Whenever I surf the net, which is admittedly quite often, I often see ads that seem to be specifically targeted at me. For example, I see a lot of ads for anything related to, let's say, "zombies". But I'm not sure if it's because of my age, my habits, my income, etc. Or is it just a coincidence that I play video games associated with that theme? :)
It's an emerging and increasingly ubiquitous marketing technique called "behavioral advertising", and it's based on where you go and what you do on the web. (FYI: each computer on the internet has a unique "IP address" which discloses certain information about the user).
Is your data (ie., information about you) "body or barter"? (in the words of UPenn professor Joseph Turow, who blogs here) Meaning, is it something that naturally is your property, or is it something you can choose to trade away for some kind of benefit, like ads that appeal to you or discounts on products you buy?
And yet it may be too late to pose that particular question. After all, consider how much data you have already given to various sites you use like Facebook, Google, Pandora, etc. Consider how much data your parents have given to grocery stores via loyalty card programs. As we transition to our next unit, is the right to privacy absolute? Where does the digital domain fit in to this civil liberty?
An interview with Joe Turow: