In just a few weeks there will be a gathering of 25,000 librarians in the streets of San Francisco for the American Library Association annual meeting. The topics on my mind as the meeting draws closer? How patrons intersect with advertising and privacy when using our services. What one person can do to level the information access divide using free software. Where is technology in our society going to take us next. Heady topics for heady times.
In this week’s Thursday Threads we look at the rise of fake social media influence, how a young media company (Netflix) is now bigger than an old media company (CBS), and a reminder of how secrecy in constructing trade agreements is a bad idea.
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Are you paranoid yet? Are you worried that the secret you shared anonymously might come right back to you? Or wondering why advertisements seem to follow you around from web page to web page? Or just creeped out by internet-enabled services tracking your every move? Or angry that mobile carriers made it very easy for anyone to track every page you visited from your smartphone? Or maybe you will simply give up any personal information for a delicious cookie? (Are you paranoid now?)
Why does Google do what it does? A report by the faberNovel management consulting firm describes Google’s “key success factors” and how it goes about achieving them. The report talks about “Google as platform” and goes on to describe how it makes money serving the network effects of that platform. For instance, it subsidizes one side of its platform — search engine users searching for free — to gain large amounts of traffic (eyeballs) that advertisers want (the network effect). Even more than that, though, Google sees advertising as a form of information in and of itself. The report says: “With [its system of selecting ads to be placed on a page], Google is able to claim that their ads are in fact a way for them to provide additional information to the user.”