New Mediocracy Tracking: XBox meets Nielsen Meters

Nielsen’s set meter is a device that enables the company to track the exact television channel patterns of a sampling of Americans, from which Nielsen then extrapolates the ratings that are determinants for advertising cost and network health. Lee Bell writes in The Inquirer about a Microsoft patent that shows how XBox One could one day track what you watch on television.  The technical details are thin– eyeball-tracking across a living room with a Kinect is not quite reality yet, although we ought to assume it is coming eventually- but the general concept resonates with my New Mediocracy argument, that technology will not merely be content with knowing the channel we are watching. The televisions will check just where we are gazing, and whether commercials draw us in or give us a chance to run to the kitchen for a snack. More interestingly, Bell writes about the patent’s details in proposing future discounts to viewers who watch specific shows.  We have discussed shopping discount cards in past blogs, and specific studies have already demonstrated that shoppers will give up their privacy even for two incremental dollars in savings on top of eight dollars. We are all cheap dates when it comes to privacy.  Can the same value proposition be used on us by aware interfaces? Youtube videos that don’t stop showing the advertising on our computer screen for twenty seconds until we actually look at the screen with our eyeballs for those twenty seconds? Maker movement, come to the rescue: we may all have to print out fake heads we use to fool our computer’s marketing cameras.


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