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When I heard that Backchannel would be moving to Wired while Google’s Contributor service (“buy an ad removal pass for the web”) was not only rolling out, but already deployed by some publishers (e.g. by Business Insider UK)—and while Wired (with the rest of Condé Nast) was still mistaking tracking protection for ad blocking (and hitting readers with the same lame interruptive shakedown popover I wrote about over a year ago)— I copied and pasted this section of the Daily Tab into Medium and expanded it into a piece titled How To Plug the Publishing Revenue Drain. I also wanted to get it up in advance of the Gillmor Gang webcast/podcast I’d be on that afternoon.

The (not so great) state of UK print advertising in 4 charts (Lucinda Southern @Lucy28Southern in DigiDay) Here they are:


Publishers can reverse that. Here’s how:

  1. Follow their customers’ lead. That means they should—
  2. Fire adtech (tracking-based advertising), which is full of fraud and malware, clogs data pipes, spies on people (which will soon be illegal in the EU thanks to the GDPR), and carries enormous operational and cognitive overhead for everybody. This will—
  3. Save journalism from drowning in a sea of content. (The problem with content is that it’s not editorial. It’s eyeball bait.) To do this publishers should—
  4. Agree to readers’ terms and conditions. These will live at Customer Commons (much as individuals’ copyright terms live at Creative Commons) and can be expressed in one line of code in the reader’s browser. The first and simplest term is called #NoStalking and says “just give me ads not based on tracking me.” These ads—simple brand ads—are far more valuable, and brand-supporting, than anything adtech has ever done, or ever can do. They also sponsor the publisher, which adtech also can’t do, because its actual business is chasing eyeballs. With #NoStalking, publishers will—
  5. Get cleaner, better and more supportive sponsorship from advertisers than they ever got from adtech. Agreeing not to stalk readers will also pave a way off the cattle ranches of Facebook and Google while also getting out of adtech’s bubble before it bursts. It will also respect The Castle Doctrine—for everybody involved, including readers, publishers, advertisers and intermediaries.

Bonus link: After Peak Marketing. And everything by Bob Hoffman (@adcontrarian), Don Marti (@dmarti), Augustine Fou, aka Ad Fraud Researcher (@acfou), WhiteOps (@WhiteOps), Dave Carroll (@profcarroll) and @MikkoKotila.

#Advertising vs. #Adtech

As Apple and Google take aim at ads, publishers tremble (Lucia Moses @lmoses in DigiDay)

De-blurring Lines Between ‘Ad Tech’ and Advertising (Daniel Meehan @MeehanDaniel in Martech Series). I’m kindly sourced: “…Doc Searls dug into what on earth brands are doing — and have been doing for years. He’s just as confused by this shift of advertisers effectively offloading their jobs to algorithms. Searls also calls for an end to ad tech, in favor of a return to “traditional” advertising approaches. The state of ad tech’s been killing media, too. And he wants to save it before we venture too far.”

Also by Daniel, this time in Martech TodayStop Calling ‘Ad Tech’ Advertising. Bonus link: Separating Advertising’s Wheat and Chaff.

Not listening to either Daniel or me:


Saturn is amazing. (Time)

Introducing FilterBubbler: A WebExtension built using React/Redux. Based on this idea by @dmarti. (Ean Schuessler in Mozilla Hacks) “The idea was to turn the tables on the kinds of sophisticated analysis that advertisers do with the everyday browsing activities we take for granted.”




amsterdam-streetImagine you’re on a busy city street where everybody who disagrees with you disappears.

We have that city now. It’s called media—especially the social kind.

You can see how this works on Wall Street Journal‘s Blue Feed, Red Feed page. Here’s a screen shot of the feed for “Hillary Clinton” (one among eight polarized topics):


Both invisible to the other.

We didn’t have that in the old print and broadcast worlds, and still don’t, where they persist. (For example, on news stands, or when you hit SCAN on a car radio.)

But we have it in digital media.

Here’s another difference: a lot of the stuff that gets shared is outright fake. There’s a lot of concern about that right now:


Why? Well, there’s a business in it. More eyeballs, more advertising, more money, for more eyeballs for more advertising. And so on.

