Thursday, January 17, 2008

Shop Till You Drop

Theorist Michel de Certeau argued that certain activities of consumption that are part of the "practices of everyday life" could be seen as tactical maneuvers or even forms of public rhetoric rather than passive behavior that signals acceptance of the status quo. With the news that Microsoft is developing new digital ads for grocery stores that depend on "smart" shopping carts, data from customer loyalty cards, and positioning information appropriate to the shelves on actual aisles, it seems that highly targeted advertising could interfere with the free will generally associated with the experience of browsing.

Now this seems a prime opportunity for hacktivists who might want consumers to be alerted to environmental, labor, or health issues that might otherwise be invisible, by piggybacking on the targeted ad system. Not that I would recommend breaking into a closed computer network, but perhaps those currently planning "shop dropping" campaigns would have some creative ideas.

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