Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Sunday, November 18, 2021

Riding on its late momentum, Facebook launched its Social Ads initiative to demonstrate how it can make money in an innovative, seemingly user-friendly (even user-engaging) way.

Aside from questions about the legality of auto-recruiting members into advertising campaigns, some are now criticizing just how Facebook is rigging the default user settings to build an essentially shanghai-based ad network.

To give you an idea, when Leah Pearlman announced SocialAds on the Facebook blog, she claimed that Facebook would never “sell any of your information”. But… hmm… aren’t my demographics *my information*? Isn’t what type of movie I like *my information*? Who is Facebook to determine what my information is? Even though companies can’t identify me personally, they are paying Facebook for my age, my interests, and other things about me that make me who I am.

And really, does Facebook think that Blockbuster doesn’t have my identity here? I need an account to rent a movie… so obviously Blockbuster knows who I am. So Facebook is kind of saying “we’re not going to give any identifiable information to 3rd parties… as you’ve already done that”. It really doesn’t matter that Facebook doesn’t give up my email… that’s a cop-out. What they’re doing is connecting the dots… in an under-handed way.

On one level, Facebook is no different from every other software application, on the Web or off. Everyone knows (or should know) that a program’s default settings determine the vast majority of usage patterns. For instance, how many billions of Excel files are floating around out there with the standard three worksheets within the workbook — even though only one of the worksheets has any actual data on it? Even experienced users don’t bother diving into options menus to change settings unless there’s a really compelling reason to do so. In that sense, Facebook isn’t doing anything particularly new, and thus not particularly malicious.

The tricky part is that “connecting the dots” business. If Facebook really is serving as a bridge to deliver key trigger information to its partners, then that’s a serious breach of trust. It’s as though Facebook is pooling fragments of user demographics with other user-frequented sources, thereby building a data-mined version of marketing cryptography.

This is mostly speculative, but given the capabilities of software aggregation databases, not at all out of the range of possibility. If the goal is to build consumer profiles toward which to target the most refined marketing pitches possible — the greatest bang for the buck via honed audiences — then Social Ads could be the glue that helps all the other elements stick together.

I haven’t joined up on Facebook yet. When/if I do, I’ll have to cook up a bunch of fake personal info. No sense in helping them build a more-perfect machine.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 11/18/2007 11:37:39 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg., Business, Internet
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Of note:

On a recent quest to track down an Polaroid instant camera, a coordinated search between Manhattan and Long Island came down to a single model for sale. And that one had to be unearthed from a floor-level shelf, behind the counter at a Duane Reade.

Why hunt down an old-style film camera in this age of ubiquitous digital photography? I needed it for an occasion where the Polaroid’s instant photo-printing gimmick would satisfy the instant gratification that the evening would generate. Sometimes, the “real” handheld photo works better, in a pass-it-around social setting, than a digicam’s viewing window.

I guess this underlines how far out of favor film has fallen, even the specialized point-shoot-print variety that set apart Polaroid for so long.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 11/18/2007 10:58:02 PM
Category: Photography
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Like every other scripted program on the boob tube, “Saturday Night Live” has been relegated to reruns due to the ongoing television writers’ strike.

But just because it’s not on the air doesn’t mean the show’s not still going on, even more “live from New York” than ever last night:

But this NBC show was not live from Studio 8H in Rockefeller Center. Nor were there any television cameras. The continuing writers’ strike meant there could be no new broadcasts. Instead the cast, writers and a few key production staff members had gathered in a subterranean comedy theater in Chelsea to perform the show live on stage for an audience of less than 200, including a Who’s Who of downtown comedy. The TV audience got a rerun of a Nov. 3 show, but at the Upright Citizens Brigade theater there was a rare event born of hammy necessity, unexpected availability and good vibes.

“We’re like cranky trained monkeys if we don’t get to perform,” said Amy Poehler, who is also founder of the theater. “We all thought about what we’re going to do during the strike, and because we have no other skills, we just scraped this together.”

I can’t tell you the last time I watched the show on TV — we’re talking, literally, not since last century. I’ve been aware enough of it, via the usual osmosis that allows major shows to pervade entertainment media. I guess the real joke is that, as much as you try to avoid television, it finds ways to seep into your consciousness via other means.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 11/18/2007 08:47:58 PM
Category: New Yorkin', TV
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ex-next ones
One made his de facto retirement official, while the other is clinging to the faint hope of continuing to play on a chronically-injured ankle.

So if, as is likely, both Eric Lindros and Peter Forsberg definitively close the books on their National Hockey League careers in the same 2007-08 season, they’ll forge yet another common link on the way to the debate over their Hall of Fame worthiness.

To me, bowing out at the same time underlines how closely Lindros’ and Forsberg’s paths have paralleled in the NHL. Let’s review:

1. Arguably, both were the two centerpiece players in the blockbuster trade between Quebec and Philadelphia that launched both franchises into the league’s elite (although the Nordiques had to move to Colorado to achieve that, along with a couple of Stanley Cups with Forsberg leading the charge).

2. Despite being among the most dominant centers of their common era, neither was able to overcome persistent injury problems that limited their time on the ice.

3. Improbably enough, both players celebrated the later stages of their careers by taking advantage of unrestricted free agency to “go back home”: Forsberg wound up in a Flyers uniform more than a decade after that team originally drafted him, while Lindros got to play for his hometown Maple Leafs. (The further link: Both their stays there fell well short of expectations.)

It couldn’t have been scripted any more precisely.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 11/18/2007 08:24:33 PM
Category: Hockey
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Here’s a shout-out post to Bryson Nobles, who’s just launched his personal entrepreneurial blog, CEO Swagger.

I’ve been working with Bryson on The 8trk Project. Since I encouraged him to keep a blog in support of that venture, I’ll take partial credit for putting the bug in his ear to branch out to his own site. I think the new blog will highlight his drive to carry out Web-based business concepts, from idea-germination through to functionality, and beyond.

Hopefully, the swagger will start soon enough with 8trk, as soon as that site is ready for public unwrapping a few weeks from now.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 11/18/2007 06:18:03 PM
Category: 8trk, Bloggin', Business
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