Friday, February 5, 2010
I have recurring nightmares about a dystopian future.
It’s run by a Big Brother-like government (as in the novel, not the TV show). Every move you make is tracked. Each conversation you engage in is recorded. You live in constant fear of doing or saying the wrong thing.
Privacy as a concept no longer exists.
Unfortunately, Americans are sinking deeper and deeper into this repressive future. But they’re doing it on purpose. Cheerfully, even.
Twitter, Facebook, texting, live blogging — all ways to constantly advertise to the public where you are, what you’re doing, who you’re doing it with, etc. Who has time for discretion or subtlety? These snarky comments about that bimbo who just cut in line at Cold Stone Creamery aren’t going to write themselves.
So in this spirit of plummeting privacy, I give you the latest Web site to invade your personal domain. Give a super-sized hello to Blippy.
According to its tagline, “Blippy is a fun and easy way to see and discuss the things people are buying.”
That’s one description. I prefer this: Blippy is a site where your enter your credit card information, and public “blips” of information are sent out to users that tells them what you’re buying. Prices. Locations. Quantity.
Let’s stop and ponder the implications of a few hypothetical purchases.
Say that $200 charge for temporarily ridding your home of brown recluse spiders appears on Blippy. Could that info factor into the decision of whether a prospective owner might buy your house?
That $400 pair of diamond earrings you were hoping to surprise your wife with ... no longer so surprising if she’s on Blippy.
How about that $1,200 outing to the “gentleman’s club” during a work-related conference in Vegas? Wow, those “drinks” must have been expensive. Hey, weren’t you supposed to be attending a seminar that same evening?
Perhaps I’m reading too much into why I have no desire to subject my own financial history to the people of earth. But likely the real hook is more about eavesdropping on what family and friends are buying.
CNN reported that the founders of the site, which launched in January, wanted to explore the idea of what would happen if data that was traditionally private became public. They wondered what it would do to the economy if everybody knew what everybody else was paying for things.
It’s arguable that this could lead to more “viral shopping,” where, say, a celebrity on Blippy purchases a certain perfume and then everyone hoping to imitate that smell scrambles for the same item. But I’m guessing the opposite will occur more often: A user sees how much cheaper someone found an HD TV at the same chain store in a different part of the country, which prompts him to go on a quest to get the money back — or boycott the retailer.
Either way, there’s one purchasing scenario I’m pretty confident about predicting. I bet in less than three years the domain name Blippy.com goes up for sale.
— Entertainment editor Jon Niccum explores facets of pop culture that have established a unique niche on the Internet in Net Worth. He can be reached at 832-7178.