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Scott McKay is a Toronto strategist, writer, creative director, patient manager, half-baked photographer and forcibly retired playwright.

This little site is designed to introduce him and his thoughts to the world. (Whether the world appreciates the intro is another matter.) If you'd like to chat, then you can guess what the boxes below are for.



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    "They had their cynical code worked out. The public are swine; advertising is the rattling of a stick inside a swill-bucket."

          – George Orwell






    "Advertising – a judicious mix of flattery and threats."

          – Northrop Frye






    "Chess is as an elaborate a waste of time as has ever been devised outside an advertising agency."

          – Raymond Chandler


    Entries in Facebook (3)


    I'm not dead yet

    Based on a recent post, my site traffic should now be rivalling Facebook's, thanks to my recent prolonged absence. (Apologies for that. You know, work.) For some reason, however, that seems not to be the case, so my faith in regular posting has been restored.

    Besides, I prefer to have some semblance of a coherent thought before I sit down to peck away at this thing; otherwise, I'd be on Twitter more. (Okay, not quite fair – but it's not like Twitter allows you to wedge more than half a thought into that damn field.)

    So, this is more of a quick housekeeping post to declare my return to the long-form digital life. And in honour of the recommencement of the hubbub, a sign of rebirth:


    why Facebook makes this marketer a little queasy 

    Over at the Twist Image blog Six Pixels of Separation, they've been having an interesting debate about Facebook and consumer expectations of privacy. It's worth a read.

    As a marketer, it is of course obvious that Facebook will find ways to monetize the insane amounts of dedicated, even obsessive usage they get. It's not a public service after all; it's a business, and it costs money to handle that traffic.

    One of the main ways they're monetizing is to sell advertising, or to put it another way, to sell advertisers information about the people who use Facebook. This is after all how newspapers, magazines, radio stations and TV networks have been making money for decades.

    I also know that Facebook didn't start out with a clear business model, and is still (last I can find) "moving toward profitability." So I get that they're being aggressive in looking for new revenue streams and evolving their business model, as they say.

    Yeah, but...

    After the recent hubbub regarding changes to Facebook, like several of the people in the Six Pixels debate I was pretty sanguine about the changes. I vaguely remembered a message from them late last year about privacy settings, and like a lot of people I'd accepted their recommendation without a lot of thought. It's a social media site, and social means public. Nothing you put up there is private.

    But I had restricted pictures of my family and some other info to be viewed by friends only. Only as I now went back through my privacy settings (which I explored pretty fully when I first posted the shots) I realized that the new reco had included a host of new options and settings, and the default to all of them was not just that everybody on Facebook could see them, but that everybody (and Google) could see them. WTF?

    I quickly changed all the settings I could find, looking hard for new, unexpected or hidden permissions and options.

    Needless to say, I wasn't pleased that I had to go searching for all this; Facebook is noted for making account management painfully difficult.

    Now, I'm late to the game on this. And as several commenters note, I have no expectation of privacy on Facebook or anywhere else on the web. But Facebook themselves have given me reason to believe that I am in control of who on Facebook I share things with. And they have led me to believe that the only person who can change those settings is me.

    Covenant might be a strong word, but I would call it an unwritten contract. And they broke that contract by misleading me about the changes they made to my privacy settings. This kind of "don't bother reading the fine print" attitude wouldn't survive examination by any consumer protection watchdog.

    And I know what Facebook's vision is, of a personalized web where Facebook and your FB friends go with you everywhere you go; shopping, reading, watching, everyone linking to and feeding everyone else all the time. As a marketer, I know it's a boon for marketing.

    What's galling is that, while I'm not a web monkey or early adopter, I'm reasonably clued in to technology thanks to my job. And I'm at least a little curious about how things work. But as I recently wrote, there are lots of people who aren't clued in or curious. They've never stood in line to buy an iPhone or iPad, let alone changed the default settings on their email app. They type URLs into search bars. They probably don't know which browsers they're using.

    They just use technology, they don't think about it, or obsess over it, or write about it. They have better things to do.

    People like this, i.e., most Canadians, have absolutely no idea about the degree to which Facebook is using their "private" information to monetize their business, or that they are integrating it all with the wider web. And Facebook needs to think about them, talk to them, be responsible to them – not to those of us who are mired in marketing deep enough to have this debate.

    If Facebook doesn't start being a lot more transparent about this vision and what it really means for the average user, the recent uprising may only be the beginning of some very bad times for them.


    "the new facebook sucks> NOW LET ME IN."

    We overestimate people all the time. Not their intelligence necessarily, or their common sense, but their familiarity with what some of us consider to be basic rules and tools for living.

    We expect that they won't simultaneously eat, brush their hair and talk on the phone while driving a car, and yet, every few weeks, someone gets pulled over by the cops for doing something pretty much like that.

    I know a marketing person who, when first confronted with a mouse for her computer, pointed it at her screen, expecting it to do something. (This was well after the introduction of Windows 3 in our office.)

    The Internet is no different, as we all know. People still respond to emails from Nigerian princes looking for a little help moving their riches. Reasonably intelligent people – people who hold down steady jobs, who have post-secondary degrees and who vote – are at this moment typing URLs into Google instead of into the convenient address bar at the top of their browser window.

    In marketing we have to remember that these people are usually a big chunk of our target audience. Even when they're sitting at a shiny new Macbook Pro, working in the latest version of Firefox or Safari, they don't necessarily know what we exepct them to know. And I believe as marketers that it's just smart for us to recognize that.

    But this is unbelievable.

    And yet, it happened.

    People will not pay attention to even the most obvious signs that they are not on the site they think they've clicked on. They will try to enter their log-in and password in fields that look nothing like log-ins, in order to make a site that is not Facebook become Facebook and work like Facebook.

    Um, let's not make assumptions about things being "obvious" in our work.