For those of you coming from the NYTimes wanting to explore this middle ground I invite you check out the Vendor Relationship Management project that Doc Searls is leading. We will be talking about it at the Internet Identity Workshop that I am facilitating next week.
“Her solution is essentially to give consumers ownership of their data and the power to decide whether or not to share it with marketers”
Lets just be clear this is not ‘my solution’ but a solution that must be found in a marketplace with a huge diversity of stake holders to help make it real and to balance things out. It is one advocated by Attention Trust and being worked on by the Vendor Relationships Management project.
To date there are very limited ways for me to express my preferences to the market place and get information regarding products and things I might like to buy (and only information about those things not just being ‘targeted’ by advertisers). There are also limited ways that people can work together – to aggregate their purchasing power to make new choices – to express demand before a product is even made and sold. These are the sorts of possibilities that I hope can become more real.
To me it is quite interesting that the New York Times is covering Online Ads vs. Privacy because this past week they made a commitment to do deeper data mining of the people who come to their website to ‘improve’ the advertising.
This reporter/social media thing seems to be working. I was quoted for my audience participation in a session at CFP in an article that appeared in Wired. I was linked to and subsequently wrote about my experience of the panel and the point I was trying to make that there was a middle ground. This reflection in my blog was then picked up in the NYTimes.
From the article:
FOR advertisers, and in many ways for consumers, online advertising is a blessing. Customized messages rescue advertisers from the broad reach of traditional media. And consumers can learn about products and services that appeal directly to them.
But there are huge costs, and many dangers, warns Jennifer Granick, the executive director for the Stanford Law School Center for Internet and Society (wired.com). To approach individuals with customized advertising, you have to know who they are. Or at least, you have to gather enough personal information about them that their identity could be easily figured out….
Even if that is true, people like Kaliya Hamlin still say that collecting data about the online activities of individuals can amount to an invasion of privacy. Ms. Hamlin, known as The Identity Woman, is a privacy advocate and consultant. “My clickstream data is sensitive information,” she told Mr. Zaneis, “and it belongs to me.”
On her blog, though, Ms. Hamlin wrote that she found the whole affair frustrating. It was, she wrote, the “angry, progressive anticonsumer guy vs. the super-corporate marketing guy.”
The answers, she wrote, lie somewhere between those positions. “The ‘activist types’ tend to deny that we are people who actually might want to buy things in a marketplace,” she wrote. “The ‘corporate types’ tend to think that we always want to have ‘advertising’ presented to us at all times of day or night because we ‘want it.’ Neither view is really right.”
Her solution is essentially to give consumers ownership of their data and the power to decide whether or not to share it with marketers (kaliyasblogs.net/Iwoman) [[ Note to the NYTimes reporters – if you quote a blogger from their blog posts you should link to the actual blog post you are quoting not just the blog itself]]
Again regarding my identity – I am not sure I would describe myself as a ‘privacy advocate’ but rather an end-user advocate, for transparancy, disclosure and passionate about open standards.