The Lord High Executioner in the Mikado had a little list, and so does Amazon.com. So does Chapters.com, Postersnow.com (where I got a real cool Che Guevara poster, by the way) and Margaritaville.com. And I’m on all those lists, and so is my address and my American Express numbers. And I’m OK with that.

I’ve been thinking about the issues of technology and security and privacy and “Big Brother” a lot lately, and some recent personal experiences have drawn the issues into sharp focus for me.

The conclusion I’ve reached is simple: this widespread availability of information about all of us, in multiple databases if need be, is a good thing.

Privacy schmivacy – I’m all for the way things are going. You need personal information about me to make my life easier? I’m all over that. Where do I sign up?

Even if you suggest embedding a tiny chip under my skin that identifies who I am and what medical conditions need to be considered in treating me, I’m OK with that. Alternatively, put it all on a single card if you want, I just hope I’m carrying that card when a paramedic finds me after my bike has tangled with a semi-trailer truck. I may not be able to speak for myself, but the card (if I’ve got it on me) or the tiny chip under my skin (always there) can, thank you very much: maybe I’m allergic to penicillin, my health care insurance number is xxxxxxx, and while we’re at it, my preference is for foam pillows rather than feathers if you have to check me into the hospital for an extended stay.

There’s widespread availability of information on each of us. All else is paranoia. Like Frankie Goes to Hollywood said: “Relax.”

The linking together of databases on people, the widespread availability of information, it’s all good. That the police can track a location based on a phone number in seconds? Good. That UPS can track my package through every hand that touched it? Cool. That VISA can track everywhere I’ve been by the purchases I make with their card? No big deal.

Those of a paranoid nature are still welcome to use cash, however, keeping in mind that some those of the paranoid nature also tended to save their money in their mattresses – no security, no interest, but at least they didn’t have to entrust their personal information to that “damned bank.” After all, “they” (whoever “they” are) would ultimately use “private information” to take over the world and enslave others, wouldn’t they?

I choose not to worry. Yes, I’m on lot of mailing lists and databases – but you know what? I’m on mailing lists and databases for cool things that do align with my interests (computers and sophisticated software at work here) – after all, that’s what I’m after.

I subscribe to the New Yorker, and I’m sure that many of the cool mailings I get are generated from that link. And I don’t mind being on that subscribers list they sell either. I can always get my name taken off the list if I want (they offer to do this every issue), but why would I?

On the New Yorker’s list or not, they’re clearly still shaking out some deficiencies in their system. I can’t afford a new Mercedes (I’m a little out of line with their usual income demographics), but their promotion is in line with my interests. And I’m flattered that their computer thinks I’ve got that much disposable income.

I’m all in favour of being on these lists, and if I trust the vendors with my personal information, I hope they use it to full advantage – both mine and theirs. I love the fact that I don’t have to re-type all that crap about myself every time I log in to a familiar Web site – I like that they know me, and that all the formalities can be dispensed with.

A brave new world, and what really convinced me that these new systems and databases loaded up with my personal information were good things was the experience of having my wallet and charge cards stolen a couple of weeks back.

Let’s hear it for AMEX’s and VISA’s intrusive systems…More next time.

Hanley is an IS professional in Calgary. He can be reached at isguerrilla@hotmail.com.

The Lord High Executioner in the Mikado had a little list, and so does Amazon.com. So does Chapters.com, Postersnow.com (where I got a real cool Che Guevara poster, by the way) and Margaritaville.com. And I’m on all those lists, and so is my address and my American Express numbers. And I’m OK with that.

I’ve been thinking about the issues of technology and security and privacy and “Big Brother” a lot lately, and some recent personal experiences have drawn the issues into sharp focus for me.

The conclusion I’ve reached is simple: this widespread availability of information about all of us, in multiple databases if need be, is a good thing.

Privacy schmivacy – I’m all for the way things are going. You need personal information about me to make my life easier? I’m all over that. Where do I sign up?

Even if you suggest embedding a tiny chip under my skin that identifies who I am and what medical conditions need to be considered in treating me, I’m OK with that. Alternatively, put it all on a single card if you want, I just hope I’m carrying that card when a paramedic finds me after my bike has tangled with a semi-trailer truck. I may not be able to speak for myself, but the card (if I’ve got it on me) or the tiny chip under my skin (always there) can, thank you very much: maybe I’m allergic to penicillin, my health care insurance number is xxxxxxx, and while we’re at it, my preference is for foam pillows rather than feathers if you have to check me into the hospital for an extended stay.

There’s widespread availability of information on each of us. All else is paranoia. Like Frankie Goes to Hollywood said: “Relax.”

The linking together of databases on people, the widespread availability of information, it’s all good. That the police can track a location based on a phone number in seconds? Good. That UPS can track my package through every hand that touched it? Cool. That VISA can track everywhere I’ve been by the purchases I make with their card? No big deal.

Those of a paranoid nature are still welcome to use cash, however, keeping in mind that some those of the paranoid nature also tended to save their money in their mattresses – no security, no interest, but at least they didn’t have to entrust their personal information to that “damned bank.” After all, “they” (whoever “they” are) would ultimately use “private information” to take over the world and enslave others, wouldn’t they?

I choose not to worry. Yes, I’m on lot of mailing lists and databases – but you know what? I’m on mailing lists and databases for cool things that do align with my interests (computers and sophisticated software at work here) – after all, that’s what I’m after.

I subscribe to the New Yorker, and I’m sure that many of the cool mailings I get are generated from that link. And I don’t mind being on that subscribers list they sell either. I can always get my name taken off the list if I want (they offer to do this every issue), but why would I?

On the New Yorker’s list or not, they’re clearly still shaking out some deficiencies in their system. I can’t afford a new Mercedes (I’m a little out of line with their usual income demographics), but their promotion is in line with my interests. And I’m flattered that their computer thinks I’ve got that much disposable income.

I’m all in favour of being on these lists, and if I trust the vendors with my personal information, I hope they use it to full advantage – both mine and theirs. I love the fact that I don’t have to re-type all that crap about myself every time I log in to a familiar Web site – I like that they know me, and that all the formalities can be dispensed with.

A brave new world, and what really convinced me that these new systems and databases loaded up with my personal information were good things was the experience of having my wallet and charge cards stolen a couple of weeks back.

Let’s hear it for AMEX’s and VISA’s intrusive systems…More next time.

Hanley is an IS professional in Calgary. He can be reached at isguerrilla@hotmail.com.



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