“Technologies significantly affect human as well as other animal species' ability to control and adapt to their natural environments. The human species' use of technology began with the conversion of natural resources into simple tools” Wikipedia 2010.
So have we taken the simple tool thing too far and forgotten at the rate at which human existence was set at, before we all started using Facebook?
In the last 15 years the growth of the personal computer and the mobile phone has been staggering. Today we view the 24 hour day as something we should fill, with constant access to these devices becoming an almost human trait. Even when I got my first mobile phone, which meant I no longer had to stop the car and get into a phone box to connect with my office, at the time it just seemed a natural evolution.
PC penetration in 1995 was when things began to change, a sample of the US showing that 32 percent of households had a computer, which by today’s standards is a small market, but began to uncover the tip of the iceberg.
In 2010, we talk in billions of users online, but in 1995 there was no real online as we know it today, bandwidth was nonexistent, and broadband was not freely available to consumers, who by this point could not imagine messaging and video calling via a PC in real-time to another person sitting on the other side of the country let alone the world.
Even when I was in the depths of Microsoft Redmond (1997-2001) and the Netscape wars were happening in 1998, the purchase of hotmail by Microsoft which became a catalyst for millions of people to get free consumer email, that real-time interaction piece was still missing and didn’t come until the arrival of instant messaging in 2000.
Also when we brought mobile into Microsoft in 1998, as little more than a test, the SMS revolution was gathering pace and the adoption in 2001 by the nation’s teenagers, seemed to change communication on a personal level for ever.
‘Prime time, to grey time’ was a phrase I coined to describe the need to gain access to people across the 24 hour clock, whether at work or during their down-time, rang true for advertisers and business models, but it did not address the fact that the business model for online companies was fuelled by selling and advertising, hence the growth of profiling!
As with Hotmail, we recognised that the more people used it for free, the greater the costs and the only possible driver for this was ‘eyeballs’, hoping that some would glimpse an ad and potentially buy something having seen it.
Today, we know that Google, Facebook, MySpace and Twitter all need eyeballs for their business models, but they seem to request more of their users and this is where the early days differ. The social networking giants see the value to advertisers of real data, data that can help target sales directly to an individual. This data is valuable to the point it pays for the business costs they have, plus profit.
So many of the generation Y and Z coming through have no conception of what their personal data counts for in value terms to an advertiser, but that profile, that picture, that browsing habit, or that buying pattern, makes this generation the easiest and more importantly the quickest target for fraudulent misuse of identity since time began.
Many do not even have time to read the small print of the T&Cs on Facebook, regardless of the fact that should they look up an ad or click on a gadget on the site, it could mean they have ‘Opted in’ and invited companies across the threshold for direct marketing and sales, notwithstanding the potential for that data to be multiplied across the web and used outside of where it originated from.
This current situation is a cause for concern in this online world of non understanding, ambivalence and this ‘I have no time’ environment we live in, the responsibility must be returned to the individual. It cannot be in total control of governments or of companies like Facebook or worse the dubious interlopers who cause so much harm and loss….the criminal!
The return of personal control, “Persona Management”