The immensely stupid fragility of our "high-tech" way of living

It’s embarrassing. It really is.

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Warning: short rant ahead. Every now and then is needed, and this is (I hope) of public utility too.

I just read that “An extensive network of commercial surveillance tracks our every move and a fair number of our thoughts”, creating two opposite fears:

One is that it strips us of every freedom of choice we may still have.

The other is that it is a scam, because it does not work at all, to the point that “Advertising Tech may be the next Internet bubble”.

“May be”? Or it was a bubble since the beginning?

The book “Subprime Attention Crisis”, says Wired, lays out the case that the new ad business is built on a fiction: “Microtargeting is far less accurate, and far less persuasive, than it’s made out to be… and yet it remains… the source of wealth for some of the world’s biggest, most important companies” (the ones that have morphed from Big Tech to Big Banks, that is).

Similar conditions are what led to the subprime crisis and the 2008 meltdown. The book autho thinks online ads are heading in the same direction, since “no one really grasps their worthlessness…There are piles of research papers supporting the idea that companies' returns on investment in digital marketing are generally anemic and often negative”.

Add that to…

For full details on that particular bubble of stupidity, DO read the full book, or Wired’s review, ot my own previous posts about advertising.

Me, today really I need to vent how immensely embarrassed I am by the stupidity of ALL the “business” MODELS like that.


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I am not talking ethics or morals here, nor I am a Luddite. I am only talking of the fact that behavioral advertising goes hand in hand with, to name just the biggest reasons why Martians vehemently, consistently deny sharing the same star with us:

Bear with me. I’m almost done, but first, a short digression is necessary…

About taxes “uncertainty”

Delirious bureaucracy, public service inefficiencies, norms apparently written in long forgotten languages, and then hidden, by drunkards, digitization done wrong… apply all these plagues to taxes, and the result hurts real entrepreneurship, equal opportunities, and in general the common good, way more than taxes maybe “too high”, but quick and certain.

It is embarrassingly stupid to be told, five years after a tax return was approved that no, we just realized that that year you also owned extra money, so bad of you to have invested that same money in your business, back then.

It is equally stupid, and maddening, to be told, by the same office, stuff like (don’t ask me how I know):

  1. “your late mother was entitled to a 600 Euros refund that other year, where shall we wire the money?”
  2. (one month later) “no, wait: we just realized that the year she died her accountant made her pay 650 Euros less in good faith but, unexplicably, she never corrected that error. So now her heirs CANNOT just pay 50 Euros to get on with their lives: FIRST, find and pay 650 Euros, THEN we will refund 600”

All the plagues above (and too MANY more) have two things in common:

  1. All are enabled, or at least greatly intensified, by really, really stupid (ab)uses, or at least huge misunderstandings, of both digital technologies and what innovation is
  2. All make societies worldwide too stupidly fragile, from the individual to the macroeconomic level

Bill Watterson! is right: " the surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us."

Thanks for your patience. Rant over. You may now return to enjoy my regular blogging. If you agree that our hyper-(mis)digitized way of living is a galactic embarrassment, see the yellow box below to help me keep fighting it.