Post of the Day
May 24, 2000

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Starbucks

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Subject:  Another Look at the Future of Advertising
Author:  benwood

You are on your lunch hour taking a walk. A Scan Cluster of 3 10-GHz PCs is assigned to tracking your current movements through the last several shops via your hip-belted cell phone.

You hesitate in front of the area hospital...

Quickly, your entire profile database is recalled and processed. After a split-second review of your harvested and correlated medical records, a massive database of internet wanderings including recent visits to medical sites dealing with prostate cancer (where you lingered a few minutes longer that usual), and a comment on a medical form that revealed that your father died of prostate cancer, the expert manipulation system springs into action.

An archive is accessed and a best-fit voice image is created that has a 95% match to your own mother's. "Mom" records a message and delivers it to your cell phone.

Your cell phone beeps, and you play the message...

Mom implores you to get a checkup for prostate cancer at the hospital you are standing in front of so you don't die like your father, and reminds you that you have three kids at home who depend on you, your finances can't take much of a hit if you are out of work, and you carry big balances on your credit cards. Plus, it reminds you that your wife's job is anything but secure, what with that reprimand she received recently for deleting all those privacy records from the corporate database.

You are still unsure...

An electronic billboard across the street pops up with an ad seemingly meant only for you (in actuality, it was based on psychological profiling that was achieved based on what shops you just visited, what you recently purchased in mail order, what internet sites you visited, your portfolio balance, what your medical records reveal, the numbers you chose on your last 100 Lotto tickets, and the information that your father died of prostate cancer and that you were seeing a grief counselor just two years ago). It depicts a mom and three kids at a funeral home grieving.

You fidget...

Behind the scenes, sensing the kill, the thread manipulating your life is kicked upstairs to the Urgent Processing Center, a cluster of a dozen 100 GHz PCs with access of up-to-the-millisecond data about you, plus all other databases regarding the businesses and individuals in the one block radius of where you are now standing (plus satellite imagery and weather conditions and forecasts). It makes the connection between your mail order gourmet coffee purchases and the Grand Opening of a Starbucks kiosk.

Game, Set, Match!

An e-mail with discount coupon is prepared and rushed to your pocket computer, which beeps just one second after the billboard switches to another ad (some other shopper stops to ponder it). You check your message and discover that you can get a free latte inside the hospital, but it expires in 10 minutes.

You step into the hospital and locate the Starbucks, which happens to be situated next to the Urology Clinic. The electronic bulletin board at the clinic entrance displays a message: "Have loved ones at home that depend on you? Have a history of prostate cancer in your family? Get a checkup today, and your co-pay will be waived you are a subscriber to Blue Shield Insurance."

As you sip your latte, you think, "What a coincidence, that's my insurance, and I do owe it to my kids -- they depend on me." You step inside.

The UPC kicks the thread down to the Maintenance Mac, which makes an addendum to your profile regarding the recent successful transaction. The cluster wires an electronic payment to the Starbucks kiosk for the latte, pays for the 30-second billboard spot, and applies for the commission from the hospital for your exam and any other windfalls (in the event of a positive test result). It also files a referral-rights claim for any prostate-related medical care for you for the next 6 months at any other area medical facility.

Your mind safely occupied for the next few minutes, the thousands of Scan Clusters search for other profitable influences with the the other 280 million US citizens.

The Political Cluster, a loosely connected network of lowlife 80286 PCs, coordinates donations to each Senator's campaign fund to ensure that personal privacy remains in the care of their corporate sponsors, where it belongs.


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