A fair exchange

in Uncategorized

As we talk to prospective readers and partners, I’m pleasantly surprised that far fewer people than I expected are creeped out by the idea of behavioral targeting. (Or at least far fewer say so than I expected.)

Fred Wilson thinks that people understand the bargain that’s being made, and that as long as there is value to the user, people don’t mind giving up the info:

While this may be problematic in certain privacy respects, it is
hugely beneficial in most respects.  Do you want to know where your
teenage daughter is at 11pm after she fails to call you as she
promised?  Do you want to know where the nearest Starbucks or Jamba
Juice or subway stop is? Would you like to be able to text message your
buddies the exact location of the cool bar you are hanging out in?  I
think you get the picture.

This leads me to … Matt Blumberg, who wrote a post called The New Media Deal in the spring of 2004 which remains in my mind one of the most important posts I have read in blogs in the past couple years.

In this post, Matt describes the new deal consumers are making via
technology.  We are consciously or subconsciously sacrificing absolute
privacy in return for anywhere, anytime, my way content and
communication.

As Matt says in his post,

But I think it’s becoming increasingly clear that we have a New Media
Deal, which is that people are willing to sacrifice their anonymity in
a heartbeat if the value exchange is there.

So
we can wring our hands all we want about the privacy issues with
respect to geolocation on cell phones, or behavioral targeting on the
web, or saved search history on Google, but my feeling is that the
benefits of these technologies will vastly outweigh the loss of privacy
for most people most of the time and that’s really all that matters.