The Age of Context

Mike Dwyer

Mike Dwyer is a former writer and contributor at Ordinary Times.

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20 Responses

  1. Damon says:

    Yeah, I’m really looking forward to iris scanners in public places used to generate individualized adverts…..Report

  2. Will Truman says:

    My wife actually has a similar device for her Weight Watchers program. It got left in Vegas and she is very distraught. She, like me, loves measurables. I’ve compared it to the MPG calculator in my car. Conserving fuel becomes like a game with an actual score. Her device made activity a game and kept her score.Report

    • Roger in reply to Will Truman says:

      I am the same way. I love trying to get the MPGs up a digit or two closer to 40. The difference is probably just pennies, but it is a game. The feedback mechanisms nowadays tell you if you are charging the battery up or down, whether you are running on battery or gas or a combination. I still remember it showed 38.2 as I drove into the garage today.

      My wife and I would both do the same with these wristbands (she already has a GPS enabled, heart rate band for running, but not yet daily everything). If they are waterproof I will put one on my gift list.Report

  3. Pinky says:

    I’m just not seeing the power of all this. Maybe I’m just being an old fogey, but it seems like there are going to be diminishing marginal returns for advertising targeting, and while the gadgeteer may enjoy the extra information, the entrepreneur won’t get much advantage out of it.Report

    • Roger in reply to Pinky says:

      Why not?

      They can in theory target nearly perfectly. Target ads to those interested in your category, in shopping mode and approaching your store.

      I still remember my son mentioning how ubiquitous ads were for GOpro surf cams. I told him I had never seen one. He bought one later that year.

      They knew he was a target customer and would be in the market soon, and they were right. I just hope I don’t start seeing a surge in Viagra ads.Report

      • Pinky in reply to Roger says:

        I may be the wrong person to talk about this because I buy practically nothing. I mean, if some advertiser gets a hold of my information, he’s going to try to sell me a pack of gum like the one I bought five years ago.

        I’m guessing that the main benefit of this isn’t its ability to target the right ads, but to diminish the number of wrong ads. The average advertising victim has to filter out nearly 100% of the marketing aimed at him. With better accuracy, the potential consumer may start to lower his defenses as he realizes that more of the products he’s hearing about are things he’d want.Report

      • dhex in reply to Roger says:


        “I’m guessing that the main benefit of this isn’t its ability to target the right ads, but to diminish the number of wrong ads.”

        basically. you spend less money (in theory) trying to target people who would never be interested in your stuff/thing/service in the first place.Report

      • Mike Dwyer in reply to Roger says:


        I think dhex is correct here. The goal is to spend your advertising dollars on the people that will actually buy the product. It’s also about instead of getting a generic ad for a large sporting goods store you get an ad for golf clubs because your digital history tells them you are a golfer.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to Roger says:

        I also think the primary problem thus far has been bad input. That is where data collection really matters. As they get better data, the targeting will become more effective. Consumers will appreciate it rather than think it’s creepy. “Holy shit, I almost forgot the sour cream! Thanks technology!”

        I’ve got some million-dollar app ideas that are all built around highly targeted advertising, as well as other features. I just have no idea how to app.Report

      • Damon in reply to Roger says:

        Wait until the highways become “smart” with billboards scanning your lisc. plate and iris, doing an instant data dump and displaying an add targeted right to you, all the while, the road is monitoring your speed and reading your event data recorder, auto generating a speeding citation mailed to your house for each and every time you stray over the posted speed limit. Get to many citations and or not pay them and your car will be auto locked down remotely until you do pay.Report

      • Kim in reply to Roger says:

        most of the advertising out there is for impulse purchases.
        For those of us who don’t make impulse purchases… it’ll still be annoying.

        “oh, you want to tell me about your new graphics card? I bought a computer a year ago, shove off already!”Report

    • Michael Cain in reply to Pinky says:

      I’m on the other side of the technology war, trying to find ways to keep all of the push advertising from reaching my devices (or at least, keeping it from being displayed), whether it’s targeted or not.Report

      • Pinky in reply to Michael Cain says:

        That touches on the idea I was raising. Massive, untailored advertising has made us filter out most of it as noise. It’s possible that over time, fewer, better-targeted ads will get our attention again, but it’ll take a long time I suspect to recondition the consumer to actually listen to the things.Report

      • Michelle in reply to Michael Cain says:

        @Michael: I’m with you and Pinky. If I could find a way to selectively hide most of my data, I would. I have no desire to have corporate American stalking me to sell me the latest gizmo based on a detailed demographic profile of every last little thing I buy. Nor do I wish for the government to do so. I’d prefer to remain largely inscrutable. I also think that there are some pretty major implications for personal privacy when your every little movement can be tracked. So, I won’t be buying a fit bit. I’ve thus far managed to avoid obtaining a smart phone.

        I’d prefer not to be reduced to my credit score and consumption habits.Report

      • Dan Miller in reply to Michael Cain says:

        @michelle I think the point is that this ship has already sailed. You’re already reduced to your credit score and consumption habits (at least from the perspective of the people trying to market to you). It’s just that in the future, at least you’ll be reduced to an accurate bundle of credit score and consumption habits, rather than being blasted with messages that you don’t want from people who aren’t aiming to talk to you (e.g. billboards). Hopefully, anyway.Report

      • Michelle in reply to Michael Cain says:

        I’d much rather be subject to random ads than specifically targeted ones. It strikes me as less Big Brotherish. The ship may have already sailed, but it seems to have headed out to sea without taking much note of potentially dangerous head winds.Report

  4. Dan Miller says:

    Fascinating stuff, for sure, but I don’t know if we should say that our kids have no notion of privacy. Danah Boyd has written some good stuff about how teenagers today are navigating the world of social media while presenting different faces to different audiences; check here for a good intro. Her blog is also worth reading.Report