QoTD: Cathy O’Neil
I for one would be willing to give someone a sliver
of the amount saved every time they manipulated my
online persona to save me money. You save me $1.00,
I’ll give you a dime.
A little while ago, I said something about how the adtech scene is out of touch with regular people. Just found a good example.
John Battelle writes that the solution to getting people to accept creepy web ads is...long weaselly Terms of Service documents!
Quite a concept. You can get people to like one unnatural behavior that only makes sense inside the corporate filter bubble by using another unnatural behavior that only makes sense within the corporate filter bubble.
We're doing stuff that makes you really uncomfortable, privacy-wise, but that's perfectly fine, because it's all in that long Terms of Service document that you automatically agree to by visiting our site.
Unfortunately, this might not be going far enough. In order to really get people to accept creepy targeted ads, the advertisers will need to add in:
complicated voicemail systems
Styrofoam packing peanuts
not just a bunch of legal jibber-jabber. How about it?
Virtual cartoon police for the web
Remember this story from Global Voices a while ago?
...the police in China's capital, Beijing, will start patrolling websites registered on Beijing servers using animated police officers that pop up in a user's browser....According to the Associated Press, the cartoon cops canwalk, bike or drive across the screenevery 30 minutes, warning Internet users to stay away fromillegal Internet contentandbad websites.
How about we make something similar for sites in the USA?
I'll be adding an animation with a placeholder image to this site...any cartoonists out there want to do some sketches?
Adversariality and web ads
I have an RSS feed aggregator that subscribes to feeds from people in the online ad business, and also from people looking at the online ad business from the outside. Why does it sound like one group is talking about targeted ads as ponies everyone wants, and the other is talking about them as rats to be exterminated?
From within the online ad business, increasingly detailed tracking, profiling, and targeting of users is a great idea. A recent example, from Jeremy Ozen, is The Ad Industry Must Stand Up for the Collection of Mobile Data.
Meanwhile, everyone else who writes about
online ads just wants to avoid being tracked,
profiled, and targeted. Here's a recent
example of that. Cory Doctorow at Boing Boing covers
a browser plugin intended to
make it harder to
profile your traffic based on surveillance.
So why the big difference? Why does adtech seek relevance, but regular people avoid it? Let's see if I can put it in 140 characters.
I'm interested in what your company says to existing customers, the public, and your mom, not what you'll say on my doorstep to make a sale.
How's that? More in Targeted Advertising Considered Harmful
Seth Godin: No one ever bought anything on an elevator
Benefits of advertising include the placebo effect? Drug ads may enhance drug performance
Hijacking the Internet
Who's really hijacking the Internet?
Back in the day, the "agency discount" for advertising was 15 percent. That means that every time your company bought a magazine ad, the publishing company got 85% and the ad agency got 15%.
For a typical business or tech magazine, the subscription price paid for the printing and postage, and the advertising paid for the reporters, editors, photographers, and designers. And things pretty much worked. Business or tech media wasn't the most lucrative job in the world, but people could make a living at it.
Now let's look at the publisher's share for web ads. It's about 25% to 45%. Instead of an ad agency spending 15% of your ad budget on salaries, rubber cement, and three-martini lunches, you now have a bewildering array of adtech middleweasels spending 55-75% of your ad budget on Macbooks Pro (is that even the right plural—hell with it, copy editing was the first thing to go) artisan coffee, Big Data, and gourmet food trucks.
It's an example of the Internet making an industry less efficient. Which should be in an Economics paper somewhere, but really, we need to find honest work for software developers now stuck in adtech. And for real advertisers to quit the adtech-captured IAB, but you knew that.
More on Persona
The big Mozilla Persona News is that Persona now has a gateway for Gmail users. If you have GMail and use Persona to sign in to a site, then Google can see that you're using the gateway, but not which site you're connecting to.
With BrowserID, by design, your identity providers
are not involved in the login transaction. This means
they need not be aware of your entire Web activity,
a significant privacy advantage. With OpenID, your
identity provider is, unfortunately, a necessary
participant in the login flow.
If your email address is on a domain that doesn't have a gateway or full Persona support, you can still use Persona, just with an extra step of filling out a form and getting an email confirmation. Try it.
Now for the fun part. If you're interested in
adding first-class Persona Identity Provider
support to your own site, so that people who
have an email adddres on your domain can use
it to log in at other places, read one webmaster's
After a few days of hacking, "rfk.id.au" now acts
as an Identity Provider for the BrowserID protocol,
a.k.a Mozilla Persona. This means I can now log in as
email@example.com on any persona-enabled website while
retaining complete control over my identity. I do
not have to delegate my details or my credentials to
a third party, even one that I would trust as much
Bonus links follow.
Automatically run make when a file changes
Hey, kids! makewatch script!
Really simple: do a
makewatch [target] to re-run
make with the supplied [target] when any files
relevant to that target change.
This is something originally discussed in a thread on the linux-elitists mailing list.
Andrew Cowie has written something
The main thing that this one does differently is to
make which files matter to it, instead of doing
an inotifywatch on the whole directory. Comments and
Listening to Podcasts on Android
Here's how behind on native apps I was: I was still running Google Listen even after it died last year. (The thing kept working since it was synchronized to Google Reader somehow, but then Google Reader went away, too.)
Anyway, I have finally moved to the current decade (If the Internet works on dog years, a decade is 17 months) and installed AntennaPod. Works for me. Nice clean look with easy-to-hit controls, and starts up quickly.
Point of order: web site login
This started out as a comment over at the Doc Searls Weblog but IMHO it's worth repeating and expanding. Because someone actually made a working solution to a large-scale problem.
Mozilla Persona is full of win.
Especially compared to “social login.”
Mozilla Persona is not just "log in with [big web company]" with a better logo. It's different, and way, way, better. If you're still complaining about the web login problem, you probably just don't understand Mozilla Persona well enough.
The BrowserID protocol never leaks tracking
information back to the Identity Provider.
So you can use your @example.com email addres to log in to whatever sites you like, and example.com never knows which ones.
If your site login method is based on “let’s make users remember complex strings of text, which we know people are really bad at” or “let’s depend on having our users tracked by big companies, which we know people hate” you need to take a short hacking break. Make a simple web application that uses Mozilla Persona, learn how excellent it is, and then never go back.
Bonus link: OAuth
of Fealty by Ian Bogost.
The short truth
is this: Facebook doesn't care if developers can use
the platform easily or at all.
And Mozilla would never do anything like that, right? (Seriously. Please don't. Mozilla Persona fanboy here—if you mess it up I'll look like the web authentication version of Zune Tattoo Guy.)
New HTML Parser: The long-awaited libxml2 based HTML parser code is live. It needs further work but already handles most markup better than the original parser.
Keep up with the latest Advogato features by reading the Advogato status blog.
If you're a C programmer with some spare time, take a look at the mod_virgule project page and help us with one of the tasks on the ToDo list!