Detoxing Our Commons
Advertisements are Killing us from the inside.
<span>We</span> were warned that our future was going to be full of advertising plastered everywhere we could see. Floating on blimps, projected on buildings, ever present and a constant specter acting against your attention.
What they didn’t tell us was how everyone would be doing it — not just the corporations — and we’d be holding these billboards in our pockets…
This is my treatise on how advertising is slowly killing the systems we depend upon to survive. It’s pulled together from over three year’s worth of explorations on the subject via my Twitter. This research originates from a life long curiosity in why people do what they do, and a strong concern over the ecosystems and perverse incentives we’re molding our lives around.
“I am not mad;
it is only that my head is different from yours.”
Diogenes The Cynic
So when life makes you a lemen:
Become the face biting squeaky-toy-of-doom you want to see in the world.
The law locks up the man or woman
Who steals the goose off the common
But leaves the greater villain loose
Who steals the common from the goose.
The law demands that we atone
When we take things we do not own
But leaves the lords and ladies fine
Who takes things that are yours and mine.
The poor and wretched don’t escape
If they conspire the law to break;
This must be so but they endure
Those who conspire to make the law.
The law locks up the man or woman
Who steals the goose from off the common
And geese will still a common lack
Till they go and steal it back.
— Anonymous, 17th Century Protest of enclosures.
Are you Human?
A short poem about holding hands.
“#84: We know some people from your company. They’re pretty cool online. Do you have any more like that you’re hiding? Can they come out and play?”
— Cluetrain Manifesto
Someone once told me that life was a game.
It’s a strange game.
It’s a game not about views, favs, likes, stars or shares.
It’s won by touching people’s lives & bringing value to human beings.
People follow people, brands are secondary.
So many people on social media are seeking engagement,
Yet they don’t realize all it takes is to reach out and engage.
=> Just sharing cool shit with friends.
Building an audience?
=> Just finding cool people who share the same values.
My personal brand? It’s a means to an end.
My green hair is just a way for you to remember me
and encourage reciprocity.
My strange reference to poop and ants?
They’re symbolic tools to discuss and build ideas around.
I’d rather have peers over fans.
I’d rather have friends, not followers.
I think we’re in this together,
so we should take turns leading.
So, like the Dog Cynic,
I shine my lantern on the web,
looking for an honest marketer.
“ Diogenes originally owned a wooden bowl which he used to eat and drink, but smashed it after seeing a poor boy drinking from his cupped hands.
He would eat in the marketplace, even though this was indecent according to Athenian custom, saying it was the only place he felt hungry.
Clearly, the joke is that markets cause appetites.”
Greek Philosophy: Democritus & Diogenes the Cynic
I investigate these things so that:
I may become a better human.
A better friend.
So, I say to you:
Become an expert in the system you want to destroy.
In a perfect world, there would be no such thing as marketers.
Just cool people sharing.
“I read an article a few days ago encouraging brands to be ‘friends’ with people online. I gagged a little. It worries me when it starts sounding like marketing wizards are trying to spawn little brand homunculi to do their bidding. Brands aren’t people. Brands become human by putting their people on the front lines.” #ProjectBritomartis
In which @autonomike (TWITTER LINK) expresses the pain of interacting with automated relationship building tools:
“It rings dull with impersonal syntax; an empty, soulless promise croaked from the throat of the damned into the uncaring void.”
Attention axiom shoppers:
Try blue, it’s the new red!
So there I was , just Shilling Out in the Commons
Become a paid shill today! Monetize your followers. But be sure your microblog complies with FTC guidelines. #SocialSpamvertizing (TWITTER LINK)
I am actively hostile to manipulation of friends and family thru the means of social media. It incentivizes noise.
Suppose you meet someone who tells you about a great new product. She tells you it performs wonderfully and offers fantastic new features that nobody else has. Would that recommendation factor into your decision to buy the product? Probably.
Now suppose the person works for the company that sells the product — or has been paid by the company to tout the product. Would you want to know that when you’re evaluating the endorser’s glowing recommendation? You bet. That common-sense premise is at the heart of the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) Endorsement Guides.
— The FTC’s Endorsement Guides: What People Are Asking
Worse, for every social media influencer program that abides by regulations, there will be 10 copycats that don’t have scruples to not lie.
I am deeply concerned over spread of platforms incentivising sockpuppets & manipulative “influencers”. Most abusive ones destabilize trust.
