This is, so I learned, Facebook's attempt to pile more and more information about you into their tall metal server boxes so that they can sell advertisers on their ability to target better than Google or Dick Cheney.
I think I'm beginning to understand all this.
But I find myself trying to translate everything into the real life I know.
I'm trying to imagine any area of existence in which people will trust just one brand or product with so much of their faith. (Oh, yes. Banks. Now how did that one turn out?) Especially when it comes to things techy.
There used to be a time when people thought that Sony made the best TVs. Perhaps they still do. But now we're all swamped with so many brands that seem OK to us that we choose on such dimensions as price, and familiarity of name and prettiness and, er, dimensions.
But I keep wondering whether we'll ever feel ready to give Facebook all of our selves.
Perhaps it seems possible right now. Perhaps there are so many of us giddily enjoying the social networking roundabout that we really don't know what we're doing.
Yet in real life, perhaps it's worth looking at people's ability to stick at anything. Relationships, for example. They don't last, do they? We trade them in like cars and bikes and apartments.
And then I think about the simplest things in people's houses- remote controls, for example.
You'd think by now that everyone would have just one remote that controls every technological machine in the house.
But they don't. Perhaps they reason that if that one remote goes wrong, then all the machines will be out of action. Perhaps they imagine that if they add more gadgets, then programming that one remote will prove cumbersome or even impossible.
Or perhaps they just don't trust the idea that one thing can ever be that much in control of your life.
So the world's coffee tables fill up with different remotes that control different parts of our enjoyment.
See, that's the thing that disturbs me about Facebook or Google or some new brand name (hey, how about Flurt? Or Blatant?) that is yet to be imagined being the portal of the masses.
There is something, well, vaguely communist about the whole idea.
And the masses, though they can dance together and love each other, have proved remarkably resistant to the concept of forced community.
As an aside, it still astonishes me to the point of marginal delirium that Facebook will not let you remove your profile. That is, I understand, the case.
If that isn't Soviet, then I am, indeed, Leonid Brezhnev's eyebrow cultivator.
Of course, it may well be that in the future we will simply become used to the fact that there is no secrecy and no privacy, facts that will cause a radical shift in our sense of self. It may be that we'll enjoy watching different brands compete over what they can do with the total information they have.
But, bloody hell, do you really think that people will just blindly follow a cascade of applications until they've committed themselves to one portal (a portal whose tentacles creep ever closer and squeeze ever tighter thanks to an army of 400,000 developers), with no recourse or return?
Do you really think that real people won't begin to wonder not only what Facebook and others are doing with the information, but whether they're using the information they've been given to obtain more information?
Or will people keep those four or five remotes lying around on the coffee table?
Can somebody, with beard or without, help me here? Somehow, this stuff is stifling my ability to network. Socially, I mean.