These aren’t totally random. I grabbed most from http://goneone.tumblr.com/
Archive for February, 2011
There is a discussion currently making it’s way through the halls of government regarding web analytics and privacy, well more precisely tracking and privacy. Phil Kemelor at Semphonics has a good summary of the FTC report on privacy. The concern is more directed at information brokers than it is at individuals or companies monitoring their own website. These brokers collect information, sometimes unscrupulously and sell it to the highest bidder. Unfortunately, like in so many cases, this is an example of the greedy ruining a good thing for everyone.
The issue at the heart of the matter is the need to couple demographics data with web analytics data; not only from an advertising perspective but also a content perspective. Advertisers are less and less interested in advertising on a site, or a portion of a site and more interested in reaching a specific demographic. While we know a specific demographic consumes a specific type of content that is one step removed from the demographic itself.
While the FTC and in Canada CRTC have not yet made a Do Not Track option mandatory they certainly could. In recent weeks the CRTC has made all sorts of silly decisions so I wouldn’t put it past them.
While browsers may soon offer track or no track as a privacy setting such a heavy handed “all or nothing” approach would inevitably do more harm than good. We need data to build better websites. Without metrics we could only make guesses at what was working and what wasn’t.
One simple solution which we are likely to see are things like the AIRMILES program and other points systems. These systems couple your purchasing habits, with your demographics (which were part of the original submission process). When you purchase something and collect the AIRMILES you are submitting information about your location, what you purchased, what the price point is, the time of day, whether or not the item was on sale etc. In exchange you receive some AIRMILES to redeem for items or trips. Companies buy allotments of AIRMILES and then offer them to their customers. Some may come from the story you are purchasing from and some might come from the manufacturer of the company.
AIRMILES then collects the data and sells it back to these companies. It would be pretty easy for a company like AIRMILES to generate a tracking cookie which, if you sign up sends data (and your personal profile) to a data warehouse which then collects and sells the data to interested parties. Actually they already do the last part, the difference with the web is they don’t ask your permission and you don’t collect any points.
Really the issue people have is that someone is making money off of their data without paying them for it. While AIRMILES doesn’t pay very much at least there is an attempt to offer something. I could easily support a points program for web browsing. I might not participate in it myself, (WAY too much questionable web consumption) but I can see where others might find it valuable.
I don’t think that the WAA or website owners should relent on tracking users to their websites. It’s my website, if you don’t like being tracked go somewhere else. I liken it to owning a store. If I own a store and you enter, I have the right to have video cameras record your every move.
Obviously not something personal like in a change room is off limits but everything else is pretty much fair game. Like in a store, my website does not track personal information, I don’t know your name, your gender, age merely where you travel in my store. (Okay I know a little more like your browser type and geo-location but those are not really personal) If I want to get personal I need to entice you into providing me those details with a membership of some type.
Collecting and using data isn’t nefarious. Yes, there have been unscrupulous people and methods, but find me an industry that hasn’t had it’s share of assholes. We as analysts and website owners have a right to collect and use non-personal data in anyway we see fit. For personal data, we should make sure we have permission and if we need to offer something in exchange for that permission, then so be it!
Zuimei launches his new career as the owner of a gay bar tonight! Touhenboku is located in Ueno, a part of Tokyo Japan. The name, Touhenboku, literally translates to “block head” in English which is odd, but if you look at other English/Japanese translations there is a certain amount of charm to it.
Anyway I built the website with the help of Sam and Miho in three languages: English, Japanese, and Chinese. Miho designed it and I built it using some fancy CSS and the scriptaculous library. I think the results are pretty good.
The initial drawing was done by a friend of Zuimei’s, unfortunately he did’t sign the work. The image is also used on the “grand opening” posters which Sam helped print up. I got the song from a free mp3 site and it’s called Party in the Emerald Hills by Hayden.