I was reading over a 1997 article in the Economists about the current state of what was still being called Electronic Commerce and I was struck by how simple its goals were:
And since a shopper’s every step through a Web site can be traced, an online merchant can quickly put together a clearer picture of each shopper’s interests and preferences than an army of survey-takers in a department store.
That’s it. Take a shopper’s interests and see if you can show them some other stuff they might like. Not exactly the follow-them-around-the-web-and-aggregate-their-preferences-with-millions-of-others-to-manipulate-purchasing-decisions-and-robotize-personal-interactions mentality we have floating around these days.