[wp-hackers] Feed stats in WordPress or a plugin

Otto otto at ottodestruct.com
Tue Sep 25 17:40:04 GMT 2007

On 9/25/07, Callum Macdonald <lists.automattic.com at callum-macdonald.com> wrote:
> Personally, I object to the amount and scope of data they collect.
> They use one cookie to track you across all services. So they can link
> your google searching to your mail, calendar, homepage (feeds, etc).
> Then they provide google analytics, thus they can track you across lots
> of other sites.
> Collecting all that data is not evil per se, the part that I dislike is
> that you can't opt-out. If you use their services, they'll track you. I
> can't ask them to delete my data, nor do they publish a policy on when
> (or if ever) data will be deleted.
> Thus I block google-analytics.com, use a Scroogle (a google scraper) and
> run all my google traffic proxied through a single IP. My tinfoil hat
> gets a good workout! :)

Okay, I get you here, but... is there anything specifically evil that
they could do with that data that you object to? Because this sort of
paranoia just seems very, very theoretical to me.

I mean, I'm trying to understand here, but I never have gotten this
sort of thing. I remember when I used to be big on the Tivo forums,
and a lot of people objected to Tivo collecting statistics on
everything everybody watched (anonymous stats, as I went to great
effort to prove).They did have an opt-out, but it was somewhat
cumbersome, but nevertheless, I failed to see then, and am failing to
see now, why anybody would care?

In the case of Tivo, it knew what everybody watched and when, more or
less. Their idea was to sell this information to TV networks (like
Neilsen data). Now, to me, that seemed like a damn good idea that
could only benefit me. I don't care if anybody knows what television I
watch, and in fact I'd like the TV networks to make more of the types
of shows I watch.

So... why the paranoia on that data collection? A lot of people were
really up in arms about it, and I never did find out why from any of
-Stupid crap like "they're collecting this data and using it to make
money!" Well, yeah, so what? I was not aware that making money by
selling useful information to people who want it was wrong.
-Or something equally stupid like "we should be reimbursed for our
data!" The problem with that idea is that your data is worthless. It's
only useful in aggregate, as statistical information. Expecting to get
so much as a penny for your data is overestimating its worth. Also,
you weren't getting paid for it before, why should you get paid for it
now? You're not doing anything to earn money, you're watching TV, same
as you did before.
-Sometimes I saw "They can figure out what shows I watch!" Well, no,
it was actually anonymous, however in theory, yes, it would be
possible. But here's the thing: They don't care what *you* watch. Get
over yourself, nobody is interested in you, you're not a high profile
target. They're interested in trends among large groups. A salesman
who tries to sell to one person is an idiot, because the salesman who
tries to sell to large groups of people makes the real money.

Anyway, this is another case of that same kind of thing. What does
Google *actually* do that's harmful to you in particular? Nothing that
I can see. The data they collect is data that can't hurt me. I don't
care who knows what websites I view. Hey, quite a lot of them are
porn. :)

> You can find out more at http://www.google-watch.org/

I just read quite a lot of that. Sorry, but I'm just unable to achieve
that level of paranoia without some kind of pharmaceutical
intervention. ;-)


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