Archive for September 2015

A Way to Peace in the Adblock War

What we want to block in the online world is the same thing, only here it’s called adtech.

Like junk mail, adtech —

  • wants to get personal,
  • is data-driven,
  • is based on as much tracking as possible,
  • wants to follow you around (thats called “retargeting”)
  • mistakes tolerance for approval,
  • clogs distribution pipes,
  • is mostly litter,
  • cheapens its environment, and
  • wastes time and space in our lives.

Worse, adtech is also a vector for malware and fraud.

Technically, adtech is a form of direct response marketing, which is descended  from the direct (aka junk) mail business, not from Madison Avenue.

The difference is critical, because what we really need to block is  adtech, not all of advertising.

The baby in the adblock bathwater is old-fashioned Madison Avenue advertising, which has paid for nearly all of periodical publishing and commercial broadcasting since their beginnings, and which we have tolerated all that time, and even liked and appreciated in many cases.

Here’s are other likable things about Madison Avenue advertising:

  • It isn’t personal.
  • It isn’t based on tracking you.
  • You know where it comes from.


The Many Ways I Avoid Ads

In any case, I made a list of the many ways I block ads in my life. If you think that blocking ads on websites is wrong, tell me how many of the following actions you take to avoid ads.

  • I turn off the volume when TV commercials are on
  • I go to the bathroom when TV commercials are on
  • I skip through commercials when watching recorded TV
  • I throw away junk mail without looking at it
  • I throw away inserts with magazines I subscribe to without looking at them
  • I throw away ad sections of newspapers when I buy them
  • I turn the pages of magazines and newspapers too quickly to assimilate ads
  • I don’t look at ads on the sides of busses
  • I ignore billboards with ads when driving
  • I avoid televised sports, because there are too many ads
  • I hang up on robo-calls
  • I avoid buying clothes with logos when possible
  • I ignore the ads on the back of supermarket receipts
  • I delete spam emails
  • I use a pop-up blocker with my web browsers
  • I use a tracker blocker (Ghostery) with my web browsers
  • I use an ad blocker with my web browsers
  • I use Safari’s Reader view to be able to read pages that are too cluttered

I remember when a one-hour TV show in the US was 52 minutes long; it left eight minutes for ads and station identification. Now, a one-hour show has 42 minutes of content, which means that 25% of the hour is commercials. Viewers adapted to this by recording shows and skipping ads, and the same is happening on the web.

I would happily embrace a micro-payment solution that would allow me to pay a few cents when I read an article on the web. But the current model of inundating readers with ads, and web pages hard to read, is simply wrong. Don’t blame readers for not wanting to put up with these problems.

iOS9 and Responsive Web Design


Lefsetz Letter » Blog Archive Ad-Blocking – Lefsetz Letter

We’ve all got to focus on giving people what they want. That’s internet 101. The consumer is in control. Win by serving them, not by corralling them to fit your own desires.

Not that business people always get it wrong. Look at Reed Hastings and Netflix. He knew that streaming was the answer, he dropped the price and provided instant access. There was huge public outcry from people who wanted to rent DVDs. Do you know anyone who rents DVDS anymore? Do you know anyone who has a DVD player? Discs are dead. Hastings knew this already, the public had to catch up, and when it did people were satisfied, Netflix is burgeoning.

And Apple has eliminated disc drives from computers. The same way Steve Jobs got rid of legacy ports almost twenty years ago. Remember the outcry? That this also-ran computer company was leaving old customers in the dust, forcing them to buy new product? Well, that was back before Apple became a juggernaut, it was a harbinger of what was to come.

Just like this is.

People are sick and tired of losing their privacy. They’re sick and tired of being tracked. There’s nothing as weird as seeing an ad for a product follow you around the web. Do you want to trust these people? Did you trust the Stasi?

The ad companies are no different from the record companies, wanting to hold on to an old model that benefits them but not the user. Meanwhile, wannabe techies side with them the way wannabe musicians side with legacy artists in desiring the old model, they feel they’ve lost their opportunity. But isn’t it funny that today it’s the labels who are on the cutting edge, pushing streaming services, and the acts are the ones behind. Winners take stock of a changed world and adjust accordingly. Keep your music off Spotify? Put it everywhere and get people to listen to it. The rewards come when people know who you are, they’ll give you tons of money if only you create a bond.

Source: Lefsetz Letter » Blog Archive Ad-Blocking – Lefsetz Letter

Creatives Ask: What Kind of Web Do We Want, Anyway?

“We’re nicer to our computers and phones than we are to other people on the Internet.”

Source: Creatives Ask: What Kind of Web Do We Want, Anyway?

Ads and trackers are out of control…

Publishers won’t solve this problem: they cannot consistently enforce standards of decency and security on the ad networks that they embed in their sites. Just as browsers added pop-up blockers to protect us from that abusive annoyance, new browser-level countermeasures are needed to protect us from today’s web abuses.

And we shouldn’t feel guilty about this. The “implied contract” theory that we’ve agreed to view ads in exchange for free content is void because we can’t review the terms first — as soon as we follow a link, our browsers load, execute, transfer, and track everything embedded by the publisher. Our data, battery life, time, and privacy are taken by a blank check with no recourse. It’s like ordering from a restaurant menu with no prices, then being forced to pay whatever the restaurant demands at the end of the meal.

If publishers want to offer free content funded by advertising, the burden is on them to choose ad content and methods that their readers will tolerate and respond to.

Source: Introducing Peace, my privacy-focused iOS 9 ad blocker –

HTTP is obsolete. It’s time for the distributed, permanent web

IPFS is a distributed file system that seeks to connect all computing devices with the same system of files. In some ways, this is similar to the original aims of the Web, but IPFS is actually more similar to a single bittorrent swarm exchanging git objects. IPFS could become a new major subsystem of the internet. If built right, it could complement or replace HTTP. It could complement or replace even more. It sounds crazy. It is crazy.

Source: HTTP is obsolete. It’s time for the distributed, permanent web