Disney’s MagicBands: Cool or Creepy?

I’m pretty public and open with my data. I use a Fitbit to track my activity, and most of my online activity is fairly public. I’ve often joked that Google could probably clone me pretty well – they’ve got SO much data on me – who I chat with (and what we talk about), who I email with, what I do on my cellphone, what types of news I read (and don’t read), where I shop, what I buy, etc. You can imagine my interest, then, in reading this article on GigaOm over the weekend from John Foreman, of MailChimp.

Disney MagicBand

It’s titled “You Don’t Want Your Privacy: Disney and the Meat Space Data Race” and it’s a fantastic article about the new ‘MagicBands’ bracelets that attendees at Disney’s theme parks can get to improve their experience. It’s a long read, but well worth it – John goes into the capabilities of the bands, as well as some of the future use-case scenarios. Scenarios that benefit both Disney AND attendees.

Essentially, the band tracks you everywhere in the park, and collects data about your habits while you’re there. They can use this information for good, i.e. sending a character to entertain your family when you’re in a long line and close to exhaustion. They could also use this for nefarious purposes, such as positioning a dude hawking Lemon Chills along your path at JUST the right times to catch you when you’re likely to succumb to the $10 price tag.

It’s really not too different from those little membership cards that you find at grocery stores. They give you a discount on select items, you tell them when you shop, and what you typically buy.

Normally, I find things like this really nice – more personal tracking means (theoretically, at least) more relevant advertising. If I’m going to get a pile of coupons in the mail, wouldn’t it be better if they were coupons for things I actually buy/use, rather than a random selection of crap?

How Do You Feel About Companies Tracking You?

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