I have a feeling that this is not news for anyone who has been paying attention (or, reading this blog -- see my posts tagged "privacy"), but this WSJ story about a company named Inc. was somewhat of a revelation -- even for a jaded soul like myself.
...firms like tap into vast databases of people's online behaviormainly gathered surreptitiously by tracking technologies that have become ubiquitous on websites across the Internet. They don't have people's names, but cross-reference that data with records of home ownership, family income, marital status and favorite restaurants, among other things. Then, using statistical analysis, they start to make assumptions about the proclivities of individual Web surfers.
"We never don't know anything about someone," says John Nardone, 's chief executive.
The story goes on to further elaborate the impact that tracking technologies and data analysis applications are having upon the web:
the analytical skill of data handlers like is transforming the Internet into a place where people are becoming anonymous in name only. The findings offer an early glimpse of a new, personalized Internet where sites have the ability to adjust many thingslook, content, pricesbased on the kind of person they think you are.
New York-based Demdex Inc., for instance, helps websites build "behavioral data banks" that tap sources including online-browsing records, retail purchases and a database predicting a person's spot in a corporate hierarchy. It crunches the data to help retailers customize their sites to target the person they think is visiting.
Interesting to see the convergence develop -- but I wonder where exactly we're headed?