As the internet has developed over the years, the ability for users to customize their experience has become more and more possible. Google, Facebook, and other major players in today’s world of digital media continue to add features that allow users to better pick and choose what they are doing, who they interact with, and the speed at which they are doing it. With that, I pose the following questions: Is there any functionality of the internet today that isn’t customizable? And isn’t the entire internet just a system of mass customization anyway?
The moment that you log onto your browser (the browser of your choice by the way), you are sent to a home page that you have chosen. Through that browser, you can customize your experience with bookmarks and favorites, only viewing websites that you so choose to view. And even those websites are entirely customizable these days; you choose your favorite teams on ESPN, you choose who your friends are on Facebook and what type of access they have to your page, and you even make decisions off of the reviews of your peers with sites like Yelp or TripAdvisor. Essentially every single move that you make on the internet is customizable in some way.
And the thing about mass customization is that it benefits more than just the users. Heck, I’d be willing to bet that the customization of the internet is all driven behind the idea of making money anyway (what isn’t these days?). Because Google and Facebook, for example, allow for such a high level of user customization, it also allows them to pinpoint any advertising to target their users based on preferences and actions — which means the aforementioned power companies can make more money from advertisers that pay to do so. As someone who sees this first hand working in marketing, I can attest that it is extremely powerful and useful, despite the annoyance that many users find it to be at times.
I’d almost say that mass customization on the internet is both a gift and a curse from a user’s perspective, but it is undoubtedly a benefit to everyone.