We’ve built these social media castles on trust. P2P ecommerce, and the transformative power of crowdfunding rely on honesty in the crowd.
This trust is fragile. Cultural norms that incentivies profit over relationship may destroy that. Honesty is key:
Swarm Intelligence? No-bias, independent analysis, diverse input, honest motives, & trust? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kjYFN4ElzzE …
Those dystopia stories of billboards and advertisements everywhere? They didn’t tell you that it would be via social. Drink Kool-aid today!
Basically, building an incentive engine that rewards non-citizen behavior. Tl;DR: Sybil attacks on social networks for advertising dollars.
“this advertising game sucks, if only we could get people doing social media to just tell their friends”
How much is your trust worth?
This is an attack on the commons, using self interests against us. Marketers infecting the watering hole with bacterial gastroenteritis.
To protect a community from parasytic ad’iarrhea: We need herd immunity. To sell may be human. But don’t shit where you eat. Sell hygiene.
The history of the internet is one riddled with stories of parasitical behavior:
“The adult wasps deposit their eggs close to the extrafloral nectaries so that their larvae, which hatch and migrate to the nectaries, can get collected by the feeding ants into a specialized pouch in the ant head. The young parasitoid larvae then hitchhike in the ants’ mouthparts until they are eventually transferred, possibly as potential food, to the ant larvae in the nest. Once attached to the ant larva, the wasps wait for the ant to pupate, kill their host and then complete their development within the ant nest.”
— Wasps, Ants, and Ani DiFranco
Interesting to see a rise in trust oriented P2P economies riding on back of the internet as we re-tribalize.
Interesting to envision how a different society would be if this trend continues:
What does it mean to trust a platform? What would it take to convince people put their faith in one?
(CAPTION) “many people began to recognize its slogans about trust and relationships as a rent-seeking ruse.” Aka: #WeWashing (TWITTER LINK)
Teens trying to find a balance between social connection & food on the table. What a strange world we are building.
“After a few weeks, Greenfield suggested adding GIFs (“ That moment every Sunday when you realize there’s school tomorrow” above Kanye West’s face changing from a broad smile to melancholy) and the posts started blowing up, “20,000 or 30,000 notes, and back then that was a lot.” Lilley and Greenfield graduated high school in the summer of 2012; by the fall So-Relatable had more than 200,000 followers and was making a couple thousand dollars a month. In October, they filed as an S-corporation, So Relatable Inc., and split the shares 50–50.[…]
In a sense, Yahoo faces the same problem as Tumblr users: There isn’t a lot of money in banner ads. Yahoo is experiencing declining revenue in display ads and the company is trying to make up for it with native advertising — ads that look like human-created content but were actually made for brands. Likewise, some Tumblr users have tried their own kind of native ads — posts endorsing products that link to the stores where you can buy them. Tumblr does not like this. It considers these posts “spam,” and will terminate an account for posting too many affiliate advertising links, or anything the company deems “non-genuine social gestures.”
— The Secret Lives of Tumbler Teens
Brands are not your friends, they are comforting fictions.
As we connect the world together, propaganda spreading via emotional contagion is no longer localized. It has become a globalized Sybil attack against our minds, fuels as a perverse side effect of advertising dollars and a misguided excitement sales work.
Ad hijacks are parasites. But as ads turn to interspecific competition vs us, malware is abandoning the dying host.
“[…] so many of our problems can be traced to bad biz models for news.”
“Most outlets chasing reach leverage social media (mostly Facebook) to get content read by as many people as possible. This changes the reward from “quality” and “originality” to getting content to spread virally. This decreases trust. In fact, it’s better to have more content than less, so lots of disposable stuff is written quickly, with little regard to what it adds to discourse. This decreases trust. Virality requires a visceral emotional reaction by the reader, regardless of nuance or truth. This decreases trust. Bonus points if you can shame an “other side” that your audience is galvanized around, and alienate those not included in your chosen tribe (hold that thought). This decreases trust. Then, enterprising people create content with the sole focus of taking advantage of this machine which floods the zone (like our friends with the Dwayne Johnson story) and, yes, decreases trust. Meanwhile, campaigns for companies are written as articles and published in an outlet’s feed, further confusing readers which… well, you get it.”
— Medium, and The Reason You Can’t Stand the News Anymore.
“We studied more than 130 cities, towns and villages in Tohoku, looking at factors such as exposure to the ocean, seawall height, tsunami height, voting patterns, demographics, and social capital. We found that municipalities which had higher levels of trust and interaction had lower mortality levels after we controlled for all of those confounding factors.
