These days everything has passwords, sign-ins, PINS, & we all have multiple accounts, the invasion doubles when you try to keep your work and personal lives separated.
Now there’s this weird trend, and it’s one I’m not sure I’m comfortable with.
After a long run of being able to view my YouTube subscriptions using Apple TV, they’ve recently changed things. My YouTube stuff has been reset with a recent release of the Apple TV firmware. Now when I ask to take a look at my subscriptions, My Apple TV tells me…
“Sign in, Get better video recommendations, watch your playlists and subscriptions, and find channels you love. On your phone, tablet, or computer, got to youtube.com/activate and enter: UISU-GWGB”
Problem is that I ALREADY had signed in the old way, perhaps a year ago. You know where I gave them my ID and password and everything was working great. Now not only do I have to sign in again, but this new sign-in method will probably add another data point to my overall profile at Google.
This is one of those situations where someone, somewhere is trying to link the string of pearls of my life together via my devices.
The problem is that I’m a human being, and that by most standards implies a certain amount of social interaction. Heck I might log into a device like an Apple TV to show a favorite video or selection of videos to friends at their house on their Apple TV, or Roku, or Chrome, or even their smart TV, instead of my own.
Pushing this method of registration limits that interaction, forcing instead that sharing be done via a device with a browser.
YouTube isn’t the only one using this method. Several of the TV networks, HBO, Showtime, Cinemax, History, and even PBS have been using this register/activate this device at our website model for a while. In those cases they wanted you to register at your Cable/Dish provider, or directly with their website.
The problem is that the major TV networks and PBS, can be provided over the air without a Cable provider. So the whole registration model makes no sense for them unless they provide a way to register you’re on an antenna.
But DUDE we’re trying to make your user experience better, this way your devices will be forever linked and we’ll push you things our systems determine that you’re likely to be happiest with.
In my life, I want to see the stuff I select and I don’t want content filtered by a computer, no matter how sophisticated it’s algorithms.
I am becoming more uncomfortable with linkages of this type.
At the risk of sounding like I’ve got a tinfoil hat on. The whole register / activate model doesn’t seem all that insidious until you consider what information this registration can collect. Here’s a short list just off the top of my head.
Number of device(s) you own
location (via IP)
Type of device & manufacturer (via that funny code), your name, your account information (via Cable Provider or in this case Google.)
Socio Economic status (number of devices + your cable bill and premium channels vs. over the air only.)
You could make a case for ability to detect approximate educational level and even number of adults or if there are children in the house and possibly the political affiliation of the home just from viewing habits. Nielsen has been doing this kind of thing for years and I’ll bet their algorithms are damn efficient.
Speed of your internet connection, when cross referenced against number of providers in your area, this can provide another data point in your social economic status. Do you have basic DSL or are you in a top tier FiOs or Cable plan?