When using search engines, it doesn’t matter if the phrase “mailman” was entered by a dog or a father of some kid who wants to play a mailman

Drugi jezik na kojem je dostupan ovaj članak: Bosnian

By: Tomasz Pirc, stručnjak za korisničko iskustvo i partner, Innovatif

Peter Steiner’s cartoon is one of my first memories related to the internet. I don’t recall whether I saw it when it came out, or a couple of years later when I got internet access and the opportunity to confirm his claim on my own. It’s not just one of the first, but it’s also one of those memes I still love to pull out today. For example, I’ve used it for years to illustrate how much Google has influenced advertising, when they placed interests before demographics. Namely, when using a search engine, it’s not important whether the phrase “mailman” was typed by a dog or a father of a kid who would like to play the postman. Perhaps the nuances come to the fore only when you need to use the credit card to buy that mailman costume, if you know what I mean. The most important thing is the intent expressed by entering the phrase in the search field.

What in such an ecosystem actually remains for the target groups and personal characteristics? At first glance, it seems, very little. Then a potential customer comes to a website and the seller has no information to help him adjust his offer or way of selling. All right, so then let the customer present themselves, or even categorize themselves. But it quickly turns out that the visitor isn’t quite impressed with the proposed solution. Imagine how frustrating it would be if we had to explicitly tell every salesperson in every shoe store our information that she should have recognized already at the first glance of us when we entered the store. In an effort to communicate more effectively with the parties, websites have offered them the ability to open user accounts where they can even store their data for introductory presentation. However, not just those they explicitly state, but also those that they “imply” when they do something in our store. The same principles of compiling a profile, but on a much more sophisticated level – mainly because they have access to larger amounts of data – are used in advertising systems on the internet, enabling them to efficiently target and analyze behavior.

At the same time, we have created thousands of identities which are extremely difficult to manage. Personal data protection becomes a real nightmare. The change that the digital ecosystem already calls for is the establishment of a digitized person – an identity that will be stored with us, and in which we will be able to determine which information we are willing to share with others. Some data, such as age or sex, we will transmit to most systems, while others will be shared only with those carefully selected few. Such an identity should also allow the storage of interactions between an individual and an internet site that should not store these information by itself. A big challenge will be how to protect such identity from abuse. And how to enable masking ourselves when need be. Just so that Steiner’s comic wouldn’t become irrelevant. It will be interesting to observe how this change will affect the efficiency of communication.