Syndicating moi

Lorcan 2 min read

I was looking at Macenstein earlier. And was slightly surprised after a while to notice that amongst the Amazon ads appearing on the right were some for very familiar stuff.
Turns out that Macenstein is feeding me my own personalized Amazon data. And it looks as if other people might be similarly surprised as there are several links to ‘privacy information‘.
This explains that Macenstein is an Amazon Associate Web site.

Your browser automatically sends any Amazon cookies on your computer to our server when you view this type of link on an Associate Web site. (For more information about how Amazon uses cookies, see our Privacy Notice.)

Although we may use your cookie to determine whether you are a recognized Amazon visitor and to offer personalized content (such as product recommendations) and special offers, we do not keep or attempt to construct a record of the Web sites you visit. [ Associates Privacy Information]

And in response to a question about whether these ‘placements’ are the same as the personalized recommendations you would see on Amazon itself:

They can be. The products you see listed when visiting an Amazon Associate’s site can be based on a variety of factors, such as that site’s topics and sales history. We might also show you items based on your own personal purchase history at The Associate Web site hosting this link does not have access to these “personalized” recommendations. [ Associates Privacy Information]

I thought this was interesting for several reasons. It is another example of how what we see is increasingly situational, dependent on what a service knows about us. I saw this from our home machine. I would see something different from my work machine. It is also an example of what Steve Rubel says in a very interesting post about making content embeddable in fine-grained ways: “traffic is becoming something that happens elsewhere”.

In the very near future portals including iGoogle, My Yahoo and Netvibes as well as social networks will be able to easily inhale the smallest pieces of content from across the web. Don’t wait. Start now to make everything on your website embeddable. Traffic is becoming something that happens elsewhere, not just on your site. [Micro Persuasion]

Incidentally, I was looking at Macenstein because of the Steve Wozniak story noted by John Naughton.
The Rubel reference, well worth a read, is via dlf-dispatches. Twittering Stu also discusses it.

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