Loving/Hating Digital Small-Town Life
“Why, o why, cant’ shopping online be more like going to the corner store, where they know me, know what I buy, and give me personal service?”
Online shopping critiques nearly always include this plaintive plea. Sometimes a site is applauded for coming close, some of the time. More often, a site or company is excoriated for #fail at even coming close.
This is the Love part of Life in the Digital Small-Town: Personalization Gained.
“My every move is being watched and recorded. My personal information is being sold on the open market. I am creeped out, and I am not going to take it anymore! Cease Immediately!”
Online privacy commentary always includes this demand.
This is the Hate part of Life in the Digital Small-Town: Privacy Lost.
If you have much of an online life, you are living in the Digital Small-Town. Everyone notices what you are doing, and some of them talk about you. In the real-life small-town, most observers forget most of the details, and even the most dedicated gossips can’t pull together all the scraps of your public life. In the Digital Small-Town, nothing is forgotten and all is aggre-gated.
In the real-life small-town, you don’t own the observation of your actions. You can’t keep people from talking about you. All you can do is dress and act modestly, and hope you aren’t very interesting.
In the Digital Small-Town, you also don’t own or control observations about your actions. If you spend money or vote, you are interesting. There are almost no regulatory constraints on the use of data about you: the constraints are all industry-imposed, motivated by the urgent need to keep you calm and compliant about privacy. The payback, which is improving rapidly, is online journeys that are designed to please you.
Some people love, or are coming to love, life in the digital small-town. Some people hate it. Most of us have a Love-Hate relationship with life in the digital small-town. But love it or hate it, if you have a live online, this is where you live.