Plus this!

Volume 14, Issue 43; 24 Oct 2011

You want to be tracked, why, exactly?

Recently, Derek Read asked, perhaps facetiously, where to find the “+1” or “like” buttons.

Truth is, they'd be easy to add. And since I sometimes use Google+, perhaps not even entirely unexpected. But I have no idea why I would do that. What value do such buttons add to your web experience or mine?

I try to avoid being tracked by Facebook, just on principle. Google knows so much about me, I don't actually imagine there's much point in trying to conceal a few more clicks from them.

But in terms of the bigger picture, I don't see how any real good can come from volunteering to allow large organizations to so easily and effortlessly spy on us.

I'm not in posession of a tin-foil hat. I don't, by and large, believe in grand conspiracy theories. I don't expect to be maliciously targeted by Google or Facebook or any other big brother out there. I'm sure they attempt to use the information gathered to their commercial advantage, perhaps trying to provide more enticing advertisements (that I will utterly and completely ignore, so wasted effort on their part) or some such. I also expect they sell the information. The buyers must imagine that they'll get return on that investment. I bet they're wrong, but a fool and his money…

Nevertheless, it certainly seems like the potential for abuse exists. It's possible that someone in possession of that data could deduce things about me that I would prefer not to share. I think that's unlikely in my particular case, but perhaps I'm being naive. In any event, there certainly are people with secrets. Some for good, some for evil. I think they have a right to privacy (yes, even the evil ones; rights apply to all, even those who use them for evil; that's why they're called “rights” not “privileges”).

Given zero discernible benefit and at least the potential for harm, why would I volunteer to participate?


Definitively agree! "Pour vivre heureux, vivons cachés" (To live happily, live hidden)

—Posted by motofix on 24 Oct 2011 @ 03:06 UTC #

I guess they're a mutation of an earlier desire for shared bookmarks, and link sharing. I'd be interested in seeing stuff you bookmark publicly on standards stuff. Whether it needs a big company in the loop is very much up for discussion, but nobody's rigged up a decentralised, oauth-ing bookmark tagging service yet afaik.

—Posted by Dan Brickley on 24 Oct 2011 @ 07:44 UTC #

For most people, their desire to be liked outweighs any queasiness about being tracked, so they add those "Like" buttons.

—Posted by bobdc on 25 Oct 2011 @ 05:47 UTC #

I agree, sort of. I'm not sure I see the point in sharing such data with an outside source. Maybe if a website can access the Google +1 data then I could see how it would be an easy solution for some. Or if this influences the searches of potential clients for a particular company by showing them that lots of people have clicked the +1 button for that companies website.

I do see the benefit in adding some kind of ranking system (+ and -) in the right context as they allow people to participate without having to say "I agree/disagree with what Jean Doe wrote here".

Perhaps that's overkill for the blog format. However, being the data-manipulator you are, aren't you curious what you might do with more data? At the very simplest you could rank posts by "Most Liked" and "Most Hated" and create yet another list of links below "Maybe Related" ;-)

—Posted by Derek Read on 26 Oct 2011 @ 05:36 UTC #