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Esther Dyson Headshot

Release 0.91: Cookie Crumble Contest Revisited

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Hi Jeff -

This is in response to Jeff Chester's comment to my previous post - where he says it is "inappropriate" for me to be involved because of my connections with the marketing world. (I'm also linked nformally to TRUSTe and to the EFF, for what it's worth.)

First, Jeff, thanks for taking the trouble to write. Here's an open-letter response:

Jeff Chester is free to - and does - disagree, but I think it makes total sense to have a marketer as *one* of the judges, just as it makes sense to have at least one consumer and one consumer advocate...and beyond that, to mix it up a little. We are not about to award a government contract that would need "objective" criteria, whatever those are. In fact, I think he is taking this all way too seriously; it's merely a light-hearted educational effort - an attempt to get people to pay attention to something about which they are mostly both ignorant and paranoid.

My *real* goal is simply to have a variety of explanations and views aired - including Jeff's! - and to encourage people to think for themselves and make their own judgments - about the videos, about the data they share, about the qualifications and biases of the judges, about the motivations of marketers and their "trusted" partners, and the motivations of self-designated consumer advocates.

Bias

Personally, I believe in disclosure of conflicts and biases. I'm biased and proud of it.

And so is everyone else. So I want people to have enough information to define and protect their own interests and understand others' interests, rather than have someone else purport to handle everything for them. Individuals have different preferences, about everything from what happens to their data, to what products they buy, what ads they click on and what videos they watch.

The problem is that so much discussion of this stuff is boring to anyone other than experts, and so people don't bother to understand it. With luck, the videos will make it interesting.

And finally, as I said, I fully xpect a couple of the videos to be about abuse, and I expect the judges to discuss that, too.. I think that is a good thing. There are reasons cookies have a bad reputation, and it's worth understanding those reasons and making accurate distinctions between use and abuse (and not just of cookies, but of data).

FWIW - I one ran a workshop on spyware - yes, not just adware - and to some folks' initial horror, I insisted on inviting people from the top-4 adware/spyware companies, along with anti-spyware vendors, a lawyer for Ellit Sptizer, and people from the FTC.. It was one of the best meetings I have ever held or attended, and I would guess that most of the participants would say the same. It's amazing how much you can learn if you have an open mind...and if the info is presented in an interesting way.

Esther