"Advertising is not well. Though companies supported by advertising still dominate the landscape and capture the popular imagination, cracks are beginning to show in the very financial foundations of the web. Despite the best efforts of an industry, advertising is becoming less and less effective online. The once reliable fuel that powered a generation of innovations on the web is slowly, but perceptibly beginning to falter. Consider the long-term trend: when the first banner advertisement emerged online in 1994, it reported a (now) staggering clickthrough rate of 78%. By 2011, the average Facebook advertisement clickthrough rate sat dramatically lower at 0.05%. Even if only a rough proxy, something underlies such a dramatic change in the ability for an advertisement to pique the interest of users online. What underlies this decline, and what does it mean for the Internet at large? This short [PDF] paper puts forth the argument for peak advertising—the argument that an overall slowing in online advertising will eventually force a significant (and potentially painful) shift in the structure of business online. Like the theory of Peak Oil that it references, the goal is not to look to the immediate upcoming quarter, but to think on the decade-long scale about the business models that sustain the Internet." [more inside]
Free Money for Everyone - "A wacky-sounding idea with surprisingly conservative roots may be our best hope for escaping endless, grinding economic stagnation." (via) [more inside]
But that didn't prevent On the Media producer Sarah Abdurrahman and several members of her family and friends from being detained at a Canadian-US border while on the way home from a wedding. The story is all the more frightening as it details Sarah's inability to get any answers about policy from the Border Patrol, including the name of the officers who held her.
The Secret History of Privacy. "Something creepy happened when mystery became secular, secrecy became a technology, and privacy became a right..." [Via]
"If the government is able to learn what we speak about, and know who we're talking to, and know what it is that we're planning, it makes any kind of activism extremely difficult, because secrecy and privacy are prerequisites to effective activism. "Glenn Greenwald on challenging the surveillance state: (1 - 2 - 3 - 4).
"And with millions of chicks checking in daily, there's never been a better time to be on the hunt...."
A column by John Brownlee over at Cult of Mac yesterday highlighted his privacy concerns about the app Girls Around Me -- which used a mashup of FourSquare check-ins, Google Maps and Facebook public profile information to show the user women who were nearby. In response to the story, Foursquare cut off the app's API access to their data, effectively knocking it out of commission. CNET: How to prevent friends checking you into locations at Facebook Places. [more inside]
The concept behind VoyURL is simple: A browser plugin records your every click, which you can then choose to share publicly in a real-time feed. Their website analyzes and shows you your online history in customized infographics, to identify patterns, recommend content and help you learn more about the way you use the internet. You can see the browsing history of all users in one giant timeline or follow a specific user. The service is currently in beta, but you can slip in here or here. [more inside]
American law enforcement demands for Google users’ personal information surged by 29 percent during the past six months according to Google's transparency report. [more inside]
All I want is to be left alone in my average home... But why do I always feel I'm in the twilight zone?
In August 2011, 35 ACLU affiliates filed 381 requests in 32 states with local law enforcement agencies seeking to uncover when, why and how they are using cell phone location data to track Americans. So how long do American cell phone carriers retain information about your calls, text messages, and data use? According to data gathered by the US Department of Justice, it can be as little as a few days or up to seven years, depending on your provider. (Via / More)
The Wall Street Journal's What They Know blog is charged with determining what information marketers are capable of learning about internet users through tracking technology. This weekend, they took aim at Facebook, after their investigation discovered that many popular apps on the social-networking site, including those by Zynga, have been transmitting identifying information in the form of User ID's to dozens of advertising and Internet tracking companies, even if a user has enabled strict privacy settings. Additional analysis. Response post on Facebook's Developer Blog. Forbes' blogger Kashmir Hill asks if the WSJ is overreacting, and Techcrunch notes that the severity and risks of UID transferral are still being debated.
It's been estimated that the average UK adult is now registered on more than 700 databases and is caught many times each day by nearly five million CCTV cameras. So how hard would it be for an average citizen to disappear completely? That’s the subject of a new documentary film: Erasing David, (Trailer: YouTube, Vimeo) which premieres this evening in the UK on More4. It's also now available worldwide online at the iTunes store and through several Video On Demand services, as well as through Good Screenings. [more inside]
This morning, Google launched a new feature called "Google Dashboard" that lets users view (and in some cases control,) what data is being stored on a range of more than 20 Google services, including Gmail, Calendar, Docs, Web History, Orkut, YouTube, Picasa, Talk, Reader, Alerts and Latitude. [more inside]
ACLU Watch List Counter: U.S. Terror List Now Exceeds 900,000 Names. That's an awful lot of terrorists. More Privacy and Surveillance Filter: Bruce Schneier on The Myth of the 'Transparent Society', Glenn Greenwald on The Banality of the Surveillance State, and Stephen Colbert on AT & Treason. [more inside]