Cookie monster

Cookie monster

: I like cookies. Cookies are good. Cookies are our friends.

Cookies remember my passwords, because I can’t. Cookies remember which ads I’ve suffered through so I don’t have to suffer through them again. Cookies can target content and ads to what I want. Most important, cookies allow sites to more accurately count their audience and traffic so advertisers can pay them to support those sites I like.

I am a cookie monster. I firmly believe we need more cookies. We need cookies on blogs so we, too, can make that money and support this medium. We need cookies on RSS so we can count that audience, too (everybody’s linking to TLB ecosystem traffic counts but the truth is that they’re pretty meaningless because they don’t include RSS readership — I’m now serving four times more RSS than HTML — because RSS isn’t cookied).

But there is an idiotic belief in some quarters that cookies are bad because they somehow impinge on our privacy — when, in fact, I dare anyone to say how a content site’s simple traffic-tracking cookie violates your privacy in any meaningful way.

Privacy is the boogeyword of the age. It is tech’s version of politically correct idiocy. All you have to do is invoke the spectre of “privacy” against someone and they’re assumed to be evil. It’s a particularly comical form of nerd McCarthyism: I have in my hand a list of cookies!

All this is leading to stupid moves that hurt the internet: its convenience, its revenue, its business.

Spyware programs massacre cookies (and with them, your passwords and other helpful bits). Firefox kills cookies on some regular basis. Cookies aren’t being built into new programs that matter, like RSS readers.

The result for publishers is that they can no longer accurately count their audience for advertisers, to support their work: At my old day job, we saw what looked like a rise in audience but in fact was a rise in cookie murders, making old friends look like new audience. Ad agencies will catch up to this and use it to devalue our new medium (which is already horribly devalued against overpriced old, mass, untargeted media).

So the media and marketing industries have decided to fight back. They started I’m not a member and didn’t know it was starting up but Fred Wilson told me about it and I will sign up. See Fred’s anti-anti-cookie screed here. And here’s a Wall Street Journal story about the effort (free link).

It’s time to take the cooties off of cookies!