What happens in Vegas

…could end up anywhere.

On vacation last week in Sin City, I got an offer someone thought I couldn’t refuse, and was put under surveillance in an interestingly creepy way.

For custom service, you have to pay — in money, attention, or personal data. The Wynn hotel-casino (which is gorgeous, but has such a useless website that I’m not linking it) desperately wanted me to sign up for its Red Card loyalty club. Here’s the deal: If I sign up for the card by showing them a valid government ID and giving them my full name, Social Security Number, date of birth, mailing address, email address, and cell phone number, they will give me a buffet meal for free. This is all listed right on the rather large offer card, and there’s nothing about privacy policies on there either. The Wynn buffet is a treat, but I’d rather give them mere dollars for that, thanks. (One person in my traveling party — a frequent gambler, something I’m not — did go for the deal.)

And if you want to be a bit of a coquette in the twenty-first century, apparently you have to be put under close and possibly recorded observation without any notice given or consent obtained whatsoever. Hey, I’ve watched CSI — I realize that in Las Vegas you aren’t safe from security cameras anywhere except the bathrooms. But then I sat down at the iBar in the Rio and started futzing around with the Big-Ass T…uh, I mean the Microsoft Surface. At first I didn’t realize other private citizens could observe me closely from their B.A.T.’s elsewhere in the bar. It’s supposed to be for flirting:

Flirt Vegas style by adding a hip ultra-lounge vibe to the flirting experience. This application allows guests to create an exciting new way to chat and meet people from one Surface to another. Strategically placed video cameras at each Surface add even more energy to the action, allowing guests to interact with old friends, flirt with new acquaintances, and take and send photos across the lounge.

Luckily, this also meant I could observe the action at other B.A.T.’s myself, which was useful when I couldn’t figure out how to find the Virtual Earth app and caught the camera’s-eye view of the people at the next table using it. Well, honestly I could have just looked over to see that, but using the spy-eye gave me such a sense of power. :)

Eli and I did play a few games of virtual bowling, which was fun in a flashback-y sort of way. It reminded me of one of the bars my first band Sleeper played regularly in ’80-’81 — the long-lost 23rd Step in Kailua. They had a game table where you could sit across from someone and play Galaxian. It was just offstage next to my keyboard setup, and I would lunge for it whenever we finished a set, about the time the other band members were lunging for the next-door 7-Eleven if it was before midnight and beer could still be legally bought. Ah, good times.

(In case anyone else who loves those old games goes to Vegas, check out the dim corners of the Gameworks on the south Strip, where you’ll find Space Invaders, Centipede, and — yes — Moon Patrol.)

Um. And with that, I think I’ve proven once again that I’m the queen of TMI (why does that acronym spring to mind every time I bring up video games here?).

Exit question: Are privacy policies positively pointless for someone who just spews random data about themselves on a public website anyway?

7 Comments to “What happens in Vegas”

  1. John Cowan 4 November 2008 at 8:04 am #

    As I’ve said before, the only way to keep your privacy while doing business with other people is to do it all in person, pay cash, and wear heavy black clothes, work gloves, and a ski mask at all times. But then other people may well be excused if they refuse to do business with you. (And anyway, you still drop DNA wherever you go.)

  2. Eve 4 November 2008 at 8:27 am #

    Yep, you’re right, and don’t forget that paper currency generally has individual serial numbers!

  3. Darren 4 November 2008 at 2:07 pm #

    Never TMI about video games! Great tip on GameWorks. They also have a pub/lounge there that is adults only (and so is often empty and very comfortable).

  4. orcmid 4 November 2008 at 4:22 pm #

    Well, however far over you go on the TMI meter, it’s your TMI meter, not someone else deciding what they can know about you and what they can do with that.

    That seems like a world of difference to me. Now, with being data-mined for all of our TMI spoutings, I am reminded of an old saying about what such invasive and humorless folks can do with themselves.

  5. Eve 4 November 2008 at 8:49 pm #

    Dennis, indeed you’re right, there’s a world of difference. But it’s awfully hard to enforce privacy restrictions, or to “sell” privacy as a service feature, when people are willing to blab any old thing without demanding something in return. As far as vendors are concerned, why buy the cow if you’re getting the milk for free?

    I had been calling this the “self-revelation imperative” but maybe a better name — more alliterative, anyway — is the “TMI tendency”. :)

    We do need practical systems to let us share data in finer granularity — that is, both the “data size” and the “recipient list” need to be more finely controllable. I think, though, that we’ll have more success selling the benefits of truly selective sharing than the benefits of keeping our data out of others’ hands.

  6. Paul C. Bryan 5 November 2008 at 1:10 am #

    Queen of too-much-infromation? Excuse me, I beg to differ. You are the queen of Venn diagrams. Venn diagrams reduce too-much-infromation into bite-sized, beautifully disguised set theory graphical representations.

  7. Jeff Barr 18 December 2008 at 8:05 pm #

    Galaxian, now that brings back memories!