Technology as Pebble-in-the-Shoe

Oct 24,2014

The Quaker philosopher and health nut Moses Bailey is reported to have advised, sometime after his 100th birthday, to 'avoid all advertising--it riles the brain'. Though this becomes an increasingly Sisyphean ambition as technology allows advertising to intrude deeper and deeper into the crevices of our private lives, I have put forth my best effort over the years. I'm old enough to remember when YouTube had no advertisements; it was a simple, user-friendly site with no videos longer than ten minutes. Eventually, in response to public demand, videos started getting longer and more censored, the site became more popular, and it was unable to provide sufficient bandwidth on its own. Enter advertisements--at first, of the kind that ran for a minute or so and could be skipped after playing for a few seconds, but increasingly of the type that must play in their entirety before the desired clip can be shown.

I used to use YouTube to play background music for my students while they did writing assignments in class, but, finding with regularity that strident and frenetic conversation, compressed until it's in your face, tends to break student concentration, I got around last week to downloading one of those lovely freeware packages to block ads on YouTube.

It was my biggest mistake since the time I agreed to look at a friend's pictures on Zoosk.

Not only are ads not blocked on YouTube, but they now pop up on every other web page as well, in flashing, fingernails-on-the-chalkboard annoying mini windows that together take up most of the screen. All I can say is do not download YouTube AdBlocker.

That was last week, and as of last night, a spammer calling him/her/itself 早川詩織 has infiltrated my mobile telephone and began sending approximately two messages per hour, a phenomenon that continues to the present moment. (Previously, that inbox received about two messages per month, always from SoftBank advertising a legitimate product). My wife and I together could not figure out how to adjust the settings on the iPhone to stop this menace, and it looks like we'll have to go to SoftBank to see if they can do anything about it. As for my computer on campus, it looks like the only thing to do is wipe the system's memory and forever abandon YouTube to the corporate maggots that swarm it.

Well, last week when I tried to shut down my office computer here, the process took longer than I was willing to wait for, while the blue screen claimed to be installing 17 programs. I have no memory of ever downloading any here. On occasion I acquiese to download software updates, which are nearly constant and always 'crucial' or 'critical' on my computer at home, but the only tangible result of such is that I can no longer use one or more bits of software that had worked fine up to that point.

This may slow me down in future, but for now it's given me something to blog about. In an ideal world, anyone hypothetically reading this would be able to easily comment and engage in online conversation visible to all, but the blog program to which TPIEF is currently fettered makes such communication more trouble than it's worth to most people. This may change someday. One can only grumble while hoping.

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