a.s.ambulanzen on Wed, 18 Aug 1999 18:49:39 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> societies of control (1)



          Wired News

          Levi's Brave New World

          perspective by James Glave

          3:00 a.m. 16.Aug.99.PDT

          SAN FRANCISCO -- Big Brother wore khakis.

          Either that, or he'll be watching you buy yours at the new
          flagship Levi's Store, opening here Tuesday.

          At the lavish, frenetic, 24,000-square-foot, four-story
          complex, you are invited to deliver the most intimate
          details about you and your body in exchange for a dazzling
          entertainment experience and a perfect pair of jeans.

          The corporate take is slightly different, of course.

          "It's the intersection of technology and the best a brand
          has to offer," said Gary Magnus, content and development
          director for Levi's Global Retailing.

          The store of the future is aimed at teenagers who have grown
          up plugged into big-screen video, electronic art, digital
          audio, and high-speed Net connections.

          It is also a digital nerve center wired with more than 40
          miles of cable, hundreds of speakers, and video routers, all
          pumping video and MP3. Customers can take a dip in a hot tub
          for true shrink-to-fit jeans, then stand in a human-size
          blow dryer while watching experimental films.

          Store visitors can also spy on other customers with remote
          operated videocam "periscopes" that tilt, pan, and zoom.
          They peer into tourist nexus Union Square across the street,
          but not into the fitting rooms.

          The store is engineered for fun.

          It's also orchestrated to learn as much as possible about
          its customers, right down to their very fingertips and bust
          sizes. The resulting profiles are uploaded at the end of
          each business day to a Levi's corporate data warehouse.

          Once there, data mining programs get to work, creating
          personalized direct mail campaigns.

          "We use biometrics so we can track people," Magnus said. "If
          [customers] don't want to participate they don't have to. It
          is a fun thing. We ask for your approval every step of the

          Indeed, before soliciting fingerprints or personal data,
          customers step up to a kiosk where they read the company's
          privacy policy on a computer screen. The long statement
          scrolls across a terminal screen at annoying typewriter

          "I'm not gonna wait for this. I'll just hit 'I Agree.'"

          The result: A store that learns through sensory seduction.
          "It's collaborative filtering," said Gregory Ercolino, of
          Ercolino Productions, who handled the store's technical
          design and integration.

          Of course, it's all optional.

          Fingerprint identification is not required for visitors to
          enjoy anything in the store. Customers can delete their
          record at any time, and no processed data is shared or sold
          to any third party. The firm will only will use the
          information for its own marketing programs.

          That makes the data precious.

          "[The data] is a gold mine, yes," said Siobhan O'Hara, the
          company's customization director.

          This Levi's store represents the first large-scale voluntary
          collection of biometric marketing data in the country, if
          not the world.

          What's unsettling to privacy advocates, however, is the
          fingerprinting. Demographic data can be fudged on a Web
          page, but a fingerprint -- an irrevocable, permanent part of
          our human identity -- is forever.

          "There is a broader issue here, where many people don't
          fully understand the long-rage consequences of giving
          intensely personal data, like detailed body measurements, to
          a third party," said Alan Davidson of the Center for
          Democracy in Technology.

          However, Levi's contends that young people were very keen on
          personalization and customization.

          For example, in-store kiosks welcome customers by name when
          they log in.

          The system even learns about a customer's musical tastes
          based on his choices at CD listening stations, including
          what tracks he switches off, and after how long.

          Two floors up, customers are invited to partly disrobe and
          step into the Levi's Original Spin -- a private booth that
          scans their body in three dimensions to suggest an
          appropriate fit of jeans. The dimensions are added to the
          customer's profile.

          Levis takes great pains to assure customers that the
          information is confidential. But Davidson pointed out that,
          if subpoenaed by law enforcement or another government
          agency, Levi's would be forced to turn over the biometric

          "Personally, I find it frightening that there is a
          market-driven model that leads us to massive and highly
          personal data collection linked to unshakable biometric
          data," Davidson said.

          A nonprofit group, Privacy International, sees the Levi's
          store as the realization of a Huxleyan nightmare.

          "This is the perfect way of softening up the population --
          make people believe the forfeiture of their identity is
          glamorous and beneficial," said the group's executive
          director, Simon Davies.

          "But in 20 years' time, when people are routinely handing
          over their fingerprints, you will discover a generation that
          totally loses its capacity for anonymity -- and that is the
          germination of an authoritarian state."

          The executive director of a biometrics industry association
          said that most consumers are very gung-ho on fingerprints
          and iris scans.

          "The consumer acceptance of biometrics has been very solid,"
          said Rick Norton, executive director of the International
          Biometric Industry Association. "There has not been a lot of
          resistance from customers."

          After all, who can resist a perfect-fitting pair of jeans?




          Wired News

          Here's to the Crazy Ads

          by Craig Bicknell

          3:00 a.m. 17.Aug.99.PDT

          Porn stars sell Palm Pilots. Ted Kaczynski plugs Apple

          Bulimic models sell Calvin Klein perfume. OK, that's not
          new, but these models are actually hunched over the bowl.

