Inconsiderately Polite

College Students' Views on Etiquette Online

The New Age of Technology and Etiquette

on May 2, 2013

This week I read an article called “How Companies Learn Your Secrets” by Charles Duhigg, which looks at how companies can learn your shopping habits by examining routines and buying habits.  He goes on to talk about  how it is hard to change a person’s shopping patterns once they are set, but if you catch a person at the right moment, like when someone is having a baby, they are more vulnerable to change.  Andrew Pole, a statistician, was hired by Target to do analysis into shopping patterns of consumers in order, “to analyze all the cue-routine-reward loops among shoppers and help the company figure out how to exploit them.”  He took particular focus into targeting women who were expecting a baby.  After accumulating data, he noticed certain shopping patterns emerging, which all came from the women’s registries or from something called a Guest ID.

Everyone has a Guest ID number, which shows what you have bought in the past at a certain store and allows for companies to send certain coupons based on what you have bought in the past.  Companies know that once your shopping patterns and routines are set you are unlikely to change them, which makes it easy to use the Guest ID and send coupons based on things you are likely to buy again.  Duhigg also mentions that, “linked to your Guest ID is demographic information like your age, how long it takes you to drive to the store, your estimated salary, whether you’ve moved recently, what credit cards you carry in your wallet and what Web sites you visit.”  Is this going overboard and breaking the rules of etiquette associated with technology?  I thought that this concept was interesting and made me think about etiquette rules that should be used with technology.  If companies can use technology to access this type of information and analyze shopping patterns, what else will they be able to do?

It is amazing to think how technology has allowed for such data to be recorded, and then to be used in a way that creeps into our lives un-expectantly.  So, is it proper etiquette that companies can do such a thing as use a Guest ID?  I think that a lot of people are not even aware of this happening to them.  While, some might feel exploited, others may say that it is helpful because they get coupons for the things they want and will buy each month.  I think that this shows the power of technology, and how much it has grown over the last decades.

Throughout this blog, I have been looking at technology and etiquette, which is now referred to as “netiquette.”  It seems like “netiquette” will only continue to be a growing issue.  I mean if companies can access our shopping habits, what else will they be able to do in the future?  Look at Facebook and its ads.  The ads on the side of the screen are put there because they are targeted towards the things you like, and what kind of things you post on your wall.

The bigger question I think is:  what else will technology allow us to access and what new “netiquette” rules will come into practice?  While this all may seem like people are trying to creep into our lives, it is a part of the world now that has been brought on with the increased and advanced use of technology.  I think that it is important for companies and online site to keep etiquette, or “netiquette,” rules in mind because it will allow for consumers to keep buying products, (while not feeling like they are being too violated) and the companies to keep customers coming back to buy more.

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One response to “The New Age of Technology and Etiquette

  1. horner03 says:

    I blogged about reading this article as well because it was so interesting to me, especially since I shop at Target at least once a week. I can’t believe they have the technology to track a woman’s pregnancy before she even registers at their store. I also think its crazy that companies even think about what kind of credit cards you have in your wallet, how long you shop at the store and other demographics that make up a person. I never heard of the term “netiquette” but I think it is an interesting idea and since technology is so intertwined in today’s classroom, I think it should be taught to kids in school about the proper ways to interact online. If it’s to become a daily part of our lives, academically and socially, then generations to come need to learn to use it the right way.

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Inconsiderately Polite

College Students' Views on Etiquette Online

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