The Web is, all too often for my comfort, devolving into the creepy. This is a sense that has been "creeping" up on me for the last several months, but the word is becoming increasingly common amongst those who have a platform to comment on such things.
I was most recently struck by the issue this this morning when I re-tweeted a post by Dave Winer about how a new iPhone photo product called Path, had without his permission, read his address book so it could make recommendations about who he might want to connect with on Path.
To me, creepy.
Then I read Dare Obasanjo's piece today about location services where he describes the auto location broadcasting feature of the Loopt iPhone app as "creepy".
And of course there is Eric Schmidt describing Google's policy as "to get right up to the creepy line and not cross it." Others would suggest that Google has failed at discerning that line. Fast Company recently published a piece outlining many of Schmidt's recent pronouncements entitled The 7 Creepy Faux Pas of Eric Schmidt.
Of course, when we are talking about where the creepy line is, we probably should also mention Facebook.
But the thing is, in a world where more and more information is available about us, it seems inevitable that we are just at the beginning of defining what is and isn't creepy. My perception of where that line is, is, I suspect, different from a 20 year old college student, who may not see any line at all. Clearly many don't. On the other hand, most of the people complaining about this stuff are probably closer to my age than to that college kid.
Amongst the populace that matters, it seems to me that what I think of as creepy just isn't that creepy to enough people to matter. In fact, I think that those of us who are concerned about the "line" are destined to die off or become numbed to the phenomenon and accepting of it. Fighting the bit by bit erasure of the "creepy line" is, I think about akin to fighting music piracy. Whatever moral arguments we may make just don't matter when the tide is going the other direction. Refusenicks will be replaced by kids who would be totally comfortable being the lead in the Truman Show.
And so my answer to the question of "what to do about it" is, nothing. Get with the program. You will be assimilated.