Of course, you already know there is no privacy left, either online or in three-dimensional life. But all this watching, tracking, data mining, and so on results in diminishment. Eli Pariser has already noted, in The Filter Bubble, that our experience on the Web is being reduced by the Cookie Cops, who read the cookies set on your computer and tattle tale what they find to the advertisers.
I was prompted to write this entry because of recent evidence of Cookie Cop activity. A week or so go, I was doing some research for my Sunday School class about the decline of Western Civilization--what caused it and how we can reverse it, and so on. In the process, our speaker mentioned that the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi brought Transcendental Meditation to the United States, where it had a profound impact. Naturally, I googled "transcendental meditation" to get little more background information.
Now, every site I visit--Target, Home Depot, etc.--presents me with ads for Transcendental Meditation. Some are text ads and some are display. I should be used to it by now, but it still seems unsettling to find ads for something I searched on a month ago showing up on the most unlikely sites, just because I was cookied with those ads. The ads are customized to your searches, so everyone sees different ads on the same Web site.
If civilization consists of shared experiences, cultural values and meaning, then we are in trouble as a civilization, because we share less and less in common as we are all treated to a customized life experience.