15 Dec 2006 pcolijn   » (Journeyer)

On Notifications, continued

The latest Joel touches on notifications and software getting in your way. I love this paragraph. It had me screaming "yes! yes! exactly!" Ok, maybe not screaming. But I was bouncing up and down in my chair.

Every few days some crappy software I can't even remember installing pops up noisy bulletins asking me if I want to upgrade something or other. I could not care LESS. I'm doing something. Leave me alone! I'm sure that the team at Sun Microsystems who just released this fabulous new version of the Java virtual machine have been thinking about the incremental release night and day for months and months, but the other 5,000,000,000 of us here on the planet really don't give a flying monkey. You just cannot imagine how little I want to spend even three seconds of my life thinking about whether or not to install that new JVM. Somebody out there is already firing up Gmail to tell me that the JVM mustn't just upgrade itself because that "might break something." Yeah, if the entire collective wisdom of the Java development team doesn't know if it's going to break something, how am I supposed to know? Sheeesh.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again. Unless you have something earth-shatteringly important to tell me, do not pop random stupid crap up in my face!

On Banks

apenwarr claims that banks (in Canada, anyway) do not and cannot use any information about your spending patterns that they might have to do anything but "run their business."

First of all, even though banks do not have information about exactly what you bought, knowing how much you paid and where you bought it is still a significant amount of information; certainly enough to target ads. That I spend most of my money on my credit card on flights and restaurants no doubt makes me a good target for advertising, oh I don't know, maybe flights and restaurants?

The reason I suspect that some sort of advertising deal is going on is that with my credit card bills I always receive remarkably relevant advertisements for (you guessed it) flights and restaurants. Maybe this is purely coincidential; maybe they advertise flights and restaurants to all their credit card customers.

Is there any way that without actually giving away the data, they could do something with it? i.e. they tell some advertising companies "give us ads for travel, restaurants, luxury cars, and some other categories; we will make sure they go to the right people." The advertising companies never know who is seeing which ads, just that they're going to the right places. Remarkably like Google's ad system, when you think about it.

In any case, I have no evidence that this is, in fact, happening. It just seems likely. It's what I would do if I were a bank :P But I suppose my original assertion that banks are selling my personal data "to all kinds of sketchy advertising companies" is probably false; at most they're keeping it to themselves and enjoying the lucrative position of being an advertising middleman.

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