Sunday, January 21, 2007

Net Devolution

It's sad to consider how much creativity is wasted re-creating the past. For example, radio was "theatre" brought into your living room, and television was "radio with pictures". Now we have netTV. Wired has a piece on the latest hot topic, the "Venice Project". Brought to you by the same folks who brought you Skype, the Venice Project (or "Joost" as it will become named), delivers all the content you could wish for, at the price everyone wants: free.

What's the catch?

Not much really -- just a customer relationship the likes of which you've never seen before.
In fact, this is such a DEEP relationship that the Surgeon-General advises you bend over, grab your ankles and take a very deep breath!
From the Wired article:

"The key in the past was volume and frequency," says Clark. "Now it's going to be quality."

One of the Leiden crew's top priorities is a backend ad engine that can pinpoint viewers by location, time of day, viewing habits, and opt-in profile information to serve up a perfect ad. Developed by open source geeks in privacy-centric Europe, the central database doesn't store any identifying data. Personal information is stored only on the user's own PC. Clark, the ad sales chief, is happy to blue-sky the possibilities: "Buy all the Desperate Housewives viewers in a zip code. Or the first thing a given viewer watches on a given day."

In theory, that kind of control will make the network much more valuable to advertisers. "We offer targeting they've never dreamed about in the TV world," says Werdelin. "And a deeper relationship with customers. Not just deeper than TV, but deeper than most of what you get on the Net. I don't think anyone really knows what those things are worth."
I don't know about you, but I'm certainly relieved to know this double-deep relationship is being stored on my PC!

All cynicism aside, haven't these folks learned anything from the Net? Do they have to be run over by Cluetrain before they get that "perfect ad" brain cramp knocked out of them? Is this why we're fighting for Net Neutrality?

It's natural to want to roll the most powerful aspects of one medium forward into the new medium. But let's leave the unnecessary baggage behind.

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