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Choosing Cookie Clips

Earlier today, I served as a judge in the "Cookie Crumbles" contest. This wasn't about food, but the Internet kind of cookie -- the little text files that Web sites and Web advertisers save to your computer so the site can remember you upon your return.

In this contest, the industry group and Harvard University's Berkman Center for Internet and Society challenged YouTube video authors to make a 2-minute video explaining what cookies do and what you might want to do about it.

Twenty-four people put together and uploaded short clips. Of them, five made the cut as finalists and awaited a vote from my fellow judges and I, as well as a roomful of people attending the Federal Trade Commission's "Ehavioral Advertising: Tracking, Targeting, and Technology" workshop near Capitol Hill:

clay10mograf's "Cookies":

madamelevy's "What's a Cookie With Mari?":

JSchaack's "Got Cookies?":

AlaskaRobotics' "What is a Cookie?":

munkeefunkee's "Cookies 101":

My fellow judges included Esther Dyson of EDventure, who didn't vote; Jeff Chester executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy; Alissa Cooper, policy analyst with the Center for Democracy and Technology; Michael Zaneis, vice president of public policy, Interactive Advertising Bureau; Lorrie Faith Cranor, associate professor, Carnegie Mellon University; and Tikva Morowati, described as a "designer, researcher, artist and community builder."

We discussed the technology and policy of cookies for about 30 minutes after watching each clip, then we voted.

This may show how out of touch I am: I thought the fourth entry, "What Is a Cookie?," offered the best summary of what these things are, what they aren't and what you should reasonably do about them (although the first and fifth videos were also pretty good). The audience, however, picked the third entry, "Got Cookies?" The judges' vote -- the only one that counted for the $5,000 grand prize -- was for the first, "Cookies."

Now it's your turn to vote: Which of these five videos do you like most?

By Rob Pegoraro  |  November 2, 2007; 3:30 PM ET
Categories:  The Web  
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1 and 3 are the best. 1 beats out 3 for technical details. But 3 has the best presentation.

Posted by: Bart | November 2, 2007 4:45 PM | Report abuse

I liked #1; not as clever as 3 or 5, but clear, and ultimately more watchable.

Posted by: Tony | November 2, 2007 5:22 PM | Report abuse

An interesting exercise in teaching. #3 wins hands down for engagement and clarity of information. Their biggest problem was running out of time so that they couldn't do as good a job with the cleanup information. #1 did have the most information, but it was so dry and boring that it was hard to watch. With 15 years of teaching experience, I can tell you that no one will get anything (or watch all the way through) #1, but #3 might encourage people to look deeper. #5's Post-its was a good concept but didn't go far enough. Your pick was right on.

Posted by: Judith | November 2, 2007 5:39 PM | Report abuse

I agree 1 and 3 are the best, with 1 having the best technical information. Rob, you're not out of touch 4 was OK, but I thought it was a little too laid back, probably a good refresher for anybody who already has a pretty good understanding of cookies but not that good for somebody who doesn't.

Posted by: Frank S. | November 2, 2007 5:40 PM | Report abuse

"from my fellow judges and I"

Remember prepositional phrases always use the objective case. So, should be "and me." Common error nowadays.

Posted by: Rosie Win | November 2, 2007 8:33 PM | Report abuse

"from my fellow judges and" ME!!!

Where are the editors at the Post?

Posted by: Jeff Myers | November 3, 2007 1:51 PM | Report abuse

I was surprised how few cookies I had on my machine when I went to look. I thought it would be nice if NoScript extension for Firefox could allow cookies based on the "trusted" sites there. But now I'm wondering if that's not in fact true. Can a site set a cookie without Javascript? If not, then NoScript effectively denies cookies for all but trusted sites, which would be worth knowing about, even if javascript was the primary method of setting cookies.

Posted by: Josef | November 3, 2007 4:42 PM | Report abuse

Josef -

NoScript doesn't control cookies. You want a Firefox extension (add-on) called "Cookie Safe". It works a lot like NoScript, except for cookies. One important difference: By default, cookies are *enabled* globally in CookieSafe (in NoScript, javascript is disabled globally by default), so first thing you want to do after installing is choose "Deny cookies globally", then enable cookies one-by-one as needed, just like you do with NoScript for javascript.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 5, 2007 3:27 PM | Report abuse

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