Worth Reading: Beware of the Data Third Rail

It used to be that Internet giants fought on the terms of who had the most eyeballs. Nowadays, it’s all about the data: amassing it, crunching it, using it for services and advertising, all without crossing the line. Where that line is depends on who you ask. The general rule of thumb seems to be “don’t surprise your users.” But that runs up against the cardinal dictum of Silicon Valley: Keep innovating or die. David Berkowitz, senior director of emerging media and innovation at digital shop 360i, senses two Internet giants, Google and Facebook, have crossed the line. He dings Google for favoring its social data in search results while Facebook is on the hook for crunching user social information as part of a publishing partnership with Politico. Here’s his take:

In each of these examples, the offending party is being accused of violating the Covenant that was formed between the People and the Chosen Media. It’s a Covenant that says transparency, privacy, and authenticity are sacred. It’s a Covenant that says the People own the Chosen Media, no matter which corporations participate. It’s a Covenant that says that the People’s loyalties are to the Chosen Media, and to each other; everything else is fluid. Few other things are sacred anymore. The prophets of Lucy and Berle and Cosby no longer carry the same resonance. Newer idols, like “American Idol,” work precisely because they resonate through the Chosen Media. In lieu of temple chambers, we have echo chambers. What’s sacred today may not be tomorrow. Yet right now, media companies, marketers, and everyone else must respect the Covenant between the People and the Chosen Media — or face the uproar by those aggrieved.

Read Berkowitz’s full post on his blog, The Marketers Studio. Follow him on Twitter at @dberkowitz.



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