I’ve got two words for you: directed advertising. The potential is very interesting, being able to get only messages, advertisements, that will interest you. But, of course, there are darker uses also, as it lends itself naturally to profiling. The system could come to know you better than you know yourself, through actions that essenstially amount to invasion of privacy–assuming a human ever sees the results.
But today I’m not delving into the world of conspiracy theories and whether Big Brother is sneaking in our backdoor. My concern about directed advertising today is one of a practical level. Namely, when working from home with the internet on, it makes it almost impossible for me to focus on my work. See if this sounds familiar.
I come back from the school run in the morning, grab a drink, and sit down at the computer to start my morning’s work. First thing to do: check e-mail. So I check my yahoo account, nothing exciting in my inbox but lo, what’s that? Some news on the sidebar catches my eye and I’m off chasing it up. Which leads to responding in forums, which often leads to more reading and posting and stressing over how the world can be so crazy and ultimately no work.
Take, for example, the latest diversion. I saw an article by some radical Christians saying that Canada’s tolerance on gay rights was leading to oppression of Christians. Being Canadian, and not terribly sympathetic to the fundamentalist religious, I had to read the article, linked here, if you want to see what I’m talking about.
To summarize, these crazies believe that being forced to serve gays in a store, as part of their job, or job common decency, is a violation of their human rights and tantamount to oppression or, as they like to call it, persecution. One of my responses, incidentally, is here.
It’s truly sad that, despite having almost 2 billion believers worldwide, and despite controlling the governments of most major western countries, there are Christians that still feel persecuted. Even more sad that so many Christians appear unable to extend the rights and freedoms they enjoy to those who believe differently. Upholding the freedom of religious belief in a country does not mean one gets to practice bigotted views under the guidse of religion, it means respecting all beliefs and lifestyles, even the ones you don’t agree with. Heck, you expect non-believers to tolerate Christians, then why shouldn’t Christians be willing to extend the courtesy to others? But I suppose a persecution complex comes part-in-parcel with being Christian. Makes one feel closer to Jesus, I guess.
But herein lies the problem. That was one of my responses. Because I feel so strongly about this issue, I write more forum responses and dig into it more. And before I know it I’ve wasted the entire day and I have a splitting headache.
The next day I get responses to my post, which I feel obliged to answer. And before I know it, I’ve wasted two days all because of a simple diversion from my e-mail. And this happens far too often.
So, directed advertising, you’re a powerful too in the right hands, but you mess up my work schedule something fierce. I’ve learned that the only way for me to effectively get work done during the day is to remove myself from my office. Either I take the laptop downstairs/outside with the internet off, or I go write at the library. The latter isn’t so bad anyway, because it gets me out of the house far more than I otherwise would. And the crazies at the library are almost always less distracting than those on the internet.
Insight and longevity.