          Has the advertising world gone bonkers? Nope, these are all
          spoofs of well-known ads that have been slapped together and
          tossed up on the Web, often to the considerable
          consternation of the advertiser.

          With dot coms everywhere spending as much as half their
          operating budgets on marketing, and with online advertising
          expected to mushroom to US$30-plus billion in the next five
          years, spoofers are gearing up, too.

          "As corporations move to take over the world, we the people
          have to find ways to take back the power," said Kalle Lasn,
          editor and publisher of Adbusters Magazine, which publishes
          both a print edition and an online gallery of ad send-ups.

          Corporate reactions vary. Apple Computer, for example,
          shrugged off a spoof of one of its most famous campaigns.

          An anonymous prankster lifted the voice-over from one of
          Apple's "Think Different" TV ads and dubbed it over footage
          of some folks who really think different(ly).

          "Here's to the crazy ones," intones the golden-throated
          narrator as convicted Unabomber Ted Kaczynski is led in
          shackles to court. "The misfits, the rebels, the
          troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes," the
          narration continues over clips of convicted Oklahoma City
          bomber Timothy McVeigh and OJ Simpson.

          The spoof artists saved the video in QuickTime, and Web
          surfers promptly emailed copies of it all over the world.

          Other companies haven't been so forgiving of the instant
          online ad satire that pops up almost as soon as they launch
          a new campaign.

          When independent Web designer Jason Kottke lampooned 3Com's
          "Simply Palm" Palm Pilot ads by posting his own "Simply
          Porn" adaptation, 3Com's lawyers promptly fired off a
          cease-and-desist letter.

          Kottke took down the ads. Trouble for 3Com was, when
          Kottke's friends learned that 3Com had threatened him with
          legal action, they made sure to post mirror copies of the
          "Simply Porn" ads all over the Web.

          News outlets got ahold of the story and portrayed Kottke as
          David with a Web browser.

          "All in all, the whole thing worked out quite well for me
          and rather poorly for 3Com," said Kottke. "I learned a bunch
          about copyright and trademark laws, saw the power of the Web
          grassroots movement first hand, and have lots of press
          clippings for my scrapbook. All 3Com got was a bunch of
          negative publicity."

          Lawyers who help companies protect their corporate images
          said the 3Com incident succinctly points up the perils of
          the Web for brandholders.

          "[A spoof] can spread instantaneously," said Robert
          Phillips, head of the trademark department at Arnold White &
          Durkee in Menlo Park, California. "You have to try and
          approach the people and resolve the situation amicably and
          try to stop the use from spreading."

          Corporations police the use of their brands because misuse
          can erode a company's legal claim to its own product names.
          Dynamite, for instance, used to be a brand name, but it fell
          into common usage and the owner lost all legal rights to it.

          While there have always been spoof ads in print, Phillips
          said the Web has unleashed a parody storm that may well
          scuttle any attempts by corporations to control it.

          "When you have the Internet, which is such a huge universe
          of material, it's real difficult to police it," he said.

          That doesn't mean companies won't try. Phillips, who
          represents a major technology company, finds at least one
          parody ad a month that he believes steps over the line from
          First Amendment-protected free speech into the murky realm
          of "brand tarnishment."

          In a nutshell, a brand can be legally "tarnished" when it's
          linked with shoddy products or to porn or drug-oriented Web
          sites. In a famous 1972 case, for instance, a court found
          that the creators of a poster showing a Coca-Cola label
          altered to read "Enjoy Cocaine" had crossed the line.

          While most states have had brand-tarnishment laws for years,
          the US government has only had one since 1996. There is
          scant federal case law that defines the boundary between
          acceptable and unacceptable parody.

          That leaves a lot of wiggle room for corporations to file
          for injunctions against spoofers, and it makes satirists
          like Kalle Lasn nervous.

          "It's making me feel a little more vulnerable," he said. "If
          we can't dick around with other people's ads, then we're

          To help settle the matter, Lasn has become even more
          aggressive in his satirical provocation. He's trying to push
          companies to sue so that he and his lawyers can help defend
          in court what he feels are free-speech rights.

          Lasn thinks his targets, however, are sensing that coming
          after him will bring them nothing but bad publicity. "We
          deliberately provoke them, but they don't take the bait,"
          Lasn said.

          Not all spoofers show Lasn's resolve, said Phillips.

          "A lot of times people settle. A lot of times they don't
          want to bother," he said.

          Phillips is quick to point out that he only pursues legal
          action in cases of blatant tarnishment. Typically, that
          means he targets spoofs that are used to promote a competing
          product, are linked to porn, or contain foul language.

          "If it's obvious that it's intended to be humor only, that's
          no big deal," he said.

          Lasn, however, notes that his parodies, including a send-up
          of a Calvin Klein ad that shows a bulimic model doubled over
          a toilet, are intended to be a lot more than humor.

          "At the bottom of what we're doing is a very serious thing,"
          he said.




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