Welcome to the Beacosystem

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Corporate capitalism fuels an ever-expanding marketing race, which means a competitive, ever-expanding effort to study and profitably re-design off-the-job behavior.

Today’s New York Times carries an interesting story by Michael Kwet on what Kwet calls “the beacosystem.” This is the growing deployment of movement-tracking-and-recording Bluetooth beacons in retail and other spaces. The practice is known in the trade as “geomarketing.”

The means of accomplishing this immensely valuable form of behavioral monitoring is, of course, the cellular telephone. Apparently, many apps have deals to build undisclosed beacon tracking capability into their products:

The makers of many popular apps, such as those for news or weather updates, insert these toolkits into their apps. They might be paid by the beacon companies or receive other benefits, like detailed reports on their users.

And, of course, the story gets even worse. According to Kwet:

There is no easy way to determine which apps on your phone have the beacon location tracking built in. Even if you did know which companies have access to your beacon data, there’s no way to know what kind of data is collected through the app. It could be your micro-location, dwell time or foot traffic, but it can also include data from the app, such as your name, and your app data can be combined with other data sets compiled about you by data brokers. There is simply no transparency.

Directors of Empathy

This, per Advertising Age, exists:

Scott Madden is senior partner-director of empathy and evolution at Boston-based Connelly Partners.

It gets even better. Here’s the promise from said agency:

At Connelly Partners, we believe in the undeniable power of empathy. So we weave it into every piece of communications we create. We call it Empathy Engineering. It’s what helps our work resonate with your target in a more powerful and memorable fashion. It’s not rocket science. It’s marketing science.

Empathy engineering. Nuff said.

Private Enterprise and Its “Regulation”

The New York Times is having one of its better days. Two separate stories expose the same simple but unmentionable truth: capitalists, with the quiet cooperation of the nominally public political structures they dominate, kill and despoil for money.

Story One: “Obviously, we’re all oil industry.”

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Meanwhile, on the Production Side

Seems job satisfaction of U.S. workers is at an all-time low.

Under market totalitarianism, the ordinary people are not supposed to expect jobs to be a source of happiness or personal growth.  As Noam Chomsky says, when it comes to their internal structure and operations, private businesses are unaccountable tyrannies.  A few minimal regulations keep the most egregious kinds of theft and endangerment under some external control, but beyond that, going on the wage-clock generally means finding a way to make it through another stretch of deadening mindlessness and stress.

It speaks volumes about the completeness of our overclass’s social domination that, in our time of Great Recession, we constantly hear about “cutting back” on our shopping and product-acquisition, but nobody dares suggest that maybe we could resolve many of our frustrations and dilemmas by taking a radical democratic look at work and employment issues.

And not to pile on, but one might also note how well the current dilemma was predicted in 1974 by one Harry Braverman, who was consciously trying to extend Baran and Sweezy’s Monopoly Capital.  Braverman’s book reads like it was written yesterday.  The only missing piece is a chapter on the globalization of employment.

On that last point, reader Mapp posted this fascinating comment and link.