As Chris announced, I’m now a member of the APML work-group. So the question, is why have I joined it? Because profiling is huge. People are only starting to get to grips with the loss of privacy on the web – I suppose an externality of an electronic world. I remember reading about some guy who posted on a marijuana bulletin board in 2000, and that it still comes up in Google searches. Prospective employers, prospective girlfriends, prospective anything – he now cannot control the information that he was once a pot head. It’s like someone watching you get changed, and you don’t have the option of pulling the curtain. Privacy, is about giving you the choice to use that curtain – whether you’re an exhibitionist or not!
Something a lot of people arn’t aware of, is the amount of data other companies are collecting – and you can’t control it. You reading this blog posting – I can find out what browser you have, what city you are viewing this from, who your Internet service providor is – heck I even know what version of windows you use. And I’m not even trying to profile you – think about Google or DoubleClick that know of every website you visit by placing a cookie on your computer.
Why do people want to collect information about you, known as your “attention data”? Because they can profile you – and when you can profile someone, you can personalise the experience for them…and target their advertising better.
The APML standard does a very simple thing: it allows you to control your “attention”. It’s still early days, and although there are some smart people discussing some deep issues on it, everyone on the work-group is still feeling their way of where this standard is going to go.
If you have thought about targeted advertising – and if you don’t you should – I would watch this standard. Or better still, start discussing it – this is a huge opportunity to set things right, before the Internet dominates our lives.