The kind of social tie that mattered here was horizontal, between town residents. It was a surprising finding given that Japan has spent a tremendous amount of money on physical infrastructure such as seawalls, but invested very little in building social ties and cohesion.”
— Recovering from disasters: Social networks matter more than bottled water and batteries
“[Mark:]My next thinking on this is that there’s a step beyond loyalty. And that is love. That’s a word we don’t use in business too often, but I think that’s the next step. I think we have to go beyond loyalty, because we’re seeing this research now that shows many people are not so brand loyal anymore. So, it makes me think that you may switch loyalties, but you won’t switch if you love the actual people who are part of that brand. […]
Mark: We don’t form emotional connections with logos. We don’t form emotional connections with LLCs. But we do form emotional connections with people. Now, some companies are people. Coca-Cola. Nike. McDonald’s. Disney. They’ve spent millions and millions of dollars for decades to build a true personality that we love. They’re part of our family. But most companies are not “a person” to us. However, we can form that love toward a real person in that company. […]
Phil: Wow. I love that. People will not love a brand. They will love the people who comprise that brand. That’s really good.”
— Content Monetization
“Phil: So, how do we do that online, Mark? How do we give people those virtual hugs?
Mark: I believe we do that by acknowledging people whenever we can. Responding to their comments, looking for opportunities to encourage people, connect with people, congratulate people, celebrate people. Honor them, reach out to them if you think they’re suffering in some way. It’s amazing how people will remember a small kindness. I don’t think you can fake authenticity. If you’re someone who is a performer, people are going to figure that out over time. But if you really are a person who cares, it is going to show, and it’s going to work.”
— Content Monetization
Hey, buy my product!
At least it memes well…
Are you shittin’ me?
If only these obnoxious ads were as entertaining as the memes that cropped up around them.
Fake News? Fake Everything!
Frothing at mouth,
infecting us, infesting us.
spewing hatred & perverse incentive.
Ads: We become what we behold.
It has been interesting to watch trend of commentary within Nuzzle shifting from reactionary groupthink and then giving way to reason. Everybody always seems to shares stuff that agrees with their worldviews, mostly because of initial outrage. The kneejerk response to fake news slowly peels away and now we are left staring at systemic issues or simply lost in the details. How many stay around to listen to the follow-up conversation? The people who care more about the actual issue?
I care a lot.
“You merely adopted the dark; I was born in it, moulded by it. I didn’t see the light until I was already a man, by then it was nothing to me but BLINDING!”
— Bane (YOUTUBE LINK)
I’ve been drinking from this watering hole that everybody else seems to have only just noticed. Watching the putrid filth and infection spread the whole time. Maybe it’s just my own special trick that I’m largely immune to the stink of advertising. I see it as a systematic problem, of which the fake stuff is just one small part of of my concern.
For me, it’s another aspect of a strange lifelong obsession with propaganda. You see, I’ve been interested in fake news since before it was cool. Fake news has been on my radar since at least 2010; But I called it rage-bait and focused on the economics of the problem. The shifting nature of news itself is where my interests seem to focus:
The good news is that there are services and tools being built to help fight this global trend:
“Unfiltered News allows you to explore Google News data across all publishing languages and locations to find important global stories and perspectives that may not be covered in your location.” Unfiltered.News
Nix the Marketing Clusterfuck
If you are genuinely concerned over effects of ‘fake news’ & aren’t just signaling some ingroup boosting narrative, consider reading the following article that describes a major reason for bullshit growth-hacking that fuels it:
“ The use of these and other buzzwords has caused a new generation of marketers to enter the field without knowing even the basic terms and practices that underpin our industry. The result is that too many tech marketers are basing their work on faulty premises, hurting our profession and flooding the Internet with spammy “content.” To understand where the marketing world went wrong, let’s first compare how marketing departments operated before and after the mass adoption of the Internet. […]
If marketers do not change their mindsets, they will continue to treat “content” as the “widgets” of business school and spam the Internet with crap as they try to publish more and more “content” at a cheaper and cheaper cost. But “content” is not a commodity. Creativity cannot be scaled.”
— Everything the tech world says about marketing is wrong
As I see it, the recent debate around facebook/google being gatekeepers and fake new is general is basically just partisan derping (TWITTER LINK). Over the masturbation over freedom of speech the 3rd party market.
Because of this hell hole of , a critical fact is being overlooked: The incentives for advertising $ is only one factor in a much larger ecosystem.
