Mozilla Opens Up On Cookie-Blocking, Ad Targeting

Mozilla Opens Up On Cookie-Blocking, Ad Targeting.

An interesting interview. A key section:

<quote>

There is a lot of concern among advertisers about the criteria you’re using for the CookieClearinghouse and the cookie-blocking patch. Are you seeking input from advertisers on these projects?

DDT: We’re meeting with publishers, advertisers and exchanges. We need to understand what their concerns are so we can figure out if there is a way to get to an agreement here… We’re never going to please everyone but we’d like to get to a place where there’s an undersanding of what we’re doing. We’re not doing this to mess up businesses but to give the user a voice.

BE: One of the options is already the DAA opt-out and we’re always carrying the torch for Do-Not-Track as an individual user’s expression of “don’t track me.” We think that DNT as an idea matches our mission. It’s about serving people above all agendas.

If someone says I don’t want to be tracked, they send that signal out to websites and we would like integrations not to set third-party cookies. DNT has been adopted by around 17% in the US and 11% globally and we’ve heard from some players who say they would comply with it if it were just a tracking preference.  They would lose about 20% of their audience but they could live with that.

The trick is getting that individual expression to be unadulterated and not automatically set, for example by Microsoft which started pre-setting it in Internet Explorer.”

</quote>

I’m fascinated by this significant shift in the characterization of the modern consumer as liberal person–one ostentatiously divorced from need alone and poised to consume on the basis of desire. Let’s start from the window shopper born in the late 19th c. to the post-WW2 pre-fab suburbanite to the post-’68 me generation infinite consumer to the present obese consumer. The thread has been always one in which the advert subverts better judgement or “will”–at least, until now. We want and the often buy that thing not because it is something we need (laugh) or even really will use fully (sigh), but because “we” enjoy the pleasure (or relief) of acting on the desire, regardless of the actual “origin” of the desire. (I tend to think that origin derives from the mirror logic described initially by Girard and then made a lot more sophisticated and compelling by Borch-Jacobsen (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mikkel_Borch-Jacobsen_. In a sense, desire is a kind of identity.)

Putting aside the politics of choosing, and the critique of “choice” as something equally possible and significant for all, regardless of class and situation, the idea that we, as implicitly rich consumers, not only can, but would want to limit the field of desirable things offered us, is something that has been developing for a couple of years now and which is reaching an interesting point of visibility.

It’s not a new idea–few things are–but it’s prominence in this area is perhaps novel. In fact, the idea, that we can, and indeed, would want, to contract for our desire, is one that’s been figured in bondage writing more or less since its inception. In _Venus in Furs_, as with other Naturalist work, the object of desire is the contract that the protagonist engages in to sell him- and, in other works, herself. 

Which is not to say I object to Mozilla’s intervention. Hardly: I like it. And I tend to believe that the more things are made available for visible examination, the better, not because we can necessarily make wise judgements on their value, but because we at least are given the opportunity to understand those elements constituting us.