a feminist technology blog

Month: December 2005 (Page 1 of 4)

links for 2005-12-27

Targeted Advertising

Post-Christmukkah slowdown still in effect. I’m in Seattle, the most wireless city in America, where all the local establishments have wifi including laundromats, coffee shops, bars, and R Place, a three-story gay dance club. However, I’ve been taking a much needed break from the net and spending a lot of time sleeping, watching Christmas specials (recommended: the 1988 Pee-Wee’s Playhouse Christmas Special, starring special guest stars Cher, Dinah Shore, and Grace Jones), and eating carrot cake.

One thing:

Rise of niche-targeted marketing in 2006.
USA Today article about efforts to target consumers right down to the individual level via DVR’s, networked video games, cellular content and of course websites/downloads. Unsurprisingly, it’s personalized media technology that makes this possible.

Like other Internet search sites, Google deploys perhaps the most successful incarnation of targeted advertising: Certain queries to the search engine trigger advertisements corresponding to the subject.

Google’s director of product management, Richard Holden, would like to expand that model as video on demand begins to flourish, either on the Internet or on cable systems. When users hunt for programming, Holden suggests, Google’s method for linking ads to search terms could run in the background — along with the auction process Google uses to determine prices for the ads.

With their massive popularity and boundless record keeping, sites like Google and Yahoo Inc. can capture detailed information about their users — especially with the rise of “social networking” zones that group people of common interests.

No shock there. Is this really news? There’s two perspectives on these developments that I see. The first is that this is a Good Thing as it means nobody will have to sit through advertisements for things that they don’t want. The second is that this is a Bad Thing as it means the consumer profile for each individual will become incredibly detailed and a potential severe violation of privacy. My perspective is that although I would like to see a serious decrease in advertising, I don’t see it going anywhere any time soon. And since the current business models for content are based on old media technology, and aren’t really working right now, we’re going to see a lot of experimentation with advertising in the next five years until corporations alight on a solution that actually makes them money (see: the replacement of clickthrough ads with AdWords, commercial breaks vs. product placement, etc.). I think anyone who consumes mainstream media content is naiive to think that there is any way they’re going to get to consume this content, which only exists to deliver audiences to advertisers, without being marketed to. I do believe that detailed consumer profiling is intrusive and a potential violation of privacy, but on the other hand, there really aren’t any laws against it. So the long-term solution is to call for greater consumer protection laws. Until then, you have to either opt-out of consuming personalized content, or consume it illegally (downloading etc.) if you don’t want this to happen.

Happy Holidays!

links for 2005-12-22

Happy Holidays…

(Doing my best to contribute to the War on Christmas)

I’m heading to Seattle for two weeks to commune with my people. Expect updates, but they might be sporadic for a day or two. Enjoy the holidays and, my fellow New Yorks, keep on keepin’ on WRT the transit strike.

links for 2005-12-21

Rad Swedish media literacy project

Awesome Flash site aimed at educating young girls about airbrushing, sexism in the media, sexualization of young girls, etc. This is a really wonderfully done project, especially as it encourages girls to directly call or email CEO’s to confront media sexism. What’s even more amazing is that it’s a government project. Wow.

I would love to see something like this in the US! If anyone would like to collaborate, just let me know. Another great resource for educating kids about media and consumerism is the PBS documentary “The Merchants of Cool“, narrated by media sleb Doug Rushkoff. I grabbed a .torrent of it, but you can actually watch the whole thing online for free! PBS is aces in my book for making resources like this available.

Finally, I’m going to plug my favorite teen novel, Feed. This is an absolutely amazing book which I read randomly about two years ago and have had firmly lodged in the front of my brain ever since. It’s dystopic sci-fi, really, really dark and detailed, and every time I read it, it seems darker (I caught the “disposable table” the last time I read it and I got really freaked out). At the same time, it’s a very light teen novel, written in the bubbliest of val-speak, peppered with brand names and partying. Basically, it’s set in America in a future where internet feeds are linked with the limbic system, meaning that people have constant access to information, but are also constantly inundated with intrusive advertising. This has created a population of trend-driven sheep, barely articulate, able to think of almost nothing but products, dimly knowing that there’s something wrong, but unable to figure out what. At the same time, the planet is on its last legs as a result of the environmental damage caused by late capitalism. This book had had an enormous influence on the way I see technology and consumer culture in general, and it’s a freaking teen novel! Basically, I can’t recommend this book highly enough. The first chance I get I am teaching it. I challenge you to read it and view consumer culture in the same way.

