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Avoiding PMT using Twitter
2010-08-10: Following the furore over Google's Street View taking photographs of people on the street, Facebook's problems with changing its privacy rules, and myType's summary of iPad owners being part of a "selfish elite", playing devil's advocate I've just invented in my head a new service.
Sign up to it, and it will work out who of the people you follow or friend in Twitter or Facebook are female, and then by monitoring their happiness and/or irritability through their status updates, it will work out who is likely to be suffering PMT today.
It can then provide an 'avoid' list to help you steer clear of trouble. Or a 'target' list of those who are more likely to be open to your advances.
Shocking? Disgusting? It's not too far away from deciding whether people called John are happier than people called Brian, or whatever.
I bought a pack of sandwiches from a petrol station yesterday and the sales assistant said "congratulations, you've won 25 Nectar points". I don't know if everyone had won 25 Nectar points, but it could be that I'd been diced and sliced by Nectar's database marketing department according to my buying patterns and some assumptions about how I was currently feeling about Nectar and whether giving me some free points would be to their advantage.
Basically what I'm saying is that Twitter, Facebook, and Google having published their API (Application Programmer Interface .. a way of programmers getting to the information they hold) have provided us .. you, me, everyone .. with a glimpse of the sort of access to mass population data that supermarkets, government and big businesses hold on us.
So there are three things here:
  • If a supermarket wanted to market to women based on their monthly cycles, they would be pilloried if they went public so I guess they'd do it in secret if there was money in it. With you and me, if I wanted, I just could write that PMT app. I think I'm right in saying there's no law that says I can't, yet what woman would want her menstrual cycle writ large on everyone she know's computer screen .. it would hardly help the cause of feminism and equality would it? (Interestingly, that shows the power of consumers to keep businesses in line. That pressure doesn't usually keep geek developers in check.)
  • It's not really possible for us to understand the full extent of what our social media streams reveal about us to people for whom it's worth digging. We just blurt stuff out.
  • There's real power in this social media mallarky, it's only just beginning.
I wonder how many of you male readers are thinking .. "I would download an app like that"?

By John Allsopp
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