Observation and Design

Richard Stowey's localised view of the world.

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Google Analytics and Closed Circuit Television

December 27th, 2010 @ 11:00 GMT by Richard Stowey

CCTV meets Consumerism

Whether it’s Google Analytics or another analytical application for measuring and analysing the online performance of your website, I can see many similarities between people’s opinions of analytical software and closed circuit television (CCTV).

Google have started to offer a brower plugin for Internet Explorer (versions 7 and 8), Google Chrome (4.x and higher) and Mozilla Firefox (3.5 and higher) which allows users to opt-out of being tracked by Google Analytics.

Some web and real life users believe that we’re entering a world of being constantly watched everywhere we turn, and some people even starting of accusing Google of knowing too much about us. Taking into account the information about Google collecting Wi-fi data, street-view privacy invasions and other data they are annonymously mining, it may have an element of truth, but does it really matter?

I’d like to liken the widespread use of Google Analytics to the days when CCTV started to become prevailant. CCTV is now pretty much everywhere, with the exception of your bedroom! I would say that now it’s generally regarded as useful, rather than an invasion of people’s privacy.

Ok, so they’re not the same thing, but I think they have similar motives. Where CCTV provides insight and protection (for both watcher and watched), GA provides insight and the ability for webmasters to improve online experiences by observing what people do on their websites. Tracking people’s progress, which in most cases is completely anonymous, leads to finding problems, introducing new features and gradually improving the performance of the overall system. Surely this is beneficial to all web users?

So, i’d like to plead with people – please don’t opt out of Google Analytics tracking. Help us make the web a better performing, more accessible and supportive environment!

CCTV meets Consumerism by The B@man, on Flickr

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