Those ads are aimed by tracking beacons planted in your phones and browsers, feeding data about your interests, likes and dislikes to robot brains that work as hard as they can to know you and keep feeding you more stuff that stokes your prejudices. Fake or not, what you’ll see is stuff you are likely to share with others who do the same. This business that pays for this is called “adtech,” also known as “interest based” or “interactive” advertising. But those are euphemisms. Its science is all about stalking. They can plausibly deny it’s personal. But it is.

The “social” idea is “markets as conversations” (a personal nightmare for me, gotta say). The business idea is to drag as many eyeballs as possible across ads that are aimed by the same kinds of creepy systems. The latter funds the former.

Rather than unpack that, I’ll leave that up to the rest of ya’ll, with a few links:


I want all the help I can get unpacking this, because I’m writing about it in a longer form than I’m indulging in here. Thanks.


Tags: , , ,

After accumulating more than a thousand tabs (in OneTab) over the last few months, I whittled the collection down to a couple hundred, which I’ll post at a rate of a couple dozen or so at a time.

I’ll start by highlighting two new posts in Stephen Lewis’ excellent Bubkes.Org:

And then leave the rest un-sorted, since I need to sleep and get on a plane early tomorrow. If I get a chance, I’ll sort them later. If not, enjoy anyway:

Why Espressos in America are not Good? — Medium

Re NPR and podcasting

Entefy | Redefining Digital Interaction

Love your response Doc! — Medium

Something I said


How to block the companies tracking you on Facebook – Tech Insider

It’s a battle for internet freedom – TOI Blogs

Free Basics protects net neutrality – TOI Blogs

Scientists have uncovered exactly what makes a photo memorable – The Washington Post

Deep-learning algorithm predicts photos’ memorability at “near-human” levels | MIT News

We’re in a brave, new post open source world — Medium

What if data was established as a legal asset for everyone? * Why Hernando De Soto Is Relevant to the Biggest Issue Facing Us Today

What America’s top technologist has to say about online harassment – The Washington Post

P.R. Wild Pitches: Spring Edition 03/21/2016

What we’re doing to the Earth has no parallel in 66 million years, scientists say – The Washington Post

The powerful woman behind a news site about refugees

The information age traffics in speed. To adapt to it wisely, we must slow down | Aeon Videos

Personal APIs Are Not Just A Local Destination, They Are A Journey

Why pushing will get you slaughtered in advertising; and pull is the future. — Medium

Carbon Emissions Haven’t Been This High Since Dinosaurs Went Extinct

Girl Teaches Herself Dubstep From YouTube Videos | POPSUGAR Moms

What if we don’ need advertising at all? |

Startup uses ultrasound chirps to covertly link and track all your devices / Boing Boing

digitando – simplify your online shopping

What if data was established as a legal asset for everyone? * Why Hernando De Soto Is Relevant to the Biggest Issue Facing Us Today

Share of Ear: 18-24s Cross the Threshold — The Infinite Dial

Julie Meyer: What If Data Was Established As A Legal Asset For Everyone? | Influencers Insights

New Online Tool Shows You What The Heck Privacy Policies Actually Say – Consumerist

Nielsen Finds Little Demand For Ads In Video-On-Demand, Apathy Growing 03/17/2016

Now Advertisers Can Watch You Watch TV – Fortune

How Marketers Use Big Data To Prey On The Poor – Business Insider

Continuing the Conversation About Encryption and Apple: A New Video From Mozilla — Encryption Matters — Medium

Enders Analysis ad blocker study finds ads take up 79% of mobile data transfer – Business Insider

Privacy and the New Math — Medium

Apple Opens Mobile News App to Publishers in Bid for Readers | Media – AdAge

Databite No. 46: Malavika Jayaram || Data & Society

Going Beyond Data-Driven Marketing To True Intent-Driven Campaigns 03/15/2016

You can now Google your home to see if you should go solar

Conversational commerce — Chris Messina — Medium

iRespond | No matter where, iRespond

The Long March to Fiber Will Take Many Roads…. — Medium

Rebooting Work: Redefining the digital economy | Douglas Rushkoff | LinkedIn

About This Book — Leadership in the Age of Rage — Medium

You Didn’ Notice It, But Google Fiber Just Began the Golden Age of High Speed Internet Access — Backchannel — Medium

