, I’m hard-pressed to figure out which it might beâ€”that could serve as my proxy. (Now, banks and/or credit card companies, before you leap to any conclusions, take a long look at your information assurance practices and see the part of this article about the Trusted Computing Group.)
I would willingly provide just enough information, credentials and data that authenticate who I am and which, say, establish my credit-worthiness to a “trusted relationship proxy”: some government-certified, insured, audited, secure entity that would establish and manage the data version of “me” and would become the “gateway” to all (or many) of my most important business relationships. Think of this proxy as an agent who serves as a buffer between me and you.