I hate to tell you this, but a portion of your twitter feed is probably farmed out novelty accounts scraping Reddit for cute pics. Big $$$
Its such a big business that scammers, password cracking, and phishing attacks are constantly trying to steal social media properties.
There are legitimate advertising programs & partnership/affiliate systems to go with. But underground markets attract unscrupulous players.
If you cut off $$$ from advertising, they are going to shift to another revenue stream.
If you don’t believe me, here’s a commentary straight from someone in the industry on 3rd party money:
“Coler doesn’t think fake news is going away. One of his sites — NationalReport.net — was flagged as fake news under a new Google policy, and Google stopped running ads on it. But Coler had other options.
“There are literally hundreds of ad networks,” he says. “Early last week, my inbox was just filled every day with people because they knew that Google was cracking down — hundreds of people wanting to work with my sites.”
Coler says he has been talking it over with his wife and may be getting out of the fake-news racket. But, he says, dozens, maybe hundreds of entrepreneurs will be ready to take his place. And he thinks it will only get harder to tell their websites from real news sites. They know now that fake news sells and they will only be in it for the money.”
— We Tracked Down A Fake-News Creator In The Suburbs. Here’s What We Learned
An important consideration: “If you don’t carefully design around abuse and fraud, you’ll end up with a system that’s even less fair”
Playing reactionary whack-a-mole is not a long term solution when fighting a Lernaean Hydra. A Sociopathic Snake.
and I’ve said this before…
We’ve built these social media castles on trust. P2P eCommerce, and the transformative power of crowdfunding rely on honesty in the crowd. This trust is fragile. Cultural norms that incentivies profit over relationship may destroy that. Honesty is key.
These thing are big multi-sided decentralized markets… entire ecosystems. Hard to tell what feeds them. Maybe it runs deeper:
“The creation and distribution of fake and misleading news and disinformation is being financed by these ad networks. It’s almost impossible for an advertiser to audit this effectively, so my guess is most advertisers don’t care yet about being on these kinds of sites alongside fake news.”
— Advertisers Don’t Care About Fake News Sites
It’s a big game w/ multiple players, like the subgenre of cargo cult influencer marketing racket:
“ I strongly believe most of the brands and agencies utilizing these types of companies are doing so because they genuinely care about advocacy, they’re just not getting an honest view at what they’re really buying. They believe they’re connecting with relevant, influential people who share things they care about with people who’ll listen. The truth is anything but.”
— Influencer Marketing’s Dirty Little Secret
My focus/hatred is largely focused on what I call #SocialSpamvertising (TWITTER LINK) — kind of stuff driving fake engagement & autoDMs.
I’ve been tracking a known spammer’s automated bot’s junk comments for ages. Tracking guy’s automated empty bullshit on Google+ since 2014 This is disgusting.
Even wanted to try and structure a startup around the idea:
But as I dug further and further into the mechanisms forcing these odd perversions on social media I realized that what I was targeting was just a drop in the ocean. An ocean of filter bubbles…
“The filter bubble–the idea that online recommendation engines learn what we like and thus keep us only reading things we agree with–has evolved. Algorithms, network effects, and zero-cost publishing are enabling crackpot theories to go viral, and — unchecked — these ideas are impacting the decisions of policy makers and shaping public opinion, whether they are verified or not. […]
Once a user joins a single group on Facebook, the social network will suggest dozens of others on that topic, as well as groups focused on tangential topics that people with similar profiles also joined. That is smart business. However, with unchecked content, it means that once people join a single conspiracy-minded group, they are algorithmically routed to a plethora of others. Join an anti-vaccine group, and your suggestions will include anti-GMO, chemtrail watch, flat Earther (yes, really), and “curing cancer naturally” groups. Rather than pulling a user out of the rabbit hole, the recommendation engine pushes them further in. We are long past merely partisan filter bubbles and well into the realm of siloed communities that experience their own reality and operate with their own facts.”
— Social Network Algorithms Are Distorting Reality By Boosting Conspiracy Theories
Filter bubbles generated by ad-revenue fuel clusterfuck…
“Worse, the picture was being used to promote spam. Ostensibly, Facebook users were sharing and ‘liking’ the image to support a little girl with cancer. In reality the Facebook page that published the picture was using it to garner ‘likes’ with the intention of selling the page to someone else or using it to sell products. Reith told CNN that, while she was happy to help raise awareness for cancer, seeing her daughter’s picture shared as a hoax was painful. ‘What makes me truly angry, though, is knowing that they’re using it as an insidious way to make money,’ Rieth said. ‘That’s not what her survival is about to us.’”
