One of the funniest things about my blog name is that I am decidedly not paranoid. I eat food off the floor, sometimes I don’t wash fruit before eating it, and I tend to reject every conspiracy theory that comes my way (especially the ones that go something like, “The X lobby has convinced the government to DOOM US ALL!” There is no conspiracy to keep organic food down, or to make sure we keep cooking our food, or to keep Boise State football out of the National Championship. (By the way, see how long ago that Zen Habits post was written? I have wanted to link to that and mock it for almost a year now. The comments are pure gold.))
I say this because there is a new service that went into private beta last Friday called Blippy. Yes, if you’ve ever felt like Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, LinkedIn, etc. didn’t share quite enough of your personal information with random people on the internet, you now have Blippy!
With the tagline “What are your friends buying?” Blippy tracks all of the purchases you make on a single credit card and broadcasts them, much like a Twitter of personal spending (they even have a little “b” as their logo that is similar to the font and color of Twitter’s little “t”). If you use your credit card at an online retailer like Apple or Amazon, the specifics of your purchase – what was bought and the price paid – is also shared. Unlike Twitter, this is passive sharing – you just spend some money, and Blippy does the rest.
To tell you the truth, I wish I had thought of this idea. I think it will probably be huge (I think Facebook’s Beacon might have been huge too if there hadn’t been that big blowup over opting out instead of opting in). It also sort of scares the crap out of me.
In a world where Facebook pitches me (but not Chad!) wedding-themed weight loss plans, it feels like I don’t have a lot of privacy. Usually I don’t mind so much; I put pictures of my face up on my blog, for crying out loud! But this has ominous implications in marketing. If you’re buying a StairMaster, vendors know you’re trying to lose weight, and you’re hit with a million emails for supplements and diet books and dumbell sets. Some people see this personalization as a good thing. I’m not so sure.
Another issue is that of location. If Blippy broadcasts that you spent $3.50 on a latte at your local independent coffeehouse, everyone now knows that you’re at the coffeehouse. If you stop to get gas while leaving your abusive spouse, he knows the route you’re taking.
And while I’m not paranoid, I try to be careful with who sees my credit card information. It’s an identity thief’s dream. Hack the Blippy database, and you have not only the credit card numbers, but you also have spending habits. Just buy a Playstation using the gamer’s card, get some gas with the traveling salesman’s card, go grocery shopping with the housewife’s card… I bet there’s even information on Blippy about where you’re living. If I’m in LA, I know not to use card numbers from Pittsburgh. No need to tip off the fraud department too early.
I do see this as a useful tool for some people. If you’re trying to pay down debt, it could be helpful to have some accountability without exposing your whole credit card statement to the world.
It could be advantageous for business accounts. A corporate assistant, filling out a boss’ expense report, needs to go no further than Blippy, and (s)he has the report filled out and sent off before the boss’ flight even lands. Perhaps the boss could also add comments, such as, “Yes, this charge says ‘Target,’ but that’s because I stopped off and had a pretzel & soda while shopping on my business trip. Totally counts as a business lunch.”
If you just paid $20 for a Snuggie at BBB and your friend knows they have the exact same thing at Walmart for $10, he can helpfully share that information. Bam, you just saved $10 on your Snuggie. Alternatively, maybe you always buy your milk at Vons, but you discover that someone else in your town is paying much less for it at Ralph’s. The more you know! *shooting star*
The nicest thing about Blippy is that I can ignore it. I don’t have to join Blippy, it’s not attached to my Facebook so that if I’m logged in and buying something, my embarassing purchase of all 4 Twilight books is shown to all of my friends.
I probably won’t join Blippy. It will be interesting to see if others do.
What about you? Do you think this would be a product you’d use, or are you paranoidAsteroid about it? More importantly, did the word Blippy seem to lose all meaning as you read this post, which is weird because Blippy isn’t even a real word?