Thursday, July 14, 2005

Corporate surveillance

Would you let corporate market-researchers observe your private rituals in your home? How much would you have to be paid? Also in that bizarre Journal story about vacuuming (since when is this news? And why is this story getting jump?) is an account of how P&G were ale to determine the various niches in the floor-cleaning market. You wouldn't have thought the clean/not clean dichotomy admitted more than one niche, but there you are: cleaning needs compose a "spectrum" and P&G is committed to differentiating as many points on that spectrum as possible. Remember: confusion and clutter in the marketplace is good, for as professional shoppers we look forward to the challenges of sorting all that junk out, and because we need a really specific narrowly-pitched product to feel our shopping labors have really succeeded, that is, have defined who we are. Anyway, Robert Godfroid, a "senior scientist" for P&G explains, "It was enlightening to go into homes. Watching people allows you to learn things that they can't even tell you about." No kidding. But why in the fucking world would you let P&G "scientists" into your house in order that a multinational corporation can know you better than you yourself do? Then by the end of the article Godfroid/Cold God is blithely generalizing about the behavior of individuals cleaning, as if their actions are as simple and easily explicable as ants in an ant-farm. Corporations only observe behavior in order to simplify it to motives that suit them, which they then promulgate as factual observations. They do not observe behabior in order to accomodate it. They would very much like us to believe that they are only trying to help us do what we want and get what we need, but that's only so we'll open ourselves up to further surveillance.

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