— Fact-checking grandma
Filter bubbles, unstable feedback loops, destroying trust:
Filter bubbles built on the back of a system of advertising.
“we expect that advertising funded search engines will be inherently biased towards the advertisers and away from the needs of the consumers.
In general, it could be argued from the consumer point of view that the better the search engine is, the fewer advertisements will be needed for the consumer to find what they want. This of course erodes the advertising supported business model of the existing search engines. However, there will always be money from advertisers who want a customer to switch products, or have something that is genuinely new. But we believe the issue of advertising causes enough mixed incentives that it is crucial to have a competitive search engine that is transparent and in the academic realm.”
— The Anatomy of a Large-Scale Hypertextual Web Search Engine, by Sergey Brin and Lawrence Page
Filter bubbles, all the way down.
Domestic and international companies are being paid to identify Americanvoters in real time, and expose them to highly tailored messages at specific times, specific places, and while certain friends, family, and emotional cues (e.g., television shows or breaking news) are present. These aren’t just any other sites — these are known purveyors of propaganda, lies, hoaxes, malware, and misinformation. Where do we even begin to draw the line?
— Who Hacked the Election? Ad Tech did. Through “Fake News,” Identify Resolution and Hyper-Personalization
“ It seems ranting at bots and random Saas providers (TWITTER LINK) until they comply with twitter automation rules and guidelines isn’t quite cutting it.”
Modern (Dis)Information Systems
“People expect breakthroughs to happen through colorful game-changing bursts, but often it is the product of slow progression. It is the end result of a thousand debates about implementation.”
— Sean Tilley
Our weakest strength:
We can channel collective action & align with shared goals
Yet our fear & outrage carries us away with the mob.
In a many-to-many world, misinformation is writ by everyone.
Incentives + share = emotion dominate fact.
Pro-sumer + Propaganda = Groupthink.
In a modern decentralized social networked world: propaganda is the swarm speaking to itself.
How to end groupthink without destroying the group?
What do we lose if we stop following the swarm?
“The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country.
We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized. Vast numbers of human beings must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a smoothly functioning society.
In almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons…who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind.”
― Edward L. Bernays, ‘ Propaganda’
I don’t think propaganda is the right word in this networked era. An immunity mindset from the one-to-many that doesn’t work anymore.
Cutting yourself off from those who spread lies isn’t the answer.
“Forgiveness is particularly helpful if you introduce the possibility of misinformation into the game” Survival of the nicest?
Applying old notions of propaganda to modern information landscape is going to destroy the strength of our networks.
“ Thus, with high enough relatedness between the individuals, a game exists that ensures the individuals will form a group whenever it is mutually beneficial, a condition we term full cooperation, or efficiency. If relatedness is below that threshold, some cooperation will still take place, but some pairs of individuals that would be better off in a group will nevertheless not cooperate at equilibrium, because of the incentives to misrepresent their private information.”
Evolution of cooperation and skew under imperfect information
In a world where information networks dominate, and emotional contagion is driving popular rhetoric, what do you do?
Playing reactionary whack-a-mole is not a long term solution when fighting a Lernaean Hydra. A Sociopathic Snake.
My guess: the answer is somewhere within complexity science; Treat these information networks as the living systems they are.
This book summarizes why I hate deceptive marketing:
“Ever since Adam Smith, the central teaching of economics has been that free markets provide us with material well-being, as if by an invisible hand. In Phishing for Phools, Nobel Prize–winning economists George Akerlof and Robert Shiller deliver a fundamental challenge to this insight, arguing that markets harm as well as help us.
As long as there is profit to be made, sellers will systematically exploit our psychological weaknesses and our ignorance through manipulation and deception. Rather than being essentially benign and always creating the greater good, markets are inherently filled with tricks and traps and will “phish” us as “phools.”
— Phishing for Phools: The Economics of Manipulation and Deception
Can we develop a form of herd immunity?
“Falsehood flies, and the Truth comes limping after it; so that when Men come to be undeceiv’d, it is too late; the Jest is over, and the Tale has had its Effect…”
— Jonathan Swift, 1710 via Quote Investigator
How does a community of people respond to an infectious agent?
Millennials are killing 1-to-many advertising norms prevailing from before 1850s?
