[Politech] Reason magazine cover story has unusual privacy

Tue Dec 10 11:45:29 PST 2019


[Disclaimer: I was involved with the Reason article. --Declan]


Putting 40,000 Readers, One by One, on a Cover
Published: April 5, 2004

When the 40,000 subscribers to Reason, the monthly libertarian magazine,

receive a copy of the June issue, they will see on the cover a satellite

photo of a neighborhood - their own neighborhood. And their house will
be graphically circled.

On one level, the project, sort of the ultimate in customized
publishing, is unsurprising: of course a magazine knows where its
subscribers live. But it is still a remarkable demonstration of the
growing number of ways databases can be harnessed. Apart from the cover
image, several advertisements are customized to reflect the recipient's

Nick Gillespie, editor in chief of Reason, said the magazine, with an
editorial mission of "Free Minds, Free Markets,'' used the stunt to
illustrate the cover article about the power and importance of

"Our story is man bites dog," Mr. Gillespie said. "Everybody, including
our magazine, has been harping on the erosion of privacy and the fears
of a database nation. It is a totally legit fear. But they make our
lives unbelievably easier as well, in terms of commercial transactions,
credit, you name it."

Rodger Cosgrove, president of Entremedia, a direct marketing firm and a
member of Reason's board, assisted in coming up with a program that
allows the subscriber list to be integrated with satellite photographs.
He also worked with Xeikon, the manufacturer of the printer that made
the endless customization possible.


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