I'm sure everyone is familiar with the phenomenon of experiencing the same ads cropping up on many different sites as we surf the net.
The reason why I constantly get ads for camera equipment, but Maggie continually gets them for [...in the interests of privacy and matrimonial harmony, this piece of information has been removed...] is simple - cookies (small bits of data inserted into your browser by websites - not biscuits) are tracked by various commercial organisations.
The more sites you visit, the more indepth a profile of the kinds of things you are interested in is built up. So ads are then targetted at you based on your web-visiting activities.
Most of this is done without your knowledge and you have to have very high security settings on your browser to defend against many of them.
There are advantages and disadvantages to having your web movements tracked. For example, it means you can visit your favourite sites and they welcome you back without having to sign in every time. Based on your profile, sites can offer you products and services tailored to your personality rather than bombarding you with irrelevant ads.
However, the price we pay for this convenience is a loss of freedom of privacy. And if the Government gets its own way and introduces the bill that will allow them to monitor and store every email we send, skype conversation we have and trace our movements to every website we visit, then we had better pray that all this highly personal, intimate and private information on us is never hacked into or abused, and that there will never be a corrupt person in government, the civil service or the security services. Ever.
Google, meanwhile, has made it easy for you to see, edit and even opt-out of the profile it has on you for its ad programmes.
Most of us wonder how other people see us, but we can never be sure. Just asking someone isn't likely to guarantee an honest response. But seeing how a computer programme dispassionately profiles us based on our web habits can be a bit odd.
Some seem uncannily accurate, where others just leave you thinking, how on earth did they come to that conclusion? Of course your profile will be skewed if you've been busy looking information for someone else or searching for gifts.
So with mine, it seems fairly obvious that camera equipment would feature strongly, and the body art stuff reflects all the tattoo photography I was researching before the Convention (see a few posts back). Although I haven't quite figured out why it thinks I'm interested in either drums & percussion or gems and jewelry.
The biggest shock, however, comes from the demographics section. Apparently I have the viewing habits of a young woman rather than a middle-aged man.
Does this mean I have a youthful outlook in life and am in touch with my feminine side? Or is my stepdaughter using my computer when I'm out the house...