“the largest turd in [Lifetime’s] crap crown of original programming…so unforgiving, so psychologically trying, that the process alone leaves the viewer straining to hear the dialogue over the sound of the soul being crushed wholesale, bone and sinew wrenched apart at the joint. […]
She’s just a cat — a cat that people think they know the inner thoughts of, creating amusement at it being just like people. She’s dressed up and carried around throughout the film like an inanimate prop, and when she’s not being bounced around in front of a green screen, she rests on a cushion, occasionally not even lifting her head while the narrative swirls around her, paying no mind, like a stone overtaken by the stream. Tardar Sauce, or Grumpy Cat, is just a cat. She’s a creature that deserves better than crass commercialization and stark exploitation. She’s not the Internet’s property. She’s not Lifetime’s property. She’s not mean or sassy or snide. She’s a cat.
But this movie doesn’t understand that Tardar Sauce is just a sweet, helpless cat any more than it understands that its audience is made up of actual human beings.”
— How to consume Grumpy Cat’s Worst Christmas Ever
If you think about it, even for profit malware ecosystem are shifting from web/ad-hijacks over to a social modus. There’s even one now that requires you to infect three of you friends to decrypt your files. Some of the most virulent computer infections use the networks themselves to spread, so it only make sense that the for-profit versions are taking a simlar approch.
If you looking up any popular business mogul and Soap, you get all sorts of funny oddities.
Take for example “Peter Drucker on Soap”: it nets an article about how his grandson sees brands as performing Tulpamancy. Infecting minds and infesting them like a virus.
Everything I personally learned about branding, I derived from Ze Frank: “A brand is an emotional aftertaste (YOUTUBE LINK) that is conjured up by, but necessarily dependent on a series of experiences.” and his interesting take on product placement (YOUTUBE LINK).
“By making you feel better about yourself, the brand transcends mere product status and becomes a friend.” What is Emotional Marketing ?
I think what millennials have noticed that many before us have not: Brands are not your friends, they are comforting fictions that infect our reality. In that light, what many see as jaded and self-loathing actions may actually be acting as a cultural defense mechanism.
Are becoming immune on our own to the old formulations of advertising?
“ Society is changing at an ever-increasing rate, especially since the beginning of the 21st century due, among other reasons, to the increasing diffusion of information and communication technologies (ICTs). These changes are producing many modifications in the consumers’ behavior, as well as in the relationships they establish with companies, derived from the huge possibilities that ICTs offer. […]
In the literature on consumer-brand relationships, there are two concepts that determine a very intense link between them; i.e., brand love and consumer engagement. In this paper, a conceptual delimitation of these two key terms has been done.”
— Consumer-Brand Relationships under the Marketing 3.0 Paradigm: A Literature Review
Shifting nature of brands in an era of easy access to data: To survive, they mutate into being “lovable” identities. Or in some cases, hate-able ones that propel their masters to stardom…
No two people’s critical thinking filters agree on everything, yet folks want Facebook to build a universal one? Good luck with that. (7/14)
More to the point, though, the “fake news problem,” at its core, has nothing to do with facts at all. It’s about advertising. (8/14)
If a site can get you to click, that site has made its money by the time the page is done loading. (9/14)
Unless you can change that incentive, you cannot solve the “fake news” problem. It is a subset of the clickbait problem. (10/14)
Article doesn’t deliver what the headline promised? Too bad; those ads were done loading by the time you got a paragraph in. (11/14)
Of course, no social media company will recognise this. Their advertising bottom line obligates them not to. (12/14)
If you want to eliminate fake news, find business models that don’t rely on whoring users’ attention out to advertisers. (13/14)
I know finding new business models is hard. But your options are that, or drown in clickbait. Best of luck. (14/14)
— Meredith L. Patterson in a tweetstorm (TWITTER LINK)
A is for Apple, B is for Buy & Large, Soap is for Brain Washing.
“Another of Barratt’s gimmicks was to import half a million French centimes, imprint them with Pears’ name and introduce them into circulation. The ploy caused huge publicity and led to an act of Parliament to protect British currency.” Thomas J. Barratt, Wikipedia
You didn’t read that wrong. The ‘ father of modern advertising’ literally caused an act of Parliament to protect money from being defaced w/ ads. Soap ads. A century later we are still feeling soap ads infecting us with their memetic toxins.
