Being watched

Apr 2nd, 2011 | By | Category: Personal Columns

What did people do before the Internet arrived?  If people wanted to know something about someone, what did they do?  Did they phone colleagues, or business contacts, or fellow club members, or old boys/girls from the school they attended?  Maybe one of the attractions of the Masons and the numerous other fraternal brotherhoods was the chance to access information that might not otherwise have been available?

No need to roll up your trouser leg now to find out the background on people, just type the name into Google and all sorts of information appears, but why would anyone bother?  Why check out people who are not applying for a job, who are not in contact with you, who are not moving into your neighbourhood, people whom you don’t even know?  It’s odd.

Perhaps the searchers don’t know that they themselves are being watched; perhaps they don’t know they leave a trail, perhaps they would be more circumspect if they knew Woopra provided the website users with details of their Internet Service Provider, their location, the browser they use, even the way in which their computer screen’s monitor is configured.

It is the specific details of blog readers that make them seem strange.  Why would anyone type into Google my name and diocese and then read the ‘About’ page?  What is it they are looking for?  Not looking for a job and not going anywhere, it seems strange that anyone would search for mundane personal details.  Is talking about clergy who live in distant counties a very esoteric pastime?  Do they Google other groups of people as well?

The problem with the Internet is that you cannot ask why questions are being asked.  It is not like being at a dinner or standing in a pub.  Access to a plethora of information is not of great use unless one knows what that information means.  Perhaps someone would devise technology to discern searchers’ purpose.


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