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Publishers on Push: Rebecca Eisenberg
Apr 25, 1997 :: Rebecca Eisenberg

I see push as not much more than a new means of funneling information to a recipient. As such, saying that I am opposed to "push" would be akin to saying that I am opposed to "radio," "television," "movies in theaters," or "3D interactive worlds." In my media critic hat my focus generally lies on the content of the media, rather than in the means by which it reaches the audience.

In particular, I am interested in the methodology by which the providers of push content will or do use to determine my preferences. If the content providers decide my preferences based on stereotyped generalities about my age, gender and income level, and then send me advertisements for sales at Marshall's Clothing Outlet, discounts on brand-name cosmetics, and cooking equipment and recipe books, I will not only turn off their access to my computer, but I will throw a stink about their sexist and condescending assumptions in every venue I can.

On the other hand, if the content providers specifically ask me my preferences, or else take an accurate look at what I do already tend to purchase and/or read, and thus send me announcements or advertisements regarding technology industry news, intellectual property lawsuits filed, unions that have organized, media changes and mergers, and sales on stereo equipment, computer supplies and/or weapons, I will be greatly benefited by their services and make use of them as often as I find convenient.

Along these lines, one of the reasons that I respect Firefly as a content-providing service is that it constantly asks the user to enter her preferences on music, film, and other media. If a participant enters enough preferences, Firefly theoretically should be able to funnel information to him that she finds relevant, and thus save him time on sorting through needless noise in the quest for signal.

Thus, any complaint that I could predict myself having with regard to this so-called revolution in push technology will be based on *what* they are pushing, rather than the fact that they are pushing anything at all.

Rebecca Eisenberg lives in a fantasy world, but she insists that it is better than reality. She lives at



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