Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Opting In or Out

Are you the type of person that gives out information, politely refuses, or gives erroneous information? 

Some people do not want to share their wants, dreams, or more specifically their viewing and shopping habits, while others willingly do so. How is this affecting your everyday life? These are some quick thoughts about how the open, closed and trickster choices might affect your life going forward.

If you 'opt-in' to sharing your information, whether a zip code at a brick and mortar store, surfing on the web, or how you watch TV, these breadcrumb trails can possibly enhance your life (depending on your point of view). Sharing your zip code at your favorite store, might incite a store to open closer to your house. Letting the world know more about your interests might narrow down advertising coming your way. 

In the realm of television, with the enormity of content, knowing something about you the viewer can help smart search and recommendation engines hone down your choices; whether tennis or basket weaving, the goal is to spend less time surfing and more time enjoying consumption. In regards to TV advertising, as the software behind the scenes gets more intelligent and more capable, the ads become increasingly more targeted, right down to knowing who is holding the remote control and delivering ads accordingly.

I am generally okay with letting a little info out if it helps me surf less. I also don't mind if mined information prevents me from watching ads about diaper rash and prescription drugs. In fact if I am car shopping, I'd much rather see ads about new cars so I can see what's out there before I get rolling on more research.

There are a lot of smart people working on algorithms to continually hone results for recommendations, whether it be a TV show, or delivering the appropriate ad. The downside is we might completely miss content we would have spontaneously watched, or we might not be exposed to new products outside our current interest.

If you are opting-out regularly or you are a trickster trying to mess up the database, the ads or recommendations you get will be more generic and your choices will be more dynamically driven by you.

I think most people pause before they click to opt-in, and many understandably say no to giving out their email for incoming promotions. The over-riding worry of big-brother knowing too much is often a guiding principle. Unless you have something to hide, I'd suggest most shared information is harmless and may make your day a little easier. I also figure that no matter how many computers are ticking away, the data I’m generating as a whole is probably not that important to anyone. Studies show the upcoming generations generally have a more carefree attitude about sharing data. Regardless, there are no easy answers, the choice to opt-in or not is personal and subjective.

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