Quarter Life Crisis

The world according to Sven-S. Porst

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505 words on

The whole web is owned by Google these days. Not only will they shape reality for you, they also keep track of your steps on the web. And they own a big chunk of internet advertising. In a way that is good as theirs is the most tolerable advertising. But the sheer fact that those ads are everywhere and that it’s so easy to open your own account with them and have some ads yourself just changes the – or at least my – perception of those ads.

When seeing them you immediately start seeing the money involved rather than the presumably related information. You’ll know that clicking those ads will move money from the advertising company’s account into the site owner’s. When seeing ads for companies you know and support in that system you may start just Googling for their site instead of clicking the ad – as not to hurt them financially. And – the other way round – when seeing ads of some bastard company you may be extra keen to check out how broken their web site is and take a few cents out of their pockets.

Those are always just small amounts we are talking about but somehow it takes the presumed innocence out of the web. Knowing that linking to people is seen as a support for their site and an indication of their relevance may put you off creating those links to not draw unnecessary attention to those people. But even the ‘innocent’ click may have lost its innocence by now.

I assume/hope I’m exaggerating those issues here. And of course it remains a free web where you are free to click everywhere (as long as you are in a reasonably free part of the world), but it’s still a bit strange. The only thing appeasing me would be the knowledge that while schemes like AdSense sometimes manage to generate surprisingly accurate results, they still seem to be just a bunch of dumb statistics without any sense (haha) for the bigger picture…

Because if they had any sense, I wouldn’t get ads titled ‘PowerPoint to Flash’ – i.e. ads that include two of the computer developments I despise most handily joined together just for mentioning the word ‘presentation’

Ad block with ads for 'PowerPoint Optimizer' and 'PowerPoint to Flash'

And similarly they might be able to figure that neither me nor my readers (I hope…) will appreciate occasional advertising links to site selling ‘Nazi DVDs’ just because the word ‘nazi’ occurred in a post. Finally, I was amused that Google didn’t list that many results in a search for the ‘Emergency Baptizing Kit’ (that Flanders quickly gets out to administer to Lisa and Bart in a classic episode of the Simpsons) but they did have a ‘sponsored link’ by the fabulous ‘Dept of Homeland Security’. I hope my American friends are delighted to see their tax money at work in such a wonderful context. [Why the hell does that particularly sleazy and rich government department spend money on ads at all? Aren’t they intruding in people’s lives everywhere else already?]

Google search for 'Emergency Baptizing Kit'

October 30, 2006, 0:19

Tagged as software.


Comment by Dave2: User icon

Are you kidding? That’s the best use of my tax dollars I’ve seen in quite a while! :-)

October 30, 2006, 0:39

Comment by d.w.: User icon

DHS has more money than they know what to do with. One of the, er, interesting things I learned while working under gov’t contract many years ago is that you’ll see all sorts of absurd spending every Sept./Oct. as the federal fiscal year ends Sept. 30 and any unspent money an agency has left “turns into a pumpkin” if they haven’t spent it yet. So all sorts of absurd things get bought in the fall. It’s tremendously wasteful.

October 31, 2006, 3:32

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