The Internet of Things is going to need an Internet of Me — The Internet of Me — Medium

68% of U.S. smartphone owners listen to streaming music daily

Mobile App Security and Encryption Forum

Epic Country-Level A/B Test Proves Open Is Better Than Closed — Backchannel — Medium

The One-Two-Three Sucker Punch That Is Killing Digital Media 03/07/2016

Marketing to Humans In the Digital Age – Brand Marketers Wake Up! | Gary Milner | LinkedIn

Friday Linklings

Okay, today I’m going to try outlining the links I piled up before 8:45am this morning. (#VRM request to @Wordpress: put an outliner in the composing window, or whatever you call the space where I’m writing this. Also, quit putting slashes through the @ when @-handles are copied and pasted in Visual mode from @Twitter. Example: . Thanks.)




Tech-ish stuff:

Direct response marketing, camouflaged to look like brand advertising:

  • This is the Digital Advertising Alliance’s program program for giving you a way to opt out, separately, from the many different advertising systems behind “interest-based” (a euphemism for tracking-based) ads, separately for every ad. Which, if you’re not doing the simple thing and running an ad or tracking blocker, could soak up your whole day, every day. Background from MediaPost: Digital Advertising Alliance Launches Opt-Out App 02/26/2015, and Ad Industry Launches Campaign Promoting AdChoices Icon 03/10/2016.
  • Could Bitcoin Solve the Problem of Ad-Blocking? Possibly, but please quit calling ad blocking a problem. Ad blocking is a clear signal from the market to marketing. It says three things: 1) You made the mistake of ignoring and pissing on Do Not Track when we kindly offered it as an olive branch that didn’t block ads at all; 2) You’re now tracking us more than ever and spamming us with awful advertising as well; 3) We’re doing something about it by protecting our own browsers from your intrusions and your crap, which isn’t “theft” because these are our own fucking browsers and our own fucking personal spaces on the Web, and we are entirely within our rights as sovereign human beings to decide what we let in and what we don’t.
  • New Anti-AD App will create total chaos? | Ronald Voorn MSc | LinkedIn, which is another message from the market to a industry that isn’t listening.


In case you can’t get enough already:

I’d say more, but it’s torture to reorganize (much less outline under topical headings) and annotate this stuff in WordPress’ composing window (or whatever you call it).

American Demagogue – The New Yorker. Good one by David Remnick. No news, though.
Millions of ordinary Americans support Donald Trump. Here’s why | Thomas Frank | Opinion | The Guardian. Another.
Lakoff on Trump as Repub catnip. Dave nails it. He also makes another good point: that somebody needs to translate George’s take on Trump to the accessible from the academic. I’ll try, but after the 18th. I’m too busy until then.
What Today’s Republicans Don’t Get About Reagan – The New York Times. He was nowhere near today’s GOP orthodoxy or attitude. He also had a sense of humor.
Emily Bell’s latest
Why no UI standards for the web?
Who is That Man Behind the Curtain? It Certainly Isn’t a Shareholder (or a Voter)… | Strong Views Lightly Held
Peasants, Pitchforks & Torches. Or Why Bank Stocks are Tanking. | Strong Views Lightly Held
DSpace@MIT: Keys Under Doormats: Mandating insecurity by requiring government access to all data and communications
(Here is an excerpt from the book I am working on. Enjoy!) — Wild World of Wireless — Medium
Taxman pops up on online ads | Business Line
Terms of engagement — latest Marketoonist | Marketing Week
Facebook is eating the world – Columbia Journalism Review
How Shyp Is Shaking Up Shipping | Fast Company | Business + Innovation
God Save The Queen – And Proceed With Caution While Backing Up 02/23/2016
The Genomic Ancient DNA Revolution |

This continues my pre-Spring housecleaning of remembered tabs. #1 is here.

