Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Cookie Monsters

When people need something, they usually search for it and sometimes they find it. In contrast, when people might want something, advertising pushes them to go for it. Microsoft has been 'losing' revenue to Google's contextual ads and keyword-driven text links, which have proved to be quite lucrative.

We all think of Microsoft as this monopolising monster don't we? And Microsoft, as always, has delivered new features to feed this public image.

They've come up with this new behavioural targeting technology [December '06], where they link consumers' demographic information [age, profession, etc.] with our online behaviour [clicks, URLs visited, etc] using - guess what - cookies! Everyday, Microsoft is learning more and more about us, and most of us don't even realise it.

For companies to know more about our "behaviour" rather than just using psychology to persuade us to buy stuff, I feel, is even more dangerous because it is more concrete and eventually more effective. "Effective" here would mean us losing money to buy things we might want [but don't need] and companies making more money in selling things they need to sell to generate more and more revenue. It won't be long before more companies follow this behavioural targeting technology [if they haven't begun already].

But the war is not over just yet. There are many softwares that keep popping up in cyberspace to prevent unwanted cookies from being stored on our hard-disk drives [one example is SpywareBlaster], but again, no ordinary consumer can really measure the effectiveness of these softwares. The bottomline is, that our "personal information" is not that personal any more, as corporations gather, share and even sell this information with/to others.


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