What happens next will amaze you

Ad blockers have been in headlines a lot recently due to Apple’s introduction of that functionality to their latest mobile operating system. Advertisers and publishers are not happy with this loss of revenue; users are not happy being tracked across the web.

A recent talk by Maciej Cegłowski on personal data, its collection by dysfunctional advertising networks, and their own pillaging by robots, explains clearly and depressingly why we’ve reached this standoff.

Here are a few choice samples, but you should really read through the whole transcript.

In this world, privacy becomes a luxury good. Mark Zuckerberg buys the four houses around his house in Palo Alto, to keep hidden what the rest of us must share with him. It used to be celebrities and rich people who were the ones denied a private life, now it’s the other way around.

Today we live in a Blade Runner world, with ad robots posing as people, and Deckard-like figures trying to expose them by digging ever deeper into our browsers, implementing Voight-Kampff machines in Javascript to decide who is human. We’re the ones caught in the middle.

Advertisers end up right back where they started,still not knowing which half of their advertising budget is being wasted. Except in the process they’ve destroyed our privacy.

Week-end long reads

Stop Googling. Let’s Talk.

I have seen this resilience during my own research at a device-free summer camp. At a nightly cabin chat, a group of 14-year-old boys spoke about a recent three-day wilderness hike. Not that many years ago, the most exciting aspect of that hike might have been the idea of roughing it or the beauty of unspoiled nature. These days, what made the biggest impression was being phoneless.

Why We Hate Cheap Things

Why, then, do we associate cheap prices with a lack of value? Our response is a hang-over from our long pre-industrial past. For most of human history, there truly was a strong correlation between cost and value: the higher the price, the better things tended to be – because there was simply no way both for prices to be low and quality to be high.

White people react to evidence of white privilege by claiming greater personal hardships

In a study published in the November issue of Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, L. Taylor Phillips and Brian S. Lowery point out that progress on racial equality is limited by the fact that many whites deny the existence of inequities.

The last pig

A documentary in the making called The last pig is seeking funding on Indiegogo.

It’s the story of pig farmer Bob Comis who, after ten years of struggling with the ethics of raising animals for slaughter, decides to quit.

It looks like a worthwhile project to support. The trailer is below.

Shark dancer

Amazing images of Cristina Zenato, known as the shark whisperer or the shark dancer. She somehow seems to put these fierce looking creatures into a trance as she caresses them.

Week-end reading

Time for the traditional Friday reading list.

The Science Behind ‘They All Look Alike to Me’

That racially loaded phrase “they all look alike to me,” turns out to be largely scientifically accurate, according to Roy S. Malpass, a professor emeritus of psychology at the University of Texas at El Paso who has studied the subject since the 1960s. “It has a lot of validity,” he said.

The pop star and the prophet

Also in 1976, a French polymath called Jacques Attali wrote a book that predicted this crisis with astonishing accuracy. It was called Noise: The Political Economy of Music and he called the coming turmoil the “crisis of proliferation”.
Soon we would all have so much recorded music it would cease to have any value, he said. And that sounds pretty accurate to me - I don’t remember the last time I spent £10 ($15) on a new album.

The Avenger

For Dornstein, meeting Eter was revelatory. “I had been trying to construct the world of Libyan intelligence in the nineteen-eighties from spare parts, and now suddenly here was this guy who had actually lived it,” he said. “It was as if you’d read all the Harry Potter books, then you got to sit down with a guy who actually went to Hogwarts.”

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My name is Colin O'Brien, I live in Brussels, Belgium. This blog has been compiling my random thoughts and links since 1998.

One day there may be a more interesting bio here…

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