Privacy. One of the hot topics and burning issues of our time. Bloggers blog on it; conferences conference on it; reporters report on it; governments want to govern on it and…you get the picture.

Truth is it’s a big topic and complex and not new. Ever since it became possible to retain data, it has been a hotly debated and no doubt goes back to ancient Egypt, China and Babylonia where records were used to keep track of the population.

In modern times, credit cards and ease of transaction have compounded the issue and every time there is a “data spill” another red flag gets raised. In fact giving credit card info is one of the biggest barriers to remote (catalog and Internet) purchase although we seem to have no trouble giving it to waiters in restaurants…go figure.

More truth. We have made it worse. We pontificate on our deep knowledge of the consumer – “we know everything” – (I’ve written on this before.) And, if we did really know everything and could really make use of all of that then people would buy whatever we wanted them to buy and the company that actually knew the most would be the only company left selling as consumers clamored to spend their money…RIGHT.

I recently bought an Amazon Kindle – will review in the next couple of weeks – when I turned it on I was pleasantly surprised to see that it was immediately pre-registered, linked to my one-click shopping account and that my Amazon account would mirror the Kindle and that my orders from the Kindle were one click to download. WOW!!!!

After the WOW, I wondered if my privacy had been violated. Did I want them to pre-register; pre-populate connect and activate without my specific permission every step of the way? After a nano-seconds hesitation – damn right I did!!!

So here is the insight: we all love being recognized as previous shoppers/eaters/whatever when we go into stores and restaurants. We like it when the person behind the Starbucks counter remembers that we like our latte “wet and skinny with a quad” and we like one-click shopping on Amazon.

It occurred to me that we all want to be celebrities and that Andy Warhol’s 15 minutes of fame (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/15_minutes_of_fame) or today’s 15mgs of fame is an aspiration that is fairly universal.

So we all want privacy – that is until we really want to remembered and recognized and therein lies the lesson for our business and the programs that we develop. Listen closely:

A celebrity is a person who works hard all his life to become well known, then wears dark glasses to avoid being recognized.
~Fred Allen

And there you have it – to paraphrase Shakespeare – we protest too much….. (The lady doth protest too much, methinks. Hamlet Act 3, scene 2, 222–230)

Sure I don’t want my intimates shared with strangers but nothing beats a personal hello…

More on other privacy later – like Facebook – do I have the right to demand privacy after I let it all hang out?

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