Personal Identity or Digital Profile?

Do you feel like a person, or a profile?

As the ad world increasingly embraces microtargeting, our individuality grows less defined by how we encounter culture, and more corrupted by how content is assigned to us.

This happens fast, via exchanges that sell our data via the cookies embedded in our Web browsers, and according to the places we spend time while online or using our mobiles devices. The innovation that is “real-time bidding” has certainly revolutionized the ad buy, and though it has its skeptics, it is being adopted by advertisers at a rapid click.

A recent feature in The New York Times Magazine provides a nice primer on the topic, with perspectives from both sides of the aisle. It’s clear to many that as technologies further enable life to mimic art (see the flip phone / StarTrek), we inch closer and closer to becoming one with our devices. Read up on Google’s plans for Glass the “augmented reality head mounted display” they unveiled last year.

As advertisers chase us around, and penetrate further and further into our personal lives via digital devices, the question of privacy becomes more than germane. Microtargeting serves ads to us based on where we’ve been before which creates an ever-narrowing conical experience if we’re not careful.

In the conclusion of the Times article, Eli Pariser, author of the book “The Filter Bubble”, puts it as such:

“Personalization can lead you down a road to a kind of informational determinism in which what you’ve clicked in the past determines what you see next – a Web history you’re doomed to repeat. You can get stuck in a static, ever-narrowing version of yourself – an endless you-loop.”

Time to turn off your cookies, kiddos.

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