Friday, January 22, 2010

Which ox are you goring?

ProjectVRM's Joe Andrieu has a long, but not necessarily rambling, post today buttressing his (and the project's) stand on data sharing.

He makes some great points, such as that many people confuse privacy with secrecy. And that transactional data is owned by all parties to the transaction separately and mutually. He totally misses some points, such as confounding Digital Rights Management with meat space copyrights.

But where he really got me was right near the very end of his screed where he says:

"Because the fact is, we want to share information. We want Google to know what we are searching for. We want Orbitz to know where we want to fly. We want to know the kind of car we are looking for.
We just don’t want that information to be abused. We don’t want to be spammed, telemarketed, and adverblasted to death."

But the reality is that we will be "spammed," telemarketed and adverblasted whether or not the party doing the marketing knows what we want or not. Advertising should be about letting me know the possibilities that might interest me. And the only way that can happen is if the advertiser knows my likes and dislikes, wants and needs. Isn't that the premise of VRM, that we (the users) tell the vendors what we want and they then compete to fill our need? How can they do that without telling us of their offers, and isn't that advertising? Targeted advertising, targeted directly at the person(s) who are looking to buy.

Rework the post, Joe. There are too many good points to be spoiled by such a bad ending.

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I answered in a bit more depth on the original article. Certainly if vendors are responding to our request, that's not SPAM.

But if you want to argue that it is imperative that vendors can "drive demand" by intruding into our lives with unwanted advertising, we've got a larger debate.

For me, in a perfect world, we get what we ask for, and the rest of our life is uninterrupted by needy vendors. And it's ok for an individual to ask for more information and for vendors to respond to that... after all that is exactly what Google and other search engines are there for. IMO "advertising" in response to an open ended information query is just another form of Search result.
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