Bits and Bytes: What the Heck are Cookies?
By Zak Wallace
Let's talk about cookies, and no, not the kind that you eat.
The cookies we are talking about are digital! Although it seems as though cookies have just recently started appearing, they have actually been around since 1994 and were invented by a man named Lou Montulli. There are several theories on the origin of the name cookie. Some believe it comes from the term “magic cookies” which are a part of a computer operating system developed in the 1960s. Others believe the name comes from the fairytale “Hansel and Gretel”, referencing the trail the children made in the forest by using cookie crumbs.
So, what exactly are cookies? A cookie is a tiny file with small pieces of data that helps your computer or smartphone connect to websites. The data is given a unique ID specific to you and your device and helps to provide you with a seamless internet experience. Cookies typically don’t contain any personal information or anything dangerous.
Here are three services cookies offer to make your internet life easier!
Cookies allow websites to recognize individual users and remember their login information and preferences. For instance, if you are on your local news website, cookies will remember if you prefer entertainment over economics and guide you in the right direction.
When viewing certain shopping items or specific sections of a website, cookies collect this data to help create targeted ads you may be interested in.
You can remove cookies to lessen the risk of privacy breaches and reset your browser tracking and personalization settings. However, cookies allow for a convenient user experience. If you’re shopping for instance, but haven’t signed into an account, the cookies help remember that you added all those Blossom hoodies to your shopping cart! When you sign into an account online, cookies help you stay signed in. Otherwise, you’d have to sign in every single time you went to a new page. Cookies make things faster and easier when navigating the digital world.
In conclusion, cookies (edible and digital) can be pretty sweet!