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Blippy: Telling the World About the Stuff You Buy

| 21 Jan 2010 20:45
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Are you a desperate attention whore with a credit card and no sense of discretion? Then maybe you should check out Blippy, a new social networking site that tracks your buying habits and shares them with the world.

I just don't get it. Has the concept of privacy become so alien to the average mouth-breather that nothing in their lives is exempt from being broadcast from one end of the internet to the other? Do we just not care any more about the kind of information we put out for the world to see, not just with our knowledge but with our blessing? And why do so many people have this need to share the dull banalities of their day-to-day lives with everyone around them anyway?

Behold Blippy, a new social networking site that takes that concept to a whole new extreme. Users create an account, attach their personal financial information to it and then sit back and watch as their every purchase, online and off, is posted in Twitter-like fashion for all the world to see. Online retailers like Amazon, Netflix and Woot! can be linked directly, while banking and credit card information can also be entered, allowing the site to track and list purchases no matter where they're made.

"Typically what people do is they connect one credit card to Blippy, and then the rest of your credit cards are private," Blippy co-founder Philip Kaplan told CNN. "So when you buy something that you think is vaguely interesting - it could be from a restaurant that you are at, or, you know, getting a bagel for lunch, or literally just buying gas, something that's not private - you use your shared card, your Blippy card, and it's automatically shared with your friends."

Kaplan was a little evasive when asked about the site's potential for abuse. "The way that we say it is, the worst thing that could happen is you're totally boring. There are people on the site who all they do is buy gas and groceries. Maybe that doesn't look great for them, you know. They should go to a restaurant or a bar or something," he said.

"I bought a bunch of holiday gifts for my wife on Blippy and they all showed up on Blippy," he continued. "She was like, 'Oh my god, I love you. Thank you!' It was fine! You know. It was a new way to give a present, in a way."

What exactly that has to do with protecting the security of your personal finances is beyond me, but it's pretty clear that Kaplan isn't too concerned about keeping his life hidden from prying eyes. In response to people who worried that their dildo purchases might show up online, he said, "I actually went to a store called 'Does Your Mother Know.' I said, first of all, the store has to have a name like that so everybody knows what it is. So I found a store with a name like that in the Castro section of San Francisco."

"So I went to that store and I bought a sexy gift for my wife, and of course it showed up on the site," he said. "And it was funny! I didn't really care."

I'm not sure what I find more distressing: The fact that people are willing to hand over their credit card information just so they can keep the world abreast of the stupid crap they buy, or that people think the rest of the world cares about the stupid crap they buy in the first place. It's a mindset I just cannot get my head around, although I suspect that the philosophy of "I didn't really care" figures largely in it. I also can't help but wonder if maybe this is all some kind of weird social experiment to see how much people are willing to give up in order to be at the cutting edge of the latest online hipness. Whatever the case, Blippy is one social trend that I won't mind missing out on - and I sure won't be above pointing and laughing if it all comes crashing down on someone.

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