(I feel the same way about 1984, but I feel like it’s lost a lot of its power due to having been taught mostly to kids who are too young to understand the nuances. If you haven’t read it since high school, I’d really recommend picking it up again.)

del.icio.us update


The site’s down due to “hiccups” caused by a “power outage.” We’ll see. 24h downtime still driving me crazy.

It’s funny to read the del.icio.us: comments on the delicious blog from people suffering deprivation:

“It’s getting late, I have six sites that I need to bookmark and I don’t want to leave the computer on the entire night. What to do, what to do? No worries my del.icio.us friends, I’m staying up all night ’til the service is up and running.”

“I recently backed up my del.icio.us bookmarks and imported them to my web 2.0 on yahoo. They both work good, and I have most of my bookmarks there. Also, to keep your open bookmarks, just open up an email and send it to yourself with your links.”

How quickly we forget about the concept of browser bookmarks! Theoryette: del.icio.us was super quick to catch on b/c browser bookmarking doesn’t work, is clunky, nobody really likes it, isn’t useful, etc. Am I right? Is anyone attached to browser bookmarking? Does anyone miss it? Did anyone use it?

del.icio.us outages

Driving me crazy! I guess Yahoo! is probably working on some backend integration or something, but I didn’t realize how dependent I’ve become on del.icio.us until it wasn’t available. I keep finding things I want to bookmark and stressing out that I’ll forget all about them, so I was emailing links to myself until I realized there is a built-in BOOKMARKING FUNCTION in every web browser ever. Something I actually used to use, although it seems really primitive now to do so. I feel like if I bookmark something in the browser, it has to be something really important that I’m going to refer to all the time, although I use my bookmarks approximately never.

What I use del.icio.us for:
– General bookmarking
– Reference lists for papers (I tag all the articles I’m using for a paper with the same tag so I can process their references all at one swoop rather than doing it as I work)
– Finding links that add mini-content / auxiliary content to this site, through the daily del.icio.us posts
– Inbox: Tracking what my friends are up to, keeping up with conference cfps, analysis, innovations in technologies I work on (some sample inbox tags: feminist, feminism, gaming (not “games” or “gamer”), academia, cfp, identity, identitymanagement)
– Generally seeing what’s zeitgeisty at any given time
– Tertiary point for exploratory beginning research on any topic (topictag -> popular). (First point of research: wikipedia, second: Google – this is for stuff I know nothing about, not deep research on a particular topic).

Auxiliary tech
– I use the del.icio.us Firefox extension which has virtually zero overhead, which has greatly increased the number of pages I tag since it doesn’t require going to a separate del.icio.us page. Get it here.
– The daily links are posted to this blog using a tool at del.icio.us, which I can’t link to since the site is down (curses!).
– I have live bookmarks on my Firefox bar of del.icio.us/popular and del.icio.us/alicetiara, so I can easily keep up with what I’m tracking and what the site users are tracking.

Huge canonical list of delicious hacks/tips/tricks .

Google Space

Google opens a physical space at Heathrow Airport. I spent a bit of time trying to figure out how to title this entry. You wouldn’t say “Starbucks opens new physical space,” You’d say “Starbucks opens a store.” But Starbucks is a brick-and-mortar retailer with a minimal, marketing-only internet presence. Google is an internet business that’s just launched this weird, internet-enabled airport “space” for… brand cache? I guess. Sure, I’d love to see free net access in every airport in the world; pay-as-you-go wifi is one of my most pet peeves (as is the new thing of hiding/disabling outlets so laptoppers can’t use them in public spaces). But it seems like Google is just launching this to seem nice and benevolent and like they’re doing something for the good of humanity. Like, OMG, you travellers look so bored, let us provide you with internet connections.

Of course, I can’t find anything about what Google Space actually is, but from the pictures it looks like a bunch of little tables with wifi access. Nothing innovative one bit. It does bring up the vaguely interesting speculation of what the physical manifestation of virtual companies might look like. I personally wouldn’t have designed a Google Space to be red-and-white; it’s too Target or IKEA. This basically seems like a very frivolous way for Google to spend money without too much ROI. I don’t think we’ll see a continuation of this trend.

Partnering with companies with similar brand philosophies who already have storefront infrastructure seems like a smarter investment.

links for 2005-12-17

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