We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
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Saturday, January 22. 2022
Just a Quirky Thing I Realized
Was talking to a client yesterday and our conversation revolved around their mobile phone number, which indicated a South Jersey area code. They are in California. Another client is moving to California and has an NYC area code. Yet another is in Florida and has a North Jersey area code. I'm in NJ and have an NYC area code.
In some ways, the "anonymization" of life was one of the original draws of the internet. The classic New Yorker cartoon "on the internet, nobody knows you're a dog" was accurate, if not precise, at the time. It's absolutely NOT true today. It is this fact that keeps me working. In a panel discussion, I once pointed out to a college student, who said my company had "sold her data" (we do not, ever, sell data), I pointed out to her that many corporations do sell the data of their site visitors, but good corporations recognize the problems inherent in that behavor, so there are roles in my industry which exist precisely to keep that data safe - or as safe as it can be.
Maintaining a level of anonymity is important for the best parts of the internet to work as they were intended. Anonymity is often important to make meaningful commentary and points (Silence Dogood would approve). The fact the blockchain exists today is, in part, to solve some of these issues (the internet was not meant to be driven by advertising, but the lack of a good payments and anonymity system led to its development as one).
The days of knowing a location based on an area code may be coming to an end. In a lot of ways, that may be a good thing. Hopefully, the days of online anonymity will soon be back, though with some major revisions. It's hard to go back from where we are today. (Personal note - the EU's GPRA and California's CCPA do NOT provide you the protection you think they do, or that politicians have promoted)
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Getting phone calls from an unknown area code is an annoyance. I just blocked one tonight which turned out to be a good friend of mine (I unblocked the number and added it to my contacts list). What creeps me out is our Dish Network satellite subscription. Even though the signal is coming from 23,000 miles in space, they know our lifestyle. They know we're old, hence the advertisements for walk-in bathtubs, stair climber chairs, prescriptions for alzheimers drugs, heart failure drugs, cancer insurance, etc, etc. How do they know?
It's possible they know. But it's more likely they can't sell their ads so they opt for those - which are placed opportunistically in places where the ad slots are going for next to nothing.
My guess is (due to my knowledge of the industry and network in question) is that it is the latter, and not the former.
Just as an FYI, one of the ways they know is that cable (and Dish) are subscriber services, and the information goes to what is known as a "set top box" or some equivalent for satellite service. There are severe limitations on what the companies can do with that data they've collected from subscribers.
But they can use it for themselves. So, they do to a small degree. I say small degree because it's not as prevalent as most people think. Generally speaking, targeted advertising is something advertisers want - but it's very expensive and it's not as useful as many think it is.
Think of it this way. Advertising is meant to do 3 things. One is inform, two is to activate (buying) and three is develop the brand and expand it.
If all you do is target the same people with the same ads (hyper targeting) you have to pay a lot more for that. Eventually the benefit of that blows up. Your experience of annoyance is exactly what they are trying to avoid. But some young marketers haven't learned the downside of hypertargeting yet...and they simply lather, rinse, repeat.
Most marketers HAVE learned the lessons the hard way and are starting to enjoy the benefits of limited targeting and more broad-appeal.
For that reason, I believe they may know who you are, but they aren't targeting you and overwhelming you. That works against them. Usually when you see certain ads over and over and over again (think Chia Pet - Ch-ch-ch-chia!) it's because the open ad slots simply aren't selling and they are being sold at a low rate to opportunistic purchasers. Most of the marketers you mentioned are VERY opportunistic.
I rarely answer a call from an unknown number in a different area code. I figure if it's for real they'll text or leave a message, and if they can't be bothered to do that, it wasn't that important.
"This is an issue which began developing as people have switched from letter writing (street address/town/zip) to email (ISP provider, which can be anywhere)."
And was accelerated by the "you can take your number with you) when switching cell plan providers. For some time now you've taken your number from Connecticut to California if that's where you moved.
Indeed - that is precisely the issue I found quirky, that people in other states had area codes I recognized which were NOT where they were from.
Had a nice talk with a young client from South Jersey...thinking he was in NYC. But he actually had moved home and I had no clue.
It's a good thing, but a little disorienting.
We recently moved to a small town in Arizona, and I was disconcerted to realize that locals still chant out their phone number WITHOUT the area code. Took me a disoriented second to catch on.
Same for a couple of other small towns we visited in our RV. The bell curve of culture change always has its tail-enders.
We moved from Cacafornia to Texas 18 months ago. We each kept our old CA numbers, but a lot of people wouldn't return calls if we gave them our old numbers, so we got local Google Voice numbers.
But as time goes on and people move about the association between area code and geography will slowly start to fade.
I'd like to wish Silence Dogood a belated Happy 316th Birthday this past Monday the 17th...he died at age 84, quite an accomplishment in those days...it makes me sad to think many (most?, all?!) students today don't even know who he was.
