The Longest Now


Spyware, privacy, and the commons of popularity
Sunday October 24th 2004, 2:51 am
Filed under: %a la mod


 Alexa.com produces spyware many love to hate. It is friendly, as spyware goes, but both prevalent and public with how it uses its aggregated information, unlike private spyware like Google’s own toolbar. In general, groups that collect data on web-surfing traffic are aggregating cast-off bits and pieces into something useful, interesting, and slightly invasive. By the time Technorati can tell you how many computers from suburban homes have been used during the day by Movable Type bloggers from Houston to visit your site from a bookmark for more then ten minutes at a time… even it will be approaching spyware.

So, is there an ideal way to aggregate information? To collect it? When I visit your site, is it okay for you to note this? When I write you, how much metadata about my mail to you can you pass on to others before I am allowed to take offense? “I got 50 messages today” “Joe wrote me twice today” “Mary Cc:ed a silly email to 80 of us during lunch” “Ranga wrote: ‘My sister just came back from bailing Larry P. out of jail for pimping; she said his expensive new phone (410-555-2310) is already disconnected… crazy.'” “I hate mailreaders, so from now on I’m just automatically uploading my email to a public rss feed.”

Talk to me, people. I want to know what you think about all of this.


1 Comment so far
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There are relevant issues for ‘content-related’ ads, as well… how much context is it appropriate for automatic matching (for associated ads, links, music) to take into account? –sj, now using last.fm for the first time

Comment by sj 10.25.04 @ 2:07 pm



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