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Amazon Hacks by Paul Bausch

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Understand Identity at Amazon

Amazon user accounts provide a consistent, personalized experience. Understanding how, when, and why you should log in and out of your Amazon account will help you control that experience.

The general perception of identity on the Web was summed up well in a famous cartoon from the New Yorker: a dog in front of a computer turns to another dog and says, “On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog.” If every web request were completely anonymous, though, features like 1-Click buying, personalized recommendations, or wish lists would be impossible. At the very least, personalized web applications like Amazon need to know you’re the same dog each time you visit.

Create an Account

Like most web applications, Amazon’s answer to the Web’s inherent anonymity is user accounts. By identifying yourself with an email address and password, Amazon is able to save your information for subsequent visits.

Exactly what information does Amazon collect, save, and associate with your account? Anything you explicitly type into a form will be saved. That includes your name, billing and shipping information, items you purchase, reviews you add, wish list items, and items you’ve seen. This may sound like an Orwellian disaster waiting to happen, but in exchange for this information, Amazon provides a unique, customized buying experience. If you were to stop by your corner store on a regular basis, the person behind the counter would eventually get to know your tastes and offer ...

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