The spork, the pressure cooker, and the back burner … | deadpenguinsociety. Great collection of links, including “Second order Doc Searls effects.”
VRM — the flipside of CRM breaks out (part 1) — diginomica
VRM — the flipside of CRM breaks out (part 2) — diginomica
​The mainframe lives on in IBM’s LinuxONE | ZDNet
My Explorations of Blockchain Technology, One Year In | Phil Gomes | LinkedIn
The Genomic Ancient DNA Revolution |
Ad Blockers Are Making Money Off Ads (And Tracking, Too) | WIRED
Wired Is Launching an Ad-Free Website to Appease Ad Blockers – Bloomberg Business
Media companies worried as ad blocking goes mobile –
Heavyweight – The New Yorker
Bitcoin’s nightmare scenario has come to pass | The Verge
The challenges of using blockchain technology –
The Financial System is Unstable !!! | The Connectivist
Technoethics and The Future of Work — Medium
The Onlife Manifesto – Being Human in a Hyperconnected Era | Luciano Floridi – Creating an Equitable Tech Ecosystem in Oakland — Medium
European Carrier Blocks Ads at Network Level | Digital – AdAge
Yahoo Hires Advisers, Forms Committee to Explore Options | Digital – AdAge – Bike helmets
IBM Buys Truven for $2.6 Billion, Adding to Trove of Patient Data – The New York Times
Mobile giant Three to block online advertising
Block an Ad Save an Artist? Google Still Supporting Ad Funded Piracy Time to Fight Back | The Trichordist
Here’s How Electric Cars Will Cause the Next Oil Crisis
My view on the current situation of Bitcoin and the Blockchain – Joi Ito’s Web
What’s Next in Computing? — Medium
If you’re alive in 30 years, chances are good you may also be alive in 1000 years (haakonsk)
A Robot That Has Fun at Telemarketers’ Expense – The New York Times
Google Unveils Neural Network with “Superhuman” Ability to Determine the Location of Almost Any Image
Could machines have become self-aware without our kn…
Build them and they will come | The Economist
Empowering the edge – Practical insights on a decentralized Internet of Things
Internet Identity Workshop
It seems nobody knows what’s going on with the economy | Andrew McAfee
Where’s The WD-40? 02/15/2016
From Platforms to Protocols | lightcoin
IVP Capital TMT Advisory – Telecom and Internet Strategic and Financial Advisory
Consciousness; the Next Competitive Advantage |
Filament – Large-scale Wireless Networks
Re-imagining Decentralized and Distributed
Apple, FBI, and the Burden of Forensic Methodology | Zdziarski’s Blog of Things

I use OneTab to move all my open tabs into a single list on a Web page. But then that gets unwieldy too. So now I’m moving a bunch over here. Although it’s a sloooow process inside WordPress’ composition window (or whatever this is called). So I’ll stop trying to edit this page and start working on the next one.

