One of the first lectures in my first year entertained the difference between qualitative and quantitative methods in psychology.  We had three lovely, but definately qualitatively biased lecturers.  They spoke of the personal approach to psychology, and identifying individual differences, rather than group 'norms' - for they argues that norms did not exist across society, due to all the difference cultures and individual experiences.

However, our quantitative lecturers disagreed.  They liked to analyse and draw lovely graphs showing difference behavioural patterns.  Attach electrodes to heads to monitor electrical pulses in the brain, and quantify social experiments using hard statistics and probability algorithms.

Well, they're now approaching the end of their careers in this field, as Google and the 'database generation' take over.

There's so much information on the internet now, that we don't need to know whether someone is going to do something or not - we can actually see records of what they do.  Having the browsing habits of thousands, or millions of people is almost priceless data.  It's the stuff that quantititative psychologists can only dream of.  Any psychologist will tell you how valuable that data is to them.

Well, today Alexander Hanff - fighting for our freedom - heads to the House of Lords in order to prevent Phorm from getting their hands on our data; and to question why BT haven't yet been charged on any count for gross invasion of privacy in regards to their trials of the Phorm software last summer.

In order to understand what we're dealing with, I offer the following analogy to those less technically minded.

The internet is an exchange of bags, each containing a little bit of information.  Let's say you pass one bag a second from your machine across the internet to an 'internet server.'  It's very easy for someone to look into any of these bags - but mainly due to volume (but also due to simple logistics) people tend not to bother looking in your bags.  It's not to say they can't though.

Well, phorm contains software that looks through all your bags, and analyses them for 'key-words', from which they can then target adverts at you.  If you're communicating with someone, why do you want them looking through your bags - you don't!

When you deal with your bank, you'd put a padlock on the bags, that only they and you have the key to unlock.. so your online banking details are safe..r.  If you'd rather not have someone looking through all the information you exchange across the internet, charging you for the pleasure, and then holding more information on your browsing habits than you even do yourself.. say Yes to Phorm.  else do the sensible thing and "JUST SAY NO!"