There's a saying/joke in post SU bloc countries that goes “Whatever a Russian does, they end up making the Kalashnikov gun”, or “Whatever a Russian does, they end up making the Kalashnikov gun and a Communist Party”.
I guess this is meant to say that one can't fool or hide one's "true nature".
This is what comes to mind when I'm reading yet another report of some company engaged in unfair competition, in cheating. Or whenever I'm seeing an ethical, honest, hard-working business go down.
I've been doing websites and promoting them for quite a while. And over the years I've seen the conditions for my work change in form, but not in essence. Years ago Google was this new little cute startup. Clean white page, straightforward, no ads. Won hearts and minds of people all over the world. Their moto once having been 'Don't be evil'. Ok, so they've cut into Microsoft's share, became a monopoly, and what do they do today? Sell the first few positions in their search results to highest bidder. People have to scroll down to see the actual search results under ad results.
And this is the company that preaches ethical promotion practices to webmasters, warning them against buying links (because you have to wait till people start sharing your links of their own volition), or over-optimising their pages (SEO). Mind you, the whole point of all that is to get to the 1st page in Google's search results. So that's bad, not allowed. However, buying a 1st spot in search results straight from Google is just fine.
Is it because there's a tiny sign by that result that reads 'Ad'? That makes all the difference? I don't think it matters that much as long as you're still allowed to get targeted traffic by the keywords you hand-pick straight from the search.
True, it was once very easy to manipulate search results and get your website on top by simply tuning your pages content and exchanging links, not even buying them. That didn't always lead to the worthiest websites being in the top 10. But when they decided to put an end o that and include behavioral and other factors, I didn't hold my breath that now justice will be served. They said, we'll take into consideration reviews of your site on other websites and social signals (Facebook, Twitter etc). Ok, wasn't it obvious that people will just switch from exchanging and buying links to paying for social mentions, shares, tweets, reviews? Because that's what hapenned. I'm not saying that it's all it takes to get successful, but it is still a necessary part of it as before was the case with SEO and links exchanges. Because if your competition is doing that and you're just waiting till people show true love, you can be waiting a looong time.
No matter what we do, we end up building that 'Kalashnikov'.
The surveillance spider that has emerged on the net during the past few years. Google, Facebook, numerous smaller companies all gathering shitloads of data on people. Buying and selling that data between themselves. All those Android apps asking for permissions to know your identity, list of your contacts, read the contents of your sd card whether they need those to functions or not.
And why does that work? Because people love freebies. All successful big projects know that. They all start off as these useful free services, wait a little before people are hooked and then stuff their products full of ads, just like the guy before, whom they've driven out of business with their pretence of 'no ads'. And if there are no ads, then your data is being gathered and sold so you can be shown ads later elsewhere. I think you can see similar cases in all sorts of fields. Hard to compete with a big business when they pour their money in and can afford to not see returns for a coupe of years. Little guy has to eat something today and feed his family, he has to make some profit soon.
And can anyone compete with China? How many people will prefer Chinese goods today, be it clothes, home appliances or electronics to the dearer alternatives?
Even though we might know the pricier products were made locally, using eco-friendly materials, by people receiving normal wages, yada-yada-yada, the price remains the most convincing argument. In developed and third world alike. Lots of documentaries about exploitation, child labour, slave labour still used today in some of those countries with cheaper products, and there's no end in sight for their popularity.
I guess we just have to admit it: we don't really care all that much. We want our coffee, tea, chocolate, gadgets and cheap! And if the most ethical store opens up in the center of the city offering those products for their real, no-exploitation or cheating involved price - it will probably not last very long. Ethics just isn't very productive and conducive to surviving and prospering in this world. And it doesn't only concern our species, the naked apes, it works as a sort of 'law of nature' in the wild. Nature doesn't care how you get to survive and spread your genes forward, just do it. You can be a virus, a flesh-eating parasite, or a predator, anything goes. You can also be a herbivore, but then you better be a good runner.
That's how we got on top of the food chain: by taking, subjugating and using anything and everything around us, even including enslaving our own. I don't support the thinking that humans are destroying nature, we're just following its laws to the logical end. Nature was never against unethical practices, every organism tries to take as much for themselves as they can until they are stopped by another organism, who prays on them. We just got on top of the horro-chain and we started making ourseleves as comfortable as possible, and now there's just too damn many of us, so our impact is really showing this time. We are our bitch mother nature's most faithful followers: exploit until you get stopped.