You Didn’t Notice It, But Google Fiber Just Began the Golden Age of High Speed Internet Access, by Susan Crawford in @Medium’s Backchannel. The optimistic view on Googles deal with Huntsville Alabama to do Google Fiber on the city’s own glass.
What Money Can Buy – The New Yorker
What is blockchain? – Business Insider. Has some useful visuals.
How the Blockchain Can Change the Music Industry (Part 2) — Cuepoint — Medium
From shoe repair to digital identity — putting online on the High Street — The Internet of Me — Medium
A New Manifesto for the Tech Industry — Medium
Is Google Fiber (Finally) Changing the Broadband Game ? | diffraction analysis
The growth rate of FTTH/B subscriptions should continue to increase at an annual average rate of 10% until 2019
Shoshana Zuboff: Secrets of Surveillance Capitalism. A learned, deep and depressing take on Where We Are Now. Fortunately we’re on the case.
Why Trump? by George Lakoff. George has studied the shit out of where each of our political preferences come from, and he puts it to work here.
The rise of American authoritarianism – Vox. Also about Trump.
Flyover Country on the App Store. A fabulous app I can’t wait to try on my next trip studying geology at 500 mph at 38,000 feet.
FCC Just Making A Bad Thing Worse | Doc Searls in Radio Ink. A comment they liked so much that they turned it into a stand-alone post. It’s about how all attempts to “revitalize” AM radio are worse than wasted in an age when digital live streams, on-demand and podcasts are the obvious future. Bonus link.
Adblock Plus and (a little) more: Acceptable Ads explained: monetization
The New York Times Might Ban Visitors Who Use Ad Blockers | Adweek
NY Times recommends ad blockers after CEO mulls ad-block ban | Ars Technica
The Ad Blocking Wars – The New York Times
Why People Block Ads
Discussion of a user/publisher optimized web advertising system – Google Docs
Data is a toxic asset, so why not throw it out? –
The Trichordist | Artists For An Ethical and Sustainable Internet #StopArtistExploitation
Personal data empowerment: Time for a fairer data deal – Citizens Advice
First, design for data sharing : Nature Biotechnology : Nature Publishing Group
Big Data, Trust and ‘You as The Product’ | A Customer & Brand Strategy Blog
Is Digital The Answer To AM Radio Interference? | Radio Ink
Publishers Asked to Pay Up for Distributed Platform Tracking | Digital – AdAge
The Trumping Of Adblock Plus 03/03/2016
The Onlife Manifesto – Being Human in a Hyperconnected Era | Luciano Floridi –
How Tech is Killing Off Independent Pizzerias | Aaron D. Allen | LinkedIn
Introducing the Futurist Hall of Fame | Thomas Frey | LinkedIn
Louis C.K.’s Warning About Donald Trump – The Atlantic
Giving Silos Their Due | Linux Journal
The Cluetrain Manifesto (1999) | Hacker News
Louis C.K. on Trump: "The guy is Hitler. And by that I mean we are being Germany in the 30s." – Vox
From shoe repair to digital identity — putting online on the High Street — The Internet of Me — Medium
Is technology making the world indecipherable? — Aeo…
Our Economy Is Obsessed with Efficiency and Terrible at Everything Else
The Forthcoming–Behavioral–Economics of Abundance
UK consumes far less than a decade ago – ‘peak stuff’ or something else? | Business | The Guardian
Is technology making the world indecipherable — Aeo…
The car century was a mistake. It’s time to move on. – The Washington Post
March 2016’s shocking global warming temperature record.
Republican Party in suicidal tailspin over Donald Trump’s unstoppable rise
Half of the Earth must be preserved for nature conse…
GBG: world leaders in identity data intelligence – GBG UK
When Fallacies Collide – The New York Times
The Case of the Woman With the Severed Child’s Head – The New York Times
IAB Creates Guide For Publishers To Combat Ad Blocking | Digital – AdAge

Bag ‘o tabs

I have accumulated a ridiculous sum of open tabs and closed ones collected in OneTab pages. Here’s a selection from just the latest collection, for your reading pleasure.

Stuff I’ve said


Tech, especially Internet

  • The Internet is a Global Public Resource, by Mark Surman in The Mozilla Blog. “We’re working to bolster the open Internet movement and take it mainstream.”
  • It’s not cyberspace any more, by danah boyd in Medium. Pushback against John Perry Barlow’s A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace. “We all imagined that the Internet would be the great equalizer, but it hasn’t panned out that way… There is a power shift underway and much of the tech sector is ill-equipped to understand its own actions and practices as part of the elite, the powerful. Worse, a collection of unicorns who see themselves as underdogs in a world where instability and inequality are rampant fail to realize that they have a moral responsibility. They fight as though they are insurgents while they operate as though they are kings.”
  • The Open Web and its Enemies, by Bill Thompson in Medium. “…we can use the tools of Web science to design and build a better and more resilient Web — but that we must move quickly or there will be nothing left to save.”
  • Beyond Mobile: Life After Smartphones ToC, by Shel Israel and Robert Scoble in Medium. “We spotlight four game-changing product categories that will come into play in 2016 and change the world as we know it over the next decade–faster in any case. They are: Augmented and Virtual Reality, Robots, Digital Genies and Autonomous Cars.”
  • When your heroes disappoint you. The disappointing hero in this case is Wolfgang Puck.
  • From platforms to protocols, by John Light. Important. Example: “Within the past decade or so, many open protocols have been invented that can be used to assemble platforms that can replace the corporate Death Stars.”
  • Ida — a Community Empowerment Platform, which “seeks to leverage technology to create new political and economic space for communities.”
  • The economics of the Internet, by the World Bank. Not bad as far as it goes, which is transactions. But the Net is about more than transactions. So is economics.
  • Scoble goes apeshit over Magic Leap. “I can’t talk about what I saw… is absolutely the biggest product introduction demo, the most interesting product demo, that I’ve ever had in my life.”
  • The Waze Effect: AI and the Public Commons, by John Battelle in Medium. “Should we just throw up our hands and “trust the tech?” No.


