Look at this sign:
The sign above is showing your internet address, the interweb service you are running, your operating system and the internet browser you are using. When you are online, there is a great deal of information about you that just hangs out there for someone to pick up.
Have you ever looked at the left hand side of your screen when you are search Google? There will be ads for your area. Mine say things like, ‘Buy a home in Sacramento!’ They know that I am surfing from Sacramento because of that 10 digit number above. The XX.XXX.XX.XXX number that Mr. McCain (which who should be holding the sign at this moment. It rotates through the candidates) is holding is registered to an area of the country that can be referenced by the ad software.
So what else do they know about us? Cookies. They know about cookies. Cookies are little text files that are stored on your computer so a website can more quickly identify you. For example, you check your mail and go to bed. You wake up and power your system on and go to your e-mail site. It usually at least remembers your name. All it did was read a cookie on your system. These same cookies can be used to track your internet usage and send it back to companies to try and further evaluate your habits.
Now when it comes to cookies tracking me, I used to believe that it was absolutely wrong and I would do anything to stop it. I would wipe out my cookies every 15 minutes and routinely purge my browsing history. But then I got to thinking: Why not make it harder to figure me out? So now I get online, go to Woot, then to the Starbucks website, surf on over to AARP and pull up a few articles. From there I head to my favorite bodybuilding website for albino midgets and wrap it up with a trip through the Green, Libertarian, Reconstructive Monarchist site just for good measure. All in all, it make me feel better.
And so it goes.