Layers of an onion: Your digital lives


So the first thought I kept having during this week’s reading? We all should be information specialists. There is just more data than there people capable of organizing and shifting through it. The bad rap a librarian’s masters got a few years ago? I just don’t buy it, particularly after reading this article about the vast opportunities and future marketing potential. Pair an information science degree with some computer skills and bet you could write your way into a marketing firm or major Fortune 500 company. Everyone has this data, but they need mechanisms for accessing it in a timely way.

The second thought was that Facebook’s founder was brilliant. This article puts into great context the efforts Facebook is making in organizing data for third-party use. Mark Zuckerman is going to one day rule the world (if he kinda isn’t already).

Thirdly: The need for some kind of governing mechanism for this data collection is vital. But can one actually work? The article mentions the Digital Advertising Alliance’s Self-Regulatory Principles for Multi-Site Data. But without some stick, some data collectors would never comply.

My fourth thought: We don’t even yet know what this looks like. Consider, for example, the entrepreneurs featured in Monday’s New York Times who are collecting odd data but finding big customers for it.

Finally, count me among those privacy advocates worried a bit about the incredible potential for abuse. Yes, do I love having only relevant ads pop up on my web pages when I’m surfing the Net? Of course. Don’t waste my time. I’m also an advocate for democracy and while the Internet has done a lot to give voice to minorities who otherwise aren’t heard, I also worry that the Internet has allowed more fragmentation. It’s no longer that there aren’t bowling leagues, but that individuals never really have to break out of their comfort zone. Don’t want to ever hear bad news? Not unlike Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, data utilization may soon make that a reality.


1. A hypothetical case study: Money and technology are no object for your client who sales children’s jewelry, so what kind of data could you envision mining to optimize a micromarketing effort?

2. Do you still fill out customer surveys that seek input on your household income, education level, etc? If so, when was the last time you encountered one?

3. Are secrets passé? If there was information in your personal life that you did not want to share with anyone, do you think there is any mechanism now to do so assuming a fragment of it may have been documented by a technological device?


4 thoughts on “Layers of an onion: Your digital lives

  1. Side note: FSU reorganized a few years back. Information Studies (library science) now falls under the College of Communication. They do tons of programming.

    Kids are spending less time watching TV and more time online. In the past, advertisers would just run commercials during Saturday morning cartoons. With technology, their playing field has grown. So, if money isn’t a concern…you need to track both mediums. (viewing habits, time spent online, favorite sites and products, parents income, etc.) This article talks about embedding products:

    As for secrets…I was doing research for my theory class and had to look up “hate” groups to find a website. The first thing, that came to mind was that somewhere, someone was tracking my web searches. I think I need to stop watching Homeland.

  2. Kat: USF has done the same thing as I assume FSU did…and had some real kickback from J-school types. I’m a bit ambivalent (didn’t do J-school for undergrad may be part of the reason) as long as the school’s mission includes training those committed to truth telling and being neutral observer for future generations. But will it be? Thought this piece had a decent perspective.

    It’s been very interesting, having a kid in the house, seeing how my Internet ad traffic has changed based on our site visits and the few electronic toys we do have. Disney, for example, has several access sites where you have to log in. Free, but they have you and then start pushing all kinds of merchandising your way. We’ve not delved into the Webkinz yet and hope to skip it all together..…

  3. Joni when I was considering your question about whether I tend to answer consumer questionnaires online it led me to remember being logged into my previous company’s Facebook page and having to constantly remind myself that I wasn’t on my personal account. I found this article which I found really interesting about employees putting their employers at risk through social media phishing schemes.
    It seems like we are even less diligent about privacy when we are working with business information than we are with our personal information.

  4. I like your questions this week! I think secrets are something to consider now that everything we do online leaves a digital paper trail. Teenagers today are growing up online and there will be records of their mistakes that could come back to haunt them later. Politicians are constantly being caught doing or saying inappropriate things on social media or in emails and the NSA is spying on citizens through their searches, phone calls, emails, browsing history and more. Keeping a secret has become nearly impossible with the amount of data collection out there.

    If I had a children’s jewelry company as a client I’d be looking for data on families with small children and discretionary income, like what kind of websites they visit, so I could put my ads in the most relevant places.

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