Yes, our lives are driven by advertising, television, the Inter-Web-A-Tron, and cell phones. I understand that. But this recent article on Slashdot really disturbed me, which discusses Apple’s recent Patent on a technology that pulls up ads on your Apple device, and then requires User Interaction before it will dismiss the ad and let you continue using said device. It’s not enough to be plagued by advertising everywhere we go, but now our computers are demanding attention from us, before they will perform the tasks we want them to.
I shouldn’t be surprised. After all, most advertising is fairly intrusive, and marketers have always been trying to pry more and more or our attention away from the things we want to be looking at so they can make us look at something else. Still, this bothers me in a whole other way. When I buy a piece of technology, I think of it as a tool. It serves certain functions, and I want it to perform those functions. Aside from existing as a physical artifact that, itself, can function as a way to advertise itself, I don’t want things I own to advertise to me anymore than they already do. The Inter-Web-A-Tron is bad enough as it stands; I don’t want my iPod to seize up every time Apple wants to sell me something.
This annoyance is part of an on-going problem with digital technologies in the last 10 years. Intellectual Property Rights, DRM, downloading as a crime, and the issues surrounding Net Neutrality, are all pointing to a future where technology works less and less for me, and more and more for a corporate empire that wants to sell me stuff I don’t need. And again, I shouldn’t be surprised; the portents have been in place since I first got my TRS-80 way back in the day. And all you have to do is watch an episode of Mad Men to get the other point: advertising has ALWAYS been that evil.
Still, I can’t help but feel that my urge to move to a cabin and live alone in the woods for the rest of my life is entirely justified.