Did you hear? P&G is going to run an ad campaign for downy targeting millennials. Meanwhile my FB feed is full of millennial moms bitching about how downy gives them rashes and is toxic…
I wondered. Why is this happening? If you believe Bernay’s theories on propaganda, and the modern psychological notion of advertising, this isn’t how things are supposed to be. In fact they weren’t like this until recently:
“The informational advantage of brands is hard to beat. And your advantage of scale can be an informational advantage. If I go to some remote place, I may see Wrigley chewing gum alongside Glotz’s chewing gum. Well, I know that Wrigley is a satisfactory product, whereas I don’t know anything about Glotz’s. So if one is $.40 and the other is $.30, am I going to take something I don’t know and put it in my mouth — which is a pretty personal place, after all — for a lousy dime? So, in effect, Wrigley, simply by being so well-known, has advantages of scale — what you might call an informational advantage.”
— A Dozen Things Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger Learned From See’s Candies
Personally, I don’t like it when people are restricted from information due to isolationist brand moats and social propaganda for the sake of a dime.
In branding, especially in our modern social marketing, the adage “There’s No Such Thing as Bad Publicity” is now basically a lie. In the modern information landscape, consumer product data is only a finger tip away.
It’s like marketing at P&G is trying to replicate Old Spice phenom by forcing it with ads/creators. This soap based brainwashing leaves a bad taste in your mouth and ruins the brand’s appeal. With pricing data only a click a way, it only makes people more aware of all that wasted money on ads programs.
What really bothers me about Tide is how it cost on par with fancy Seventh Generation brand of detergent… The fancy “hipster” stuff. Us stingy millennials see thru the Tide challenge “forced meme”.
Stuff like this article might as well be an anti-tide campaign. For the curious consumer looking for opinions, the first comment feels like an alt-brand sock-puppet.
A Vicious take-down of Tide:
“I loved the advent of the pods but after they phased out the coupons and it became ¢25–35 a laundry load (which makes it almost a dollar a day for laundry in my family of five) it just wasn’t worth it. Consumer reports gave the Kirkland pods from costco a similar rating and at ¢11 cents a much better deal. It doesn’t smell as nice but I’m not willing to pay double the money for some crazy chemicals that are psychologically messing with my head. Plus, costco treats its employees like real human beings not bathroom bacteria so I can buy for cheaper and from a company more deserving (not for a second am I buying the ‘chemials are more expensive line’ they charge as high as they can not the cost to make it. Case in point: Nike’s $200 shoes cost about $6 to make AND ship it to us status hungry America and since they pay the shoes salesman minimum wage…. that’s an unbelievable profit margin). P&G: facilitating your neighborhood’s drug addictions with brand loyalty!”
I’m allergic to most detergents/softeners. Break out in a rash up my arms and itch like crazy. So, in honor of Tide challenge that was echoing around YouTube, I might suggest trying All Laundry instead. And don’t bother with dryer-sheets. A big wad of aluminum foil or one of those plastic drier balls seems to do just fine.
You’ll never guess who makes Mr. Clean and is marketing to me on Twitter and YouTube endlessly on the back of Tide.
No wonder Procter & Gamble is the one being disrupted by Dollar Shave Club, due in part to costly gendered marketing. Go Unilever.
Millennial parenting practices that undermine advertising norms, in a nutshell: Threaten your children to wash out their brains with soap ads.
If you start to pay attention, you can see this trend everywhere. What demographic sees loyalty programs as anything more than a coupon anyway? Not millennials, that’s for sure.
“Amex also heavily advertises to convince the public that its cardholders are superior to those who dare use other kinds of plastic, sponsoring Taylor Swift music video apps and drafting Tina Fey to portray an adorably frazzled, Liz Lemon-like shopper in ads for its new Amex EveryDay credit card.
This formula has made the company tremendously profitable. Its return on equity, a measure of a bank’s profitability, was 28 percent in the second quarter, higher than that of all its card-issuing rivals. In May, Warren Buffett, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, the credit card company’s largest shareholder, reiterated his support for Chenault. “Amex is still a very, very special company,” he said, adding, “Ken has done a sensational job.”
But Amex is in a situation that’s becoming increasingly familiar to companies with formerly impervious brands, such as Procter & Gamble, Coca-Cola, and McDonald’s. For decades, they would charge extra for their products. Today their toothpaste, sodas, and burgers no longer have the same cachet. Worse for American Express and other credit card companies, technology is making the physical manifestation of their brand invisible. Who cares what card you have if you’re paying for your expensive meal through your smartphone’s digital wallet?” — How Bad Will It Get for American Express?
