Ask Dave Taylor: Tech and Business


Now that privacy is dead, Gator proves to be the killer app after all

Years and years ago I worked with the team that produced a very slick little downloadable application called Gator. Gator would watch what Web sites you visited and pop up contextually relevant adverts and coupons in its own window, along with easy form auto-fill and a digital "wallet" for payment information. Gator was vilified by the online community and paraded about as the ultimate triumph of commerce over information, of the evils of capitalism crushing the eager egalitarianism of the mythical "open network".

Gator, the company, still exists today, and still garners controversy, albeit under its new moniker of Claria Corporation and Gator, the application, has spawned two progeny, Gator Wallet and Dash Bar.

Today my colleagues at LinkedIn told me about a new system, LinkedIn JobsInsider, and rather to my surprise it's another standalone app that keeps track of where you surf and pops up useful information based on what you're viewing in your Web browser.

At this point in the evolution of the Web, though, we don't even think about these tracking applications. The Alexa toolbar, the Google toolbar, the Yahoo toolbar, etc. etc., all dutifully track where you go and report back that information to a central server, and far from people being upset by that violation of privacy, most are eager to download and install...