I recently stumbled across this site while Googling myself in the wee hours of the morning (ahem) and trying to find an internet radio account that I had set up some time back. Go figure. It happens, just like Forrest Gump always said it would.
For the uninitiated, Spokeo (a rather awful name) is a people search engine that combs probably the entire damn internet and puts everything about you, or someone else, into a dossier style presentation. It’s quite slick even as a sample. For $3 bucks a month, paid for with a one time fee of almost $36, the service compiles your name, all your internet presence, your address and phone number, your old residences, income information, credit score, habits and a picture and a map to your house and every social site or service that you’ve joined in the last few years. Wow. It does all that. Hold on … and more.
Searches by direct names can be a bit off and somewhat troublesome, but drop in your email address or your phone number and you might be a little shocked at the depth of the information provided.
Would you like to send Corey Feldman an email and tell him either:
1. You’re proud that he stood up and said something about his friend.
2. He’s a sycophant and is riding his friend’s death for more fame.
Choose your own adventure. Literally. Spokeo, ya’ll.
You can and much more. You can even see his address and a picture of his front door. Macabre? A bit. The point, you ask? Well it seems that the metrics that compile data for these folks don’t seem to discriminate the celebs from the normal people and thus they’re listed, too. You can go say hey to Jeremy Piven if you like as well, but he’s not that hard of a guy to find anyway. My house, and all my information, is up there as well -- as is yours, I imagine.
Am I bothered by this? Not really. I could get upset, but what would that solve? Companies like Spokeo, are soon to be the public access sites and will be more prolific than Google. Why? Because everyone is obsessed about this kind of stuff and always will be, and unless Google adds these metrics, they’re tomorrows AOL.
I think, soon, Spokeo will probably adjust their name to ‘Spoken’, as that has much more effect and has a longer lasting reach into the culture and could very easily become another meaning for the word itself.
“Yo, what’s Spoken about Mel Gibson?”
“He’s currently driving down Riverside drive in his Escalade, stopped at a red light. He left the Toluca Lake Bob’s Big Boy five minutes ago. Spent $44.95 on lunch and his power bill just auto-paid at $970. Let’s go.”
I can see your eyes getting bigger from here, dear reader. It’s okay to gasp, you’re not alone.
In the very near future, everything will be added into the metric that will be available on the internet. We may go through a phase of opting out, but eventually it will all reach a searchable and Obama-style “transparency” that some will love and some will hate.This might be a warning to all those folks that invest in artificial friends or anything else that could be considered lascivious in nature or against the grain. I make this example because everyone's level of comfort regarding privacy is different. Consider the following, and how you would feel having ALL this info on the net:
1. Black Box Vehicle data and Vehicle GPS data.
2. Grocery buying habits inclusive of food choices, diet and vices. All POS data.
3. Retail sales and entertainment data. Movies tickets, clothes, Wal-Maze runs at midnight.
4. Internet browsing activity. Google searches.
5. Online shopping.
6. Utility bills and other innocuous data sources.
7. Tax data.
8. Computerized medical records.
9. Bank records.
10. Telephone conversation transcripts.
It may seem hard to believe or difficult to grasp, but even as I feel like William Gibson a bit writing this, it really is inevitable and coming soon to a iPhone near you. We have become so linked, connected, chained to online/internet activity that as time passes, we will become more dependant on it and not less. With every following generation, information breaches will not be seen as privacy intrusive like they are now. What is Spoken about you may just be apart of your status or ‘Master Set,’ as they call it in the social sciences.
Internet information that gets sent in packets from one place to another will eventually leave US server space and be pinged in pieces around the globe at different destinations. It will be the off-shore unrestricted companies that will work overtime to provide reliable, unencrypted data as a standard. The only ones who will have an ability to remain private will be the people controlling the metric. A quick end-game thought of this however, is that anyone not in the metric leaves themselves eventually suspect and under the long arm of the law. Secrets will be the crimes of the future. Damn, what does that make me?Hopefully, they won’t grandfather in what I already know today.
Lenny Bruce must be laughing quietly to himself, sleeping snug in that coffin. He once said that ‘in a democracy, every ones ass is up for grabs’. Maybe he should’ve said in a market economy everyone’s asses are up for grabs, but perhaps it was implied. Let’s find his grave and have it etched outside on a plaque. Maybe someone could see if it’s ‘Spoken’ and head over there with a new Black Sharpie Pen ($2.95 – Target [Mastercard xxxx 9876 10:45pm).
A few years ago I might’ve laughed at a post like this and thought it outlandish and conspiracy laden, even for me. Art Bell has done retired, folks. But this is not just plausible but most likely what’s in store and it will probably happen incrementally, just as it’s happening now. Some folks will say you can either change all your personal data and try to skew it, but what does that say about identity and will people’s identity survive it? Privacy hasn’t, and that’s a fact. Also, changing your data won’t do much as a lot of this info comes and will continue to populate from public record sources and available data that hasn’t been generated by you.
Just as our disposable plastic trash is becoming a huge problem for us in real-time, our e-trash will be equally troublesome for us down the road. Eventually we’re going to have confront all of it in the end.
Tell me … is it Spoken?
Tell me … is it Spoken?