If the algorithms conditioning us to keep us glued to the screen really are that insidiously sophisticated, why are their sister algorithms so bad at picking ads that make us click?
What if we are not glued to the screen because we are manipulated into addiction... but because we want to be inside these little boxes doing the very same meaningless repetitive moves, rather than deal with reality?
Of course, we’d all prefer to be victims of the supreme AI overlords than a bunch of idiots that choose to be trapped in little boxes for hours and hours piling stones on stones.
I know that the basis of an argument that goes “I don’t know anyone that…” is far from scientific, but, hey, do *you* know anyone that clicks on ads? How is this the fundamental business model of the Internet?
If you asked me spontaneously on the street to decide whether online advertisement is a gigantic scam or whether there is a hidden group of Billions of real people I have never met that click on ads, I’d go for “SCAM!”
I know that there are not just banners, that the really big money makers are search ads that people don’t recognize as such, and that there are promoted tweets and promoted Insta and FB posts. But have you tried promoting stuff with them? Except search ads, they hardly work.
What kind of scam would it be? Do platforms pay click farms? It’s more likely than the common theory that competitors pay click farms to ruin the rival. But it’s still not a plausible explanation if you look at the astronomical volume of ads and clicks. What scam would it be?
Who invests all this money into digital advertising when the results are not only as inefficient as they are in print (“you get exposure!”) but measurably so?
To find out how much of Internet advertising is a scam and what kind of scam it is we need to know who pays these click farms and how. If there are people paying them with suitcases full of cash, one could look for money laundering. But how do they get the money back?
Companies can pay click farms to artificially boost followers and likes or to harm their competitors. This can be an economic factor: theguardian.com/technology/201…
The scale of the industry is hard to comprehend. Maybe the tiny margin of clicks and the general notion of exposure are a reality that most advertisers just accept as a modern day fact—and there’s nothing more to it than the ever same boredom that keeps us glued to the screen.
Long story short: Maybe it’s not algorithms and manipulation gluing us to the screen but the convenience of not having to deal with our feelings. Similarly, online ads are bought even though they don’t work because they are more convenient than their meager alternatives.
One difference between ads and content: We interact with content, we do not with ads. That makes them harder to optimize. Content follows our needs (we look for it to avoid dealing with our issues), ads try to create a need.
We are prone to fall for misinformation because we are constantly looking for confirmation. We need to reassure ourselves that the source of discomfort lies outside ourselves.
We all are prone to fall for misinformation, we tend to overreact when information plays into our needs and we rationalize and trivialize when the information is inconvenient and counter to our needs.
One primordial function of language is to guarantee the survival of humans as a group. Political Millions of Twitter is apes shouting at maximum volume. Some are fear other apes and their Gods, some shout about the extinction of all apes. How are we supposed to stay calm here?
You know this feeling: “What, against all odds, if they others are right? And we are completely wrong, shouting at thunder and lightning while others warn us of tigers?”
It’s just nuts: nytimes.com/2020/09/14/us/…
This type of news causes in itself a distress that makes us want to hide in small digital boxes: amp.cnn.com/cnn/2020/09/14…
Ultimately we hide in games: nbcnews.com/tech/tech-news…

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More from @reichenstein

25 Aug
I might be going crazy, so please tell me if I make a logical mistake. The Apple claims that that 20 Million developers make 40 Billion Dollars in the App Store. That makes 2,000 per developer, right?
Now when you look at the top 10 apps, Facebook, YouTube, Snapchat, TikTok, Instagram, Messenger, Gmail, Netflix, Amazon... only two (direct competitors) pay the Apple Tax, but they all use the same infra structure. Correct?
Looking closer into the 40 Billion, 75% is made by games, big games like Minecraft, Call of Duty, and, yeah, Fortnite etc... the remaining money goes to big apps out of the top 10 like Entertainment apps like Disney, HBO, Amazon Prime, then Office, Tinder... Correct?
Read 15 tweets
2 Jul
This is a big week for us. New site, new logo, new font, big Windows update, pricing evened out between apps, 2 posts, soft launch of the new Android app with a new business model (choice between subscriptions and buying the app), and some things I can’t talk about yet.
You have heard this before, but it’s worth repeating. To focus it helps completely avoiding the news during the day. I’d like to think that I’m cooler than that but I’m not. Reading the news upsets me so much that I can’t concentrate and finish things.
I didn’t do it on purpose. I just noticed for some time now, coming home that I didn’t already know the news that Yumiko was telling me at dinner. So today I wanted to observe how my behavior changed and what changed it.
Read 9 tweets
25 Apr 18
“Designers should…” I was attracted to to applied arts because they require thinking outside the box. Design is motivated out of an desire for liberation. Making sure that what we do frees us and others and does not imprison us more is tough enough as a “should” for designers.
I am not saying every designer should aim at freeing others. There are different kinds of design and within each discipline has different great ways to work well and do well. Making sure design frees and does not imprison is what made most sense to me in my field and situation.
What I can say for sure is that the longer I design the harder it find it. Maybe, as a writer you tell me “Same!” To me, writing gets easier. Running gets easier. Cooking gets easier. Designing gets harder and harder. Not all of it, not technically. But at its core.
Read 12 tweets

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