The People vs/+ Marketing and Advertising

  • 60% of all Mobile Banner Ad Clicks are Accidents. Wasting 60% of the $18 billion expected to be spent on mobile advertising this year. Not to mention (the business never does) the wasted time, energy and bandwidth costs to human beings, most of which would rather not have ads on their phones at all.
  • Buy More Pointless Stuff, says street-art-edited adverts at the Ealing tube stop.
  • Non-Marketing, by Andrew McLuhan in Medium, explains a bit about that last point above: “Fashion magazines and Superbowl Sunday aside, no one wants to see the ads. But in spaces like Snapchat, the users don’t just dislike ads and marketing, they really, really, dislike it. They resent it.”
  • MyData: A Nordic Model for human-centered personal data management and processing. “The core idea is that individuals should be in control of their own data. The MyData approach aims at strengthening digital human rights while opening new opportunities for businesses to develop innovative personal data based services built on mutual trust.” A long manifesto at the heart of what might become a movement or part of one. Bonus link: MyData 2016. In Helsinki, August 31-September 1. I’ll be there.
  • Wired Is Launching an Ad-Free Website to Appease Ad Blockers. “‘Wired plans to charge $3.99 for four weeks of ad-free access to its website. In many places where ads appear, the site will simply feature more articles,’ said Mark McClusky, the magazine’s head of product and business development. The portion of his readership that uses ad blockers are likely to be receptive to a discussion about their  responsibility to support the businesses they rely on for  information online… There are legitimate reasons that people use ad blockers, according to McClusky, like a desire to speed up web browsing or not wanting to be tracked online. But Wired has bills to pay. “’I think people are ready to have that conversation in a straightforward way,’” McClusky added.  But there is no conversation. If there were, it would look like this.
  • Samsung wants customers not to discuss personal information in front of smart TVs, in The Week. Headline says it all.
  • Smart, Connected Devices Open More Doors To Personal Networks, by Chuck Martin in MediaPost‘s IoT Daily. My response: “The only ‘transformative consumer experience’ that matters is one of personal independence and control of one’s own data and one’s own stuff. Approximately 0% of the jive around the Internet of Things today is about that, however. Mostly it’s about surveillance and marketing guesswork further intruding themselves into our lives, on vectors of connected stuff controlled by remote corporate and government intelligence agencies with zero interest in our privacy and absolute interest in spying on us. On our side there is no market demand for that. Until we get the true Internet of Things —… — we’ll just have more delusional BS.” Chuck’s gracious response: “Agree. Doc, that will have to be part of the “value” exchange. Great piece at the link, thanks for sharing. Still a ways to go to reach The Internet of Everything.”
  • Facebook and the new colonialism, by Adrienne LaFrance in The Atlantic.
  • India Doesn’t Need Facebook’s Free Mobile Internet Access. It Needs Nationwide Broadband, by Hasit Shah in Slate. “India has a can-do mentality that enables it to keep functioning and thriving, despite disparaging remarks from places like Silicon Valley. It’s not dissimilar to the spirit that has made the Internet itself a realm of possibility. Splendidly, the 2015 TRAI report ends with a quote from Machiavelli: “The one who adapts his policy to the times prospers, and likewise that the one whose policy clashes with the demands of the times does not.” India paid attention, Facebook did not.”
  • Is Adblock good for consumers? — asked in Quora. I just added an answer.
  • Samsung rolled out ad blocking on Android, Google said no, and then said “Yeah, okay.

Humanities, culture or something


Oldies but Goodies

reader-publisher-advertiser-safeadsTake a look at any ad, for anything, online.

Do you know whether or not it’s meant for you personally — meaning that you’ve been tracked somehow, and that tracking has been used to aim the ad at you? Chances are you don’t, and that’s a problem.

Sometimes the tracking is obvious, especially with retargeted ads. (Those are the shoes or hats or fishing poles that follow you to sites B, C and D after you looked at something like them at site A.) But most of the time it’s not.

Being followed around the Web is not among the things most of us want when we visit a website. Nor is it what we expect from most advertising.

