My Internet Isn’t An Ad Platform

I’m a big fan of the internet. It is the single most disruptive technology in the history of mankind because it has the ability to disrupt so much of the old ways we did things.

I’m a huge fan of Social Media, because it fully leverages the internet of things to enable human connections without regard for location.

I’m a huge fan of Google, because the idea that we can index and make “findable” the entire repository of human knowledge is transformative.

What I’m not a fan of is the “Ad-Unit”. I’m not a fan of the ad supported business. I’m not a fan of the idea that the only way to monetize the internet of things is by plastering it with adverts.

I know this is impolitic, but is this really the best we can do? Is the internt nothing more than an advertising platform?

I’m not offended that Facebook apps are selling my data to advertisers – I’m offended that we’ve reached a point where it is taken for granted that those tactics are effective. I’m offended that Michael Arrington would suggest on TechCrunch that the real point is:

If you do stuff online, people are tracking it and putting it into a database and trying to sell you stuff based on that. There’s not much you can do about it except not be online. And it’s not all that bad, really, to get ads for diapers when you’re having a baby, or ads for cars when you are looking to buy a car. Life will go on.

As if I’m too stupid to find diapers or a damn car without the “help” of a bunch of adverts.

But this is how things work now. You build a service people want to use, and then you help marketers beat your (stupid) users about the head neck and shoulders with adverts for adult diapers, erection pills and soap that is guaranteed to get you laid. You aren’t users, they aren’t solving your problem. You are a demographic with disposable income, a short attention span and a willingness to click.

The internet of things is becoming the sole domain of two things:

  • Content designed to attract as much attention as possible (without regard for merit).
  • Services and tools to plaster adverts all over above content.

Two years ago we all woke up and realized that the best minds of our generation were being used to create highly lucrative but utterly meaningless financial schemes. These Quants weren’t adding value to our economy, they were merely finding creative ways to extract as much value as possible from our economy.

I have to wonder if the new Quants aren’t the internet of things wunderkinds who – in exchange for our attention – are extracting as much value from the internet as quickly as they can. Adding little while creating fortunes.

I find this completely unacceptable. My internet of things is about diversity, frictionless distribution of knowledge, and the ability to negate the tyranny of geography. If you are interested in that internet of things – and creating real value without generating a dime in advertising revenue… let me know, those are projects, non-profits and startups I’d love to be involved in.

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