Anyway, this post was sort of inspired by my discovering the service I once used back in the day shut down last year. Not surprisingly really, because everyone uses ad-block in their browsers today so banner advertisement became hard to do. But the message gets a good point across, that if everyone stuck to non-invasive banner ads, no pop-ups, huge flashing things, disgusting pictures, irrelevant ads (like acne remedy on an automobile website), there would be no need for ad blocking. But the aggressive, invasive, shameless tactics always work best, don't they? So we go in circles of trying to push the most obnoxious, intrusive ads and then inventing blocking software for them. Sending spam and then making anti-spam filters. And now we have 'voluntary' data sharing and tracking of the sites we visit and being shown personalized ads around the internet wherever we go. And the privacy providing software is gaining more ground.
So the letter itself:
When we started working on Project Wonderful in early 2006, it was with the hope that online advertising could be something good, something that you'd want to see. We were always the odd company out: we didn't track readers, we didn't sell out our publishers, and we never had issues with popups, popunders, or other bad ads the plague the internet - because our technology simply wasn't built to allow for that. We let you place an image and link on a website, and that was it. And we filtered the ads that could run on our network, so our publishers knew they could trust us.
We'd hoped that would be enough, but in the past several years, the internet has changed. Large sites like Facebook do all they can to keep readers on their network, rather than sending that traffic out to individual websites. As such, many readers - who used to visit dozens if not hundreds of websites a day - now visit only a few sites, and things like the indie "blogosphere" (remember that?) are disappearing. We're hopeful that individual creators can adapt - either by embracing these walled gardens in a way that protects themselves, or by finding other ways to draw attention to their work - but as a network founded on supporting independent websites, our options were limited. Some advertising networks have held on by adopting more and more invasive user tracking, forcing their publishers to sign binding contracts, or by trying to train publishers (and readers!) to expect that "sometimes a bad ad will sneak through", but that's something we always refused to do. We believed - and still believe - that you deserve better. We believed - and still believe - in a world where an ad blocker wouldn't be an obvious thing to install, because advertising would be good, interesting, and non-invasive.
Unfortunately, we're no longer in a position to supply that better option to you.
Whatever we do, the 'Kalashnikov' will re-surface. We'll find ways to cheat and deceive and sell. Just the way we are.
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hahaha)) thanks for the bus analogy!
Yeah, the downward spiral of Youtube is regrettable. But that's a sign of the times. I've seen several news outlets simply closing their comments section in recent years. First for selected 'sensitive' topics, the alltogether. Because free speech is overrated, apparently. That's probably one of the few things that I can still appreciate about Ukraine, the lack of political correctness, even though it's happening here too, but much slower. We do have real problems. That kind of immunizes against all those 1st world problems of being offended half to death. Where I live, butthurt means doctor prescribed wrong medicine for hemorrhoids or the medicine was fake, because there is a percentage of fake drugs in our drugstores. It's a Ukrainian roulette. You buy the pills and then hope it's not just crayon.
Hey, better not start on another rant. "I came, I saw, I complained."
One more terrible news, the poor Grumpy died.((
Yep, I'm not sure I'd be able to make money doing what I do if I had to start today. A bit of 'right place right time' is often a factor.
I know what you're sayigng. Sometimes I wonder whether I am less moral than some people or just more aware of my ethical shortcomings. I do feel like there's a lot of pretending going on - partly concious, partly subconscious. And that I used to do a lot more pretending myself. We all grow up in society and inject its roles and codes of conduct, only later in life do we get to put those into question, if we want to.
I've heard a lot of worries being rased regarding AI. I think it's warranted. But who cares, I mean, it will either be a world war, or some other great catastrophy, feels like we're almost 'due for it; historically speaking.
Regarding Google social engeneering, that's a new low, of course. Lately I feel like I'm back into USSR as I find tons of movies are made with obvious political agendas. Netflix, which I'm subscribed to, is particularly bad. They treat their viewers like dumb children who have to be eductated that world is filled with inter-racial couples having gay/lesbian children who transition to another gender and also don't shave their armpits, or do, but either way you're a horrible person if you have an opinion about that))) And women-austronauts and mechanics ordering silly, 'toxicly masculine' men around. Pa-lease! Fairy tales for grown-ups, that's what they make. Not real world representation. Just like USSR made movies: not about what was, but about what they wanted to convince people was going on. Happy workers living in shared apartments singing songs while working on dirty plants, delighted to give their lives and health for the Motherland!
Well, I'll just grab a popcorn and watch what will turn out of this wave of an attempt at social engeneering.