Published on April 9th, 2011 | by Alvin20
The cash in confession
When was the last time you used the Google search engine? This morning? And what were you searching for? You’d rather not say, is it? Well, do we have news for you?
Perhaps the most electrifying, if not alarming, news to have emerged in the recent past is that the gargantuan Google servers have stored within them every single search ever conducted on Google. And, given that your IP address is logged with every search, your searching could quite easily be traced back to you, if you are still using the same hard disk that you made the search with, or you still have on your computer the Google cookie that is theoretically designed to last till 2038.
Look at it this way: 33 years from now, your 25-year-old son could find out that you were looking for escort services tonight, long before you met his mother.
Of course, if you chuck your machine and the hard drive, it puts paid to that. But if you invoke a Google search through your gmail account, consider yourself well and truly tailed.
Apparently, a poll shows that nearly 70 per cent people were not aware of the Google records or cookie. And about 40 per cent didn’t give a damn.
But the privacy waters have been muddied again. And the old Big Brotheresque question of the fact that there really never was and will never be ANY privacy on the Net is back.
How much of anyone’s privacy is really at stake, anyway? And why is there no concern about the voluntary abdication of privacy by billions of Netizens across the world?
One of the most astonishing impacts of this media called the Net is not just that it has completely changed the nature of piracy, it has done the incredible job of permanently altering the potential of personal privacy. Take blogs, for example.
For those who came in late, a blog is a weblog, a ‘diary’ you keep in cyberspace, which you update at will, a hundred times a day if you so wish. At this point, there are millions, if not hundreds of millions, of blogs on the Net, featuring opinions, ruminations, fulminations, ripostes, rejoinders and repartee. Your epitome of a free and untrammeled forum of free speech… blah blah blah.
Enter human nature and the perverse exhibitionistic streak that infests the human species. People are ‘logging’ and ‘recording’ their private lives – their follies, their foibles, their hang-ups, their relationships, their past, their present, their future, their exes and their nows, for all the world to read. Essentially, those secret little diaries we wrote long after the day was over and hid in the bedroom, those little black books we kept under lock and key, those skeletons we padlocked in the closet… are now a click away. And it is all available for comments, observations and rejoinders, every comment posted and published religiously right alongside the blog.
Remarkably, many of these bloggers do NOT elect to make their blogs private – an option available to every single blogger. In fact, ratching up a record number of (verifiable) hits is an enthusiastic dynamic of one-upmanship that scurries in tandem with the blogging phenomenon.
Notches on your personal blogging gun, if you may call it that.
A Google search (blogs on personal lives) happily directs you to over 42 million of such blogs.
But what’s more fascinating is that many of these private logs feature – hold your breath – advertising.
No, I’m not taking about blogs ON advertising. (Google ‘blogs on advertising’ and you get an astounding 126 million hits.) That’s not the issue. The juicy thing is that there are blogs which have nothing to do WITH advertising, which feature a million topics and honest-to-goodness advertising. Links you can click on that lead you to all kinds of sites that buy and sell all the things you usually buy and sell.
In fact, the giant Google service, AdSense, formalises it all and helps you host advertising on your blog! It is one of Google’s prized money spinners and is subscribed to by millions of ‘advertisers’ and ‘sellers’ alike. An indication of exactly how successful it is is the fact that you are now, by US tax laws, required to declare your income from AdSense.
Put one and one together and you can turn your private life into a brand new media. Suddenly, the principles of advertising apply. The more fascinating the blog, the more it will be read, the more likely readers will return, the more likely a click on a cleverly constructed link With RSS feeds, people can choose to be alerted to a blog update, which essentially means the ‘media’ alerts you to the latest ‘programming’.
Fact: The blogger, of course, could earn good money with every click. Would you sell tickets to your bedroom so that a passing stranger can watch you make love to your wife? No? You are one of the last ones left standing, pal.
Imagine the irony of it all: On this side: arms are being wrung in outrage at ‘invasion of privacy’ and righteous indignation is being expressed at Google’s storing every single search ever searched on Google. On the other side, happily disinterested in the brouhaha, salacious details of personal lives are available for reading in the hope that your reading may end up in cash.
We now have not just a new media, but an astonishingly focused media, rich in revenue possibilities.
But that’s the irony of it. Imagine the chaos if the Catholic Church announced that audio recordings of your confessions were to be made available as down-loadable podcasts. Unthinkable, isn’t it? Apparently, if you yourself did that, for a little coin, it’s another matter.