AntiFriday: Shame, privacy, trends, etc.

Posted by Rob Walker on July 11, 2008
Posted Under: Anti,Believing

That’s right, it’s the latest weekly rundown of backlashes, complaints, critiques, and like that. Continues after the jump. Here goes.

1. Blackwater, ADM, Wal-Mart, and Countrywide head up the vote-getting for the Corporate Hall of Shame. (Earlier Murketing musing on the Blackwater brand here.)

2. Surely you caught the bit of Long Tail anti-ness in the HBR. WSJ columnist Lee Gomes, who has been skeptical of the theory in the past, piled on here. Tyler Cowen backlashes against the anti-ness here. These debates always seem to devolve into tedious numerical definitions — how the data gets counted and divided, etc. I’m invariably left wondering why, exactly, I’m supposed to care. But I suspect that in a broader sense it has the opposite effect: People feel they need to wade in and have a position, pro or con. Thus the anti-ness nets out to a huge plus for the Long Tail as a commodity-idea.

3. WSJ: “Phone operator CenturyTel Inc. and cable provider Charter Communications Inc. shelved plans to use ad-targeting technology from Silicon Valley start-up NebuAd due to privacy concerns raised by their customers and lawmakers.”

NebuAd is described as a “behavioral advertising firm.” As I understand it, this means that it tracks your online browsing history, and that data is matched up (with money changing hands, obviously) with online ads.

Whatever the current travails of NebuAd, I predict that this is going to happen. The incentives for business are too strong for it not to. You will end up seeing the algorithm-interpreted version of your online habits spat back at you in the form of ads. Sometimes the results will freak you out. But as Scott McNealy observed in 1999 (!): “You have zero privacy anyway. Get over it.”

4. Anti Advertising Agency unveils “The Cut N Paste Ad Offer Responder.” (“Surely I will regret turning it down, because it certainly does seem like a fantastic opportunity!”)

5. PSFK points to One Person Trend Stories, a blog. Trends include the guy who signed his email “Yrs” ( “I hadn’t seen anyone use ‘yrs’ since I was at Oberlin! And in a work context? That was pretty cool.”), and “Hipster Lesbians Working On Bergen Street.” It’s easy to mock trend-mania, but I do like that most every entry includes a “To be sure” paragraph — the part in most real-life trend stories in which the writer acknowledges that basically there is no trend. As in, re the Bergen Street lesbians: “To be sure, lesbians who have tattoos and, perhaps, piercings, have long worked on a variety of streets in Brooklyn.”

6. This could be interesting: The Consumerist is “thinking about hosting a Consumerist meetup where readers get up and slam their funniest, craziest, most cringe-inducing customer service stories, sort of a Moth meets Consumerist event.”

Further diversion may be found at MKTG Tumblr, and the Consumed Facebook page.

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