Wireless mobile number portability, mandated by the FCC, became available nationwide in 2004. As an employee of mobile tech firms (Motorola, Northern Telecom), I was an ‘early adopter’ - living in Miami (the 305) but carrying a cellphone from southern California (619) - confusing friends and family. Now of course, mismatched area codes / domiciles are commonplace. Fast forward to present and I’ve come full circle. Retired and touring Europe (a month here, a month there) I find it necessary to install a SIM card in my Android in each nation visited . . . which means a new mobile number every few weeks. What is old is new again.
FWIW, we put our cell phone numbers on everything we do. We are much more willing to give out our phone number than our social security number.
You'll give your cell number to the coffee merchant so he can call you when the long-delayed French Press comes in.
Over time, this will mean our cell number reveals more about us than our SSN.
I was pondering something similar the other day, but my thought was that our mobile phone numbers have now become our second Social Security number. Businesses and banks use it to track your accounts, many websites use it to track your profile. Almost anytime you go to get help or transact business, one of the first things you are asked is what's your phone number?
A 1967 movie which might have been the inspiration for all of modernity's ills. The concepts for cell phone networks weren't developed until a few years later.
"TPC (The Phone Company) has developed a "modern electronic miracle", the Cerebrum Communicator (CC), a microelectronic device that can communicate wirelessly with any other CC in the world. With the CC implanted in the brain, a user need only think of the phone number to be called, and is instantly connected, thus eliminating the need for The Phone Company's massive and expensive wired infrastructure. For this to work, every human being will be assigned a [phone] number instead of a name, and will have the CC implanted prenatally...."
My cellphone number has been out there forever. All the discipline I exercise over incoming calls or texts happens on receipt. Every day I type "stop" in response to a raft of solicitations, mostly political, just as I hit "unsubscribe" on a lot of emails. Both these tools sometimes work and sometimes don't, but an organization's persistence tells me what I need to know, and it's not so hard to delete regularly.
I don't hate ads across the board. I appreciate getting information about the available of a product I didn't know existed, as long as the information isn't too intrusive. I use the Brave browser, which cuts out many, many ads, so what's left is manageable.
I sometimes wish merchants and pols would put more effort into the information available on their websites than they do into spamming me. When I do get interested and try to find out what they sell, what their prices are, where they operate, what their hours are, and so on, it's surprising how hard it is to find out. They've got a willing customer on the line, but are wasting the opportunity.
I don't know how folks square this circle: We yearn for accountability and real connection, but are pressed by some subtle threat to hide in anonymity when online.
I'm going to pose an alternative concept that enforces accountability and neutralizes the dread "threat" at the same time.
Resist the threat. Post under your full Christian name. Stand up and be counted. And let the weak, the miserable and the taciturn huddle enslaved under the 'protection' of pseudonyms.
Think about it. Your resistance denies the censors' and 'influencers' hold on your words and mind. This mode assures you, and everyone practicing it, is a stand-up, accountable human being who wants to be held to account in all aspects of her/his life: a noble being. And this mode draws the parasites and predators that prey on the nobles' use of the web out of the digital shadows. Only if you stand on your honest virtues, and demand your FULL rights in the online commons, first can you then prosecute the Phishers, Spammers, Dox'ers et all, in confidence later.
Maybe it's just Sunday, I'm bored and feeling contradictory. But there it is.
h/t George Orwell. Ref: "Inside the Whale" RE Henry Miller's rebuke of American censoriousness. Good Stuff!
I used to post my name online in other forums. Never do now.
Too much risk. It's not that I've done anything wrong - it's that others PERCEIVE that my words are "offensive" and will do damage to me or my reputation for doing so.
I agree with the premise. But it's not practical. It never was. That's why Silence Dogood existed.
Perhaps they've changed it, but I learned in 2005 that cell providers don't share their "phonebooks" between their various area code hubs. I had southern MS number and while I could make calls from my phone when out of the Katrina disaster area in Montgomery, no one could call me because the T-Mobile hub/center/whatever in southern MS was down. Apparently, they couldn't direct calls through another office or something.
As for anonymity, I once tracked down the owners of a lost dog with a Colorado vet's number on his tag in Tennessee. The vet gave me the owners name and I determined they had moved to TN. I finally asked the right person where I saw evidence of a recent move in and animal crates. When I asked if they knew the name I had, it was her husband. The drove over the half mile to my house and their dog jumped in their car. It was disconcerting how much I was able to run down with a phone call and the internet on a Saturday. The flyers I put up at the convenience store and bbq place at the corner a mile down the road did work at all.
I only turn my phone on when my wife and I are not together. Sometimes I go weeks without turning it on. I rarely get calls but if they leave a message I can't get to it. I remember that you could check messages by just selecting that option but now you have to dial a number and put in a password. Why? And worse I can't use my favorite easy to remember password I have to use something with numbers and special characters that I will never remember. So I don't use it. In a way it's good, I never have to check my messages. I don't understand why everyone requires you to have 8 or more characters in the password and embedded numbers and special characters??? What do they care if I want a simple password? Because they do this I simply don't use those systems. My bank accounts send me my statements every month but I can't see them because they want a stupid password. Amazon wants a password so I only buy what I can walk out of the store with. I do not understand mandating passwords or what the password can be!