Google has launched Screenwise, a 100% voluntary project that attempts to nail down internet usage statistics from normal, everyday users, rather than the ‘power-users’ that are typically monitored and seem to have the loudest voice. Google is willing to pay these regular Joes throughout the monitoring process as well, albeit via relatively meager Amazon gift cards.
What’s the catch? Well, once you opt in as a panelist, your every click around the vast interwebs will be captured by a browser extension and sent back to the Google mothership, to help them better understand how everyday folks use the web.
If you’re not a conspiracy theorist, or worried about being a part of a broad cross-section (and you’re at least 13 years old), you could have signed up to be a panelist through the Screenwise website. However, at the time of writing, there has been an overwhelming interest for this program and Google is urging those interested to “please come back later for more details”. If you got in early or the program opens back up, Google plans to reward panelists with a $5 Amazon gift card for the first month of tracking and another $5 gift card for every three months thereafter.
To take it a step further, of the folks that have already signed up, a handful have been approached to install a small black box to their home modem called a Screenwise Data Collector (SDC). Having an SDC box in your home will track your entire home network usage, no matter the time of day, chosen browser, or device you surf on. While more intrusive, the SDC program does award participants $20 for every month they participate and an initial $100 for starting the program.
So how do you feel about every keystroke, click, hover, or late-night Amazon impulse being tracked and recorded to provide the common user a better experience on the internet?