A Book Named Fred
Among other things, the Arduino-based RFID reader I built allowed me to sense when a book (which I named Fred) passed a sensor. What would a book tweet? Possibly it would announce itself as it passed from one reader to another.
To see what this might look like, I asked people following my Twitter feed to send their own locations to @fredfeeder.
Your cellphone's GPS is already tracking you. Consumers were alarmed to find out that one mall was experimenting with technology that watched the movements of individual shoppers by tracking unique identifying codes emitted from their cellphones (Matyszczyk, 2011). After much handwringing, the test was halted.
In related news, researchers recently studied anonymized cellphone data and discovered that an individual's daily movement was 93% predictable (Song et al., 2010). Once someone knows where you went, they know where you'll probably be going.
As Ben Vershbow (2006) pointed out, the book is now reading you: Five years before the announcement of Google+, Vershbow suggested that Google's attempts to track user data tied into its marketing strategies. The phrase has an alarmist ring to it, but what can you call it besides "vast paranoid conspiracy"?
Or perhaps it only feels that way from the outside: Clive Thompson (2008), among others, has commented on the ambient awareness built up out of that stream of tiny, mundane details. We're trading our demographic data (with advertisers) for a sense of intimacy (with friends).