[thelist] re-humanising the internet experience (was HTML e-mail tracking)

BT Bigpant bigpant at btinternet.com
Mon Feb 11 10:51:00 CST 2002

Just a rant, and I owe a few tips for this...

> My mother, for example ... doesn't let anyone track her emails.

Good on her, and respect to her decision. But she just might buy a product
advertised by an email though, making the stats all wrong...

This whole problem of tracking people boils down to lack of trust. We
(developers) all know that every email goes through government servers and
is checked for subversive keywords. Most people don't even know there is a
military section to the post office, for example. But we are all wary of
invasions on our privacy.

So, while businesses genuinely only want statistics to help serve their
customer base more effectively (nothing inherently wrong with that), it's
very easy for them to forget there are actual, real people sitting at their
computers really buying stuff. People are all different, and that mucks up
the statistics. Just how accurate are their findings ? How do they know ?

Some business models can be so transparent, it's obvious all they want is
your cash. For example, I took my son to join a karate club on their
'special offer' and received a suit and two lessons, and was given a very
reasonable verbal price for each further lesson. After the 2nd lesson was
up, I was handed a price list and pressured into going 3 times a week, and
of course there was the insurance and a ridiculous 'joining fee' (free if we
agreed to sign up for one year by direct debit there and then). Yes, it
*was* expensive, but I may have paid it they had been honest from the start,
and not used my son and his his 'pester power' to forcing me to pay up. I
felt beytrayed, and didn't join, nor will I.

The web is full of 'personalised' web sites and emails. But they're not
really personal. You are just a buying machine neatly boxed into a set of
categories. Not that we are unaccustomed to this, and it *can* be useful in
terms of filtering stuff you are interested in. But consider this; we live
in the UK and have not bothered with any other than the 4 terrestrial TV
channels. Mostly, there's little worth watching, or so we think. Because of
the lack of choice, we end up watching really interesting and informative
stuff that we otherwise would have ignored. If we have all the various
sattelite and digital options, we would necessarily have the choice of what
'interests' us - ie our first choice. Web filtering and listing of your
personal choices limits what you see. Does this make us a world of shallow,
unintersting people, or a world of experts in our chosen field ?

I'm not a conspircay theorist, but I have a healthy disrespect for most
governments and large businesses. I think it's time to welcome back the
corner shop, hold the small businesses that really care about their
customers up as an example of what business should be all about.

OK, I'll shut up now. I would be interested to know other peoples thoughts,

Phil Parker

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