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On the web the most helpful people win – not always the smartest. Social app makers have created lots of online social media plays that reward people for providing good information. They get badges, status, followers, elevations in cred and klout.  It’s how the web roles – remuneration for helpfulness. I follow David Brooks, with whom I do not necessarily share political views because he makes me smarter. He’s helpful.

Enter Edward Snowden, Verizon and the govies. And privacy (in this post pronounced priv-ah-cee). Everybody wants privacy.  I don’t want to be served ads for a product I’m doing brand research on. It shows someone’s watching.  Yet I look at Google Analytics every day, hoping for spikes in traffic. I try being helpful online to build readers. So I don’t always want privacy.  Am I a walking conundrum?  Nope, just a human.

I also happen to be one of those people who has never seen a grisly body part. I was nervous riding the railroad under the river to NYC post 9/11. I sign off every blog post with “Peace.”

I’m reading Ben Franklin’s bio and wonder what he would say. Hell, what would I say? I say let’s debate. That’s what American’s do. Let’s compromise. That’s what Americans do. Let’s be helpful.  That’s what Americans should do.  Peace.  


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Google and Facebook are beginning to get a little stink on them due to all this privacy talk in the press and social web.   It’s like a drum beat.  The latest chatter is about the ability for geo-tagged personal photos be crawled and shared on the web without permission, thanks a to some hacks, apps and data scavenging.  It is also happening on Apple iPhones (according to today’s NYT) but Apple’s privacy rep is too strong, and they will do something about quickly.

As Facebook and Google stay reactive to this type of thing, rather than be proactive or preemptive, their images stain.  Blackberry, on the other hand, focuses on privacy; its geo-tagging photo app is a bit more transparent (Do I smell an ad?).

Priv-acy (love the Brits) is topical because it is a very human value.  The social web is helping us realize privacy is over-rated and that’s pretty that’s cool but it’s still something we need to control and protect.  If the target of this privay news was Microsoft the market would go ballistic. Because it’s Google, not so much.  But they (and Facebook) had better clean the smelly stuff off their sneakers quickly. Peace!

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I watch a bit of TV and one of the technologies that pops up from time to time is facial recognition.  A digital recorder scans the face of an unsuspecting villain comparing facial features to a database  generating a “hit” which ties the person to an abundance of data.    

Does the technology sound expensive?  Sure. Is it?  Probably not.   

As mobile and GPS technologies become more common and applied commercially – always in an opt-in fashion, of course – do you think facial recognition apps are far behind?  Let’s say they start out as a security thing, confirming that your credit or debit card is really yours.  Not so bad. But how about if you walk into a store and are recognized as a big spender by the software, and an special customer care alert goes out to the sales dept?  Smart from the store’s viewpoint.  If a NYer who spends $10,000 a year at Macy’s visits a branch in Chicago, wouldn’t the store want a heads up before check out?

It sounds intrusive, yes. But let’s face it.  We’re bugging ourselves in lots of ways. EasyPass records where our cars have driven. ATM’s track us. Credit card transactions track us. Traffic cams record our car license plates. Soon our smart phones will know more about us than we do.  (Mr. Poppe, you are listing to port.)

I for one, think facial recognition will provide neat commercial possibilities. Time will tell. Peace!

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There’s been lots of online chatter about the expected announcement today of Facebook email — and how it might kill Gmail. It won’t.  There are a lots of Gmail fanboys. It will, however, hurt new accounts and current usage among Millennials, teens, and tweens. But the really big news is that Facebook email will be a crazy money maker.

Online Advertising

It is reported that 1 in 4 ads displayed on the web are Facebook ads — with 1.28 trillion banners ads viewed in the 3rd quarter of 2010 alone. Dude!  That more than TV, radio, and OOH combined (please don’t fact check, I just made that up). That is a lot of impressions.  If Facebook’s email — through which users will have personal email accounts  ( — takes off, I smell another trillion…give or take.  That’s some cheddar.

Debate all you will about the integration of web applications into the Facebook email product (Microsoft, Google Docs, Mobile, Enterprise, etc.) and its revenue implications, this puppy is going to be an advertising breakthrough.  Privacy will be a major issue of course. Think about it, if I send an email to a friend about a camping trip (That camping trip joke never dies, thanks Jed) and the recipient gets an REI ad, it’s going to be an issue.  But that’s a story for next month. There will be lots of chatter and lots of cheddar coming off of this announcement. Whoo. Peace!

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For Profit Browser.

The online world is all abuzz about priv-ah-see. There’s a new icon that will be appearing on social sites soon that will allow visitors to turn off tracking software, making it harder for advertisers to target users based on behavior., a business software package growing faster than kudzu in Georgia, is an information gathering tool that lets corporations track their salesforce activity so that if a sales person leaves the company their records, communications and contacts don’t too. plans to monetize by placing ads or links based on the likes and dislikes of its Tweeters. Instead of Burger King placing ads on they will soon be able to place them among Twitter followers of Eddy Curry, the New York Knicks center with the penchant for caloric foods.

Research suggests that Teens, Tweens and Millennials aren’t nearly as anal about online privacy as are pundits, but that will change. There is already a cottage industry developing – advertised on radio of all places – whereby people can pay to wipe out their online doings.  We need a quick way to toggle between social and private. I think it should be a browser-based tool.  When I’m shopping, I want help. When I’m surfing, I’d prefer to be left alone.  And I might just pay for that type of browser.  Peace!

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Privacy huh?

What’s the life expectancy of a single 55 year-old man who buys a 16 oz jar of hi-test mayo every 2 weeks along with his weekly ration of 3 steaks, 2 sticks of salted butter, 4 cans of beans, lb. of baloney, a box of microwave Orville Redenbacher, 30-pack of Bud Light and a carton of smokes?  Good question.  If you were said man’s insurance company this info might be worth a million dollars.  If you were the HR person at a company thinking about hiring this gentleman, it might be worth tens of thousands of dollars. Purchase price for that that data? Probably pennies.

Privacy huh.  As more and more personal information is collected about buyers and sellers, marketers are being offered toolsets that help them sell more efficiently. More predictably. More accurately. It can be a good thing –but needs monitoring.   I’m no card carrying member of the Electronic Freedom Foundation but I do believe in their work.  I also think that the EFF and others like them will be playing a huge role in our lives over the next 20 years.  Were they offering a stock, I’d say buy.  Privacy is going to be very big business…because the lack of privacy already is. Peace!  

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It was fascinating to learn that Facebook’s privacy policy is 1,000 words longer then the U.S. Constitution. It seems nation-building back in the day was easier than signing up for a social network today. The average novel is 80,000 words; the Facebook privacy policy is close to 6,000 words. They want us to read a bit less than 10% of a book to sign up. 

I’m guessing only about 1% of the population has ever read a Terms and Conditions or privacy policy document and that percent probably passed the bar. (I was once responsible for Ts and Cs at a company and it was truly an exercise in plagiarism, with a lateral to a lawyer.)

Privacy policy needs to be opt-in, not opt-out.  That is, users must click with whom and what they want shared. A manual Opt-In selection.  This makes it so everything starts out as private and users and info to be shared must be selected. Right now everything is pre-set for share and you must deselect. Opt-Out. The Op-In approach will likely make advertising and data sale more effective and targeted. Of course, there will have to be incentives built in, but that’s the way it goes.

As I said in a post a couple of days ago, the decisions Facebook makes today on privacy will determine if they become the world’s first trillion dollar company. No pressure there. Hee hee. Peace!

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