Thursday, March 09, 2006

Gmail reads our emails - do you mind?

I've talked in the past about my age crisis and already explained that it cannot go away given that it's not something that gets any better...

But really, most of the time I don't think about it. Not unless I'm faced with it. That is, faced with the realization that I am, indeed, older. That my views and my life style, my opinions and my actions are different from those around me only because I'm older than they.

Yesterday, I had such a realization and I was curious to see what all of you thought on the matters that were presented and the ones that I constantly felt the odd (old) one out.

The discussion revolved around internet habits. Following the launch of the new Microsoft beta site Windows Live I found out that many use such services as My Yahoo!, Google Personalized Home or some other version by MSN or what not.

My aversion of these sites is exactly because of what they offer - the personalization. I don't want any large company to know what I do and don't like. I mean, we all know that the sole purpose of this is so that they could direct better advertising at us. (Not that I mind advertising, I do understand it's a necessary evil and any site that I read has many ads, just like print newspapers do for example. And we pay for those.)

The others (the younger ones) said that the companies track us anyways, no matter what we do, so why not take advantage of personalized services. Valid point, but still. An example - I use Yahoo! mail but only for subscriptions. Not personal mail. I definitely don't use their calendar or address book options. The last thing I need is for my appointments to be "public" (I know they're not public, but I'm sure they would be tracked by the companies if I used that option).

I also use Gmail, but only for my blog email. What I mean to say is that I don't use any of the services that demand my personal info.

I also don't use myspace, which seems to be very popular with the younger crowd. And all in all it seems that my internet experience is limited compared to others as I don't seek out e-friends. Don't get me wrong, I love my bloggy friends, but that's different, I think.

So my home page is a newspaper and I track my favourite sites through rss feeds on bloglines. Why would I need a service that would track my life and then pass it on to big companies as well?
And don't get me wrong, everybody - young and old - is aware of the tracking, but most seem to accept it and mind it less than I do.

So I guess my question is - do you mind being tracked? Do you try to minimize what is being tracked? Do you think the habits are different because of age or just because I'm me?

I'm really confused and I also feel ancient.

(If anyone wants a Gmail account, btw, let me know.)
Read the rest



redchurch said...

I don't mind being tracked. If we've got to live with advertising, targeted is better than untargeted. I hate random people knocking at my door. Yes, HATE.

But I will actually click on context-relevant google ads purely out of curiosity because they've combed my text and picked up on things I talk about a lot.

It doesn't mean I will buy something from the ad. It doesn't mean anything at all, except that advertising has become less annoying.

Since it's not going to go away any time soon, I'll settle for Less Annoying or Sometimes Interesting. Wouldn't you?

Melly said...

Eric, that's so funny. It's exactly what they (the young ones) said.
But, again, that isn't my problem.
My problem is to put in personal information these services require such as meetings, tasks, address book etc. They offer you a place where you can access everything from emails to friends to appointments - all accessible from one place, and that's what I don't like (not the targeted ads which I usually ignore unless I actually shop for something online, which does happen).

FredCQ said...

I do mind being tracked and having to give personal info to these services. I don't think that it has anything to do with age. With all of the identity theft going on these days, I'm very careful about the information that I give out.

Jack slyde said...

I don't give my personal information or email address to jut any old site. And it really annoys me when other people do it for me, in the case of e-cards, or those online address books and birthday reminder programs.

I don't mind targeted ads, I don't think I've ever clicked on any of them any way. I don't even see the ads in my google account, I honestly couldn't tell where they appear on the page unless i was looking at it. I just filter them out.

Ryan Oakley said...

Being tracked really doesn't bug me. I view the internet as public.

Deborah said...

I hate the profiles, where it's mandatory to post your age and salary range. You just know that they're going to start spamming you, or sell your email to several marketing lists.

Carter said...

I probably shouldn't say this in public, but the information I give to possibly intrusive sites is not always exactly...ummm...accurate. I also have several e-mail accounts that I use, some of them purely as spam bait. I never put my private account on any Web site or in any Web form. That way it stays spam-free. One thing I have done in the past is to track the trackers by purposefully misspelling my name or otherwise giving information that I can then monitor in the spam to see where they got my name. Just for kicks, mind you. Nothing malicious. Really. You can trust me...

Ryan Oakley said...

Likewise Carter. Except for the malicious part.

Jennifer said...

I have three email accounts. Yahoo, which again is my junk mail account (which I give no information to)

A private email which is a good email and miraculously recieves next to no spam at all.

And my own domain email (used mainly for my webpage and my blog).

I don't think I ever fill out personal information (if I'm required to it's never that rotten and bad of me??). Not that I'm paranoid or mind tracking...but I if I can avoid it I do.

That said my blog is filled with plenty of personal information...but that kind of falls into a different category.

Melly said...

Fred, seems you're right and it has nothing to do with age.

I mean, Fred and Jack are around 30 I think, Deborah and I are slightly older and let's add Carter here too, while Ryan and Jennifer are also the same age - late-mid twenties.

Jack, I know what you mean about not seeing the ads. It's odd when I do notice them and then I'm surprised :)

Ryan, you really think it's public? You don't mind Google giving out info a trials and stuff?
Wait a minute, I actually do know you don't just tell any info on the internet.
Oh, I just read your second comment - maybe you're better at aliases than me ;)

Deboarh, I fully agree and it really annoys me too especially on some stupid services that don't really need any of my info.

Carter, no worries. We all do that. Give out wrong info and aliases and it is funny to get spam with one alias or another.
Now, about trusting you, that's a different matter alltogether... ;)

Jennifer, I have about the same division of emails and all that. I guess we're not the only ones :)