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A few of my faithful readers have written to express their privacy
concerns over Amazon’s new wish
lists, which I raved about in this space last week. You’re all
perfectly right, of course: Amazon is unquestionably gathering loads of
data about our tastes and preferences, data which may in the future be
used or sold for marketing purposes.
But, see, I don’t have a problem with that. If Amazon or its
corporate cronies decide to market to me based on the fact that I
violently desire the $930, 20-volume Oxford
English Dictionary, then that’s just ducky, as far as I’m concerned.
Most of the marketing supposedly targeted at my demographic misses me by
a mile (no, I am not interested in a subscription to New York or
Allure, or in premium cable service, or in anything whatsoever to
do with Ally McBeal). Let them, rather, send me a nice offer for,
say, 20 percent off the $275 CD-ROM
version of the OED, which I might actually take them up on, and it
seems to me that both they and I will be happier for it.
I live in contemporary America and I surf the Net more or less
constantly. Marketing, therefore, is a conspicuous and unavoidable
feature of my life. I try to roll with it and make it work in my favor.
Remember, the sellers of luxury items like books need you more than you
need them. (This is actually questionable in my case, books falling
somewhere between oxygen and protein on my necessities list, but I’m
pretty sure it counts as good logic anyway.) So get all you can out of
them. Learn to work the system. Protect yourself, certainly: use secure
servers, have things delivered to your work address rather than your
home address, click “no” when a screen asks you if you want to receive
newsletters or junk mail, and so forth. But if you try to sit out the
e-marketing thing altogether, you won’t succeed, and like as not you’ll
end up missing out on the next revolution instead of staying engagé and
informed about current e-commerce practice. If so, well, it’s your loss.
I wasn’t going to write about this story here, because it involves a
personal friend, but it’s exploded all over the Internet in the last two
weeks. (Now that it’s entered the annals of Internet legend, in fact,
I’m sorry I didn’t save the several e-mails about the situation I had
from Annie at the time, as they would be of considerable interest to a
lot of folks right now.) The story — which I’m afraid I’m completely
incapable of explaining in any sort of brief: you’ll have to take the
five minutes to read it for yourself — originally spun itself out this
last September in a chat thread about dogs over at Salon’s Table
Talk. Maniacally, outrageously funny as it was, it ended up
disseminating onto several mailing lists, and, eventually, wound up
posted in full on a website belonging to a nifty guy at MIT’s Media Lab.
Then, last Thursday, it was picked up by Suck magazine. That tore it for
me. If Suck’s idiot readers get to read about it, I’m damned
if my very own readers don’t. The meme has triumphed.
Here it is, kids — the incredible Dogs in
Elk story — and my friend Annie can vouch for the fact that all of
it is absolutely true from beginning to end. Enjoy.
WND writer launches own news site
As long as it’s plug-my-friends-and-colleagues day here at
Interscope, WorldNetDaily columnist and libertarian Lew Rockwell has a
brand new “anti stater, anti-war, pro-market” website of his own. It’ll
be carrying his own selections of current news and commentary that he
finds particularly notable for one reason or another, including original
content from the likes of Joseph Sobran and film writer Ron Maxwell.
Lew’s got good taste. Check him
out. His links are many, high-quality, and wide-ranging, and there’s
more there than just incisive commentary: I’m very pleased, for example,
to have discovered through him this
site containing links to all of G. K. Chesterton’s work
that’s available online — in html, text, and, in the longer cases,
downloadable form. Happy me.
Rockwell yesterday provided what I consider a definitive commentary
on the Microsoft case. Those who consider the recent finding of fact in
favor of the federal government against Microsoft to be a bad thing, as
Lew and I do, may want to pay a visit this week to the Microsoft Freedom to
Innovate Network. Receive frequent trial updates, either at the site
or by newsletter, read up on policy, and express yourself — either to
FIN and to Microsoft in general or to your own elected officials —
through convenient links on the site.