Yet much of today’s advertising online comes with privacy-invading tracking files that slows page loads, drives up data use on our mobile devices and sometimes carries a bonus payload of malware.

So we block ads — in droves so large that ad blocking now comprises the largest boycott of anything in human history.

Reduced to a hashtag, what we say with our ad blockers is #NoAds. But even AdBlock Plus (the top ad blocker and the most popular* add-on overall), whitelists what its community calls “acceptable ads” by default.

So there is some market acceptance, if not demand, for some advertising. Specifically, Adblock Plus’s Acceptable Ads Manifesto whitelists ads that:

  1. are not annoying.
  2. do not disrupt or distort the page content we’re trying to read.
  3. are transparent with us about being an ad.
  4. are effective without shouting at us.
  5. are appropriate to the site that we are on.

Those are all fine, but none of them yet draws a line between what you, or anybody, knows is safe, and what isn’t.

In Separating advertising’s wheat and chaff, I draw that line between ads aimed at populations and ads aimed at you (because you’re being tracked). Here’s one way of illustrating the difference:


As Don Marti puts it in Targeted Advertising Considered Harmful, #SafeAds carry a signal that personally targeted ads do not. For one thing, they don’t carry the burden of requiring that every ad perform in some way, preferably with an action by you. He explains,

Richard E. Kihlstrom and Michael H. Riordan explained the signaling logic behind advertising in a 1984 paper.

When a firm signals by advertising, it demonstrates to consumers that its production costs and the demand for its product are such that advertising costs can be recovered. In order for advertising to be an effective signal, high-quality firms must be able to recover advertising costs while low-quality firms cannot.

Kevin Simler writes, in Ads Don’t Work that Way,

Knowing (or sensing) how much money a company has thrown down for an ad campaign helps consumers distinguish between big, stable companies and smaller, struggling ones, or between products with a lot of internal support (from their parent companies) and products without such support. And this, in turn, gives the consumer confidence that the product is likely to be around for a while and to be well-supported. This is critical for complex products like software, electronics, and cars, which require ongoing support and maintenance, as well as for anything that requires a big ecosystem (e.g. Xbox).

In my wheat & chaff post, I said,

Let’s fix the problem ourselves, by working with the browser and ad and tracking blockers to create simple means for labeling the wheat and restricting our advertising diet to it.

So this is my concrete suggestion: label every ad not aimed by tracking with the hashtag “#SafeAd.”

It shouldn’t be hard. The adtech industry has AdChoices, a complicated program that supposedly puts you “in control of your Internet experience with interest-based advertising—ads that are intended for you, based on what you do online.”

Credit where due: at least it shows that advertisers are willing to label their ads. A #SafeAd hashtag (and/or some simple code that speaks to ad and tracking blockers) would do the same thing, with less overhead, with a nice clear signal that users can appreciate.

#SafeAds is the only trail I know beyond the pure-prophylaxis #NoAds signal that ad blocking sends to publishers and advertisers today. So let’s blaze it.

* That’s for Firefox. I can’t find an equivalent list for other browsers. Help with that is welcome.

Here is the current perimeter of the Valley Fire, according to the USGS’ GEOMAC viewer:

ValleyFire 2015-09-13 at 3.10.24 PM_a

As you see, no places are identified there. One in particular, however, is of extremely special interest to me: Harbin Hot Springs. That’s where I met my wife and made more friends than I can count. It is, or was,  one of the most lovely places on Earth, inhabited and lovingly maintained by wonderful people.

I just matched up a section of the map above with Google Maps’ Earth view, and see that Harbin and its neighborhood are in the perimeter:

Screen Shot 2015-09-13 at 3.12.19 PM

After seeing this picture here, which looks northwest from downtown Middletown…

COyGRRHVAAEwC4w… I suspected the worse.

And now comes news that Harbin is “pretty much destroyed.” Damn.

Other places in the perimeter — or so it appears to me (please don’t take this as gospel):

  • Outer edges of Middletown and Hidden Valley Lake communities
  • Parts of Whispering Pines, Cobb, Holbergs and Glenbrook
  • Areas adjacent to McCreary Lake and Detert Reservoir

Watch here for official information about the fire.


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