As, Suzanne Norman (2015) reflects, “so much for the data trap.” In the Bezosphere of 2019, data governs decisions, policies and movements, but as everyday web civilians, what does our trail mean? How do we contribute to analytics, and as such, how does our online behavior dictate what we see, what is created and how, as bloggers, we design, re-design and promote what we post and share?
In the past month, Google Analytics has shown that ReRouted has had 28 users, 63 sessions, 28.57% bounce rate and an average of 5 minutes and 58 seconds spent on the site. This bounce rate is considerable, particularly now, as it’s significance was discussed in tutorial, and I hope to believe its due to my content and not just family members and friends reading a couple pages of this blog. The average length of a session seems to match the length of a post or two. So, it makes sense having these two analytics do ‘well’ in terms of an amature blog.
As noted by the Pod Academy (2016), our blissful lack of awareness in leaving breadcrumbs of ourselves online is something we’re not entirely aware of, and unlike brick and mortar libraries and bookstores, what we touch is counted, assessed and re-presented to us as marketing chameleons. Our blogs then, become digital shapeshifters; responding to what is required in order to elicit activity and move users towards content that generates data we like to see. The question is, does Google utilize analytics as a kind resource for bloggers and developers alike, or is it a self-serving service that gives them access to ours, as well as our readers’ information? Moreover, does this matter?
Here, Brian Mac Namee (2016) suggests that yes, we leave data trails everywhere we go, but this is the world we live in, and like other things we have come to accept, we must forge ahead and understand that there are consequences of convenience. Further, he argues that data trails do not equate to a dystopian now, but rather, these are algorithm breakthroughs that are exciting from the perspective of science. On Apparel, Venkat Viswanathan (2017) agrees, but from a consumer perspective; we are leaving an identifiable residue of activity that teaches us about consumption, impulsivity and behavior. Is this ethical? I’m not certain I am the right person to suggest either side of the fence, but in living within a digital world that targets my interests, shares my data and influences what I see, I offer my implied consent.
This begs the question; are we aware of what we are contributing to; this murky pool of data? If we apply the concept of implied consent, can our understanding suggest to the omnipotent social creators like Google, that we accept all ramifications of dropping data behind us for the collection and interpretation of others? Alternatively, what factors jeopardize implied consent, such as age, ability, demographic, disability, etc? Do people really know what they’re getting themselves into, and if they do, is it too late for them to wash the trail behind them?
Is our information public? This question has been of contentious debate, which you can read about here, but in consideration of our understanding of the Internet as a public space, we should, as we would in a mall or library, be aware that our activity is not private. Education and awareness is fundamental in providing society the tools, or at least the knowledge, that our actions are observable, and while less pervasive, our purchases have always been recorded. So, are Google and Amazon the culprits of this contention, or is it capitalism in general? We are quick to blame technology, but like a race to the finish, we’re always pointing fingers at whomever crosses the line first.