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The Information Superhighway Is Now The Advertising Superhighway

I have absolutely no problem with people who want to spend their lives amassing wads and wads of money. I personally find it a silly way to live a life, since wealth can’t follow one into the otherworld, but if that’s what trips a person’s trigger, he or she should go ahead and become as rich as possible.

The trouble is, in the last few decades, the wannabe rich folks have decided the whole planet should be nothing but a platform for making money, and they’ve somehow convinced a majority of us that this is sensible. So now we have baseball and football stadiums, once named named after teams or the cities where theses teams played, named after respected corporate entities such as Enron and Bear Stearns. Heck, I expect that soon the Metropolitan Opera House will be known as Sony Music Theater and Lincoln Center will be renamed Lincoln Financial Group Center.

As the money accumulators have amassed more and more wads of money, they’ve also decided that the only rules we need on this planet are rules designed to make it easier and easier for those who already have wads and wads of money to rake in more wads.

They are like cockroaches. Worse, they are like bedbugs. They can hide anywhere. There is not a nook or cranny where they cannot thrive. And they are devious, disseminating their propaganda through organizations with misleading names like The-Scientific-Study-of-What-Americans-Need-Foundation, which concludes we need nothing so much as we need more commerce.

So I was not very surprised the other day when I ran across an article on PCWorld in which Daniel Castro, senior analyst at the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF), a think tank in Washington, DC, says we’ve got it all wrong with our concerns about privacy on the Internet. What we really need, it appears, is less privacy, not more, so that 21st century ad men can amass wads and wads of money on clicks. Without highly targeted advertising, how will we ever pay for the Internet? he asks.

Lest you think I’m joking, let me quote what he says about suggestions by the FTC that we may need to come up with some kind of “do not track” list for folks who’d like to protect their privacy while surfing:

“With less-targeted advertising, some websites can’t deliver ads very well. It limits innovation by restricting what ISPs can do with customer data. That limits the market for online advertising and innovative business models. That ultimately hurts consumer choice.”

Wowie-zowie! Now I get it! We need to design the Internet solely for those who want to use it to rake in the big bucks. And obviously, advertising just won’t work unless it’s been highly targeted by watching our browsing habits. It’s going to do them no good whatsoever to show me an ad for food if I’m a person who doesn’t eat, or an ad for a Ford if I never leave my house, eh?

Of course, it would never do to target an ad campaign the old fashioned way like they do in print and over the airwaves – by the content. You wanna sell soap? I can tell you without tracking anybody, and I’m willing to bet dollars to donuts, that a site like FOSS Force probably isn’t going to reach a lot of folks obsessed with whether they should use Tide or Purex. However, if you’ve got a really hot desktop or server you want to sell, or maybe some new gee-whiz must-have software, we might be able to help you connect with some interested people here.

But this would be too, too easy an answer, especially when the whole future of the digital age depends on making sure that a businesses’ ads reach the right eyeballs and only the right eyeballs. But don’t take my word for it. Read what Dr. Larry Ponemon of the Ponemon Institute has to say:

“There’s a big difference between a do-not-call list and a do-not-track list. People understand that getting a call at dinnertime from a telemarketer is annoying. But marketing rules and funds the Internet. If you strip out marketing and advertising from the Internet, nothing would be left.”

To think how stupid I was, back in the last decade of the last century, when I thought the Internet would be about disseminating information, not about making billions and billions of dollars for corporations (who are people too, you know). Of course, I’m in good company. Think how stupid our founding fathers were, believing they were forging a nation where people could live freely and safely. How could they have been so dumb as to not know they were merely laying the foundation for Walmart, McDonalds and Apple.

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