Those in favour say that advertising educates consumers about new products and services that can help them improve their lives. It also increases sales so that companies can produce things at lower costs and make things cheaper.
They say that advertising helps the economy and gives jobs to many people. Without advertising some free radio and TV channels wouldn’t be able to exist. Sporting and other events are sponsored by ads. Ticket prices would be higher without advertisements.
On the other side, critics say that consumers pay for advertising through higher product prices. They say that small companies sometimes have to close because they cannot compete with larger ones.
Through advertising, people sometimes buy products that they may not need and often cannot afford. This leads to a higher personal debt. It also leads to a throwaway society — goods are thrown away and more pollution and waste is produced.
— Pros and cons of advertising
Changing Advertising Norms
“When Henri Nestlé marketed his first “food for infants” in 1867, its earliest advertisements were nothing more than simple illustrations, such as a striking Alfons Mucha original depicting a cherubic baby and ethereal mother. The message was simple and subtext-free: This product exists, and you can feed it to your baby.
Today, infant formula is a $3 billion industry in the United States alone. And its commercials — like all contemporary ads for everything — are highly sophisticated tableaus of pandering to whatever insecurity and guilt the most recent focus groups have highlighted.”
— This Viral Formula Ad Absolves You for Using Formula: A century of advertising that’s gone straight for the new-mother jugular.
Why so many women fainted in the 1900s:
Corsets, arsnic, social custom and ‘hysteria cures’. It was the psychology dark ages:Anxiety of phalliocentric loss of control, It’s all in your head, or the fault of having a cold mother, Hysterics.
“hysteria really was the origin of what would become Freud’s psychoanalytical theory.” Sigmund Freud and hysteria: the etiology of psychoanalysis?
I wonder how many babies died because of advertisers targeting people with money
“They had money, and they wanted to spend it on making their houses cozy havens of domesticity and comfort.”
— Hidden Killers of the Victorian Home (YOUTUBE LINK)
I wonder if the odd situations at the turn of the last century might have been due to aggressive advertising. Interestingly, Freud’s nephew, Edward Bernays, was more astute about advertising. He literally wrote the book on propaganda…
“In theory, every citizen makes up his mind on public questions and matters of private conduct. In practice, if all men had to study for themselves the abstruse economic, political, and ethical data involved in every question, they would find it impossible to come to a conclusion about anything. We have voluntarily agreed to let an invisible government sift the data and high-spot the outstanding issues so that our field of choice shall be narrowed to practical proportions. From our leaders and the media they use to reach the public, we accept the evidence and the demarcation of issues bearing upon public questions; from some ethical teacher, be it a minister, a favorite essayist, or merely prevailing opinion, we accept a standardized code of social conduct to which we conform most of the time.
In theory, everybody buys the best and cheapest commodities offered him on the market. In practice, if every one went around pricing, and chemically testing before purchasing, the dozens of soaps or fabrics or brands of bread which are for sale, economic life would become hopelessly jammed. To avoid such confusion, society consents to have its choice narrowed to ideas and objects brought to its attention through propaganda of all kinds. There is consequently a vast and continuous effort going on to capture our minds in the interest of some policy or commodity or idea.”
― Edward L. Bernays, ‘ Propaganda’
The kinds of stuff influencing Bernay’s thoughts on propaganda can be seen if you look at history. See this example from the history of advertising wiki page.
But if you read closely, Bernay’s unique thoughts on the topic, specifically on the necessity of advertising, was really about feasibility of information transfer in networks.
He describes it as a necessary force due to limitations in the way information spread at the time. Yet today, information transfer in networks is speeding up due to social networks.
“Altruism cannot be learned without selfish rewards, but once learned it can perpetuate itself without them” — (TWITTER LINK)The Lagrangian
Perhaps these massive scale collaborative systems we use would not have been built w/out ads. But now built, I think it could be sustained without the shackles of the elite advertising dollar.
Maybe we don’t need these propaganda machines advertising all these products to us anymore?
I’m not the only one who’s been picking up on the changing nature of advertising. An illuminating one @KevinSimler (TWITTER LINK)’s exploration of complex nature of adverts and the various ways they infect our thoughts:
“Brands build trust over time, and not just trust in the quality of their product, but trust that they won’t change their brand messaging too sharply or too quickly.” Ads Don’t Work That Way
Also, I’m particularly fond of @maradydd (TWITTER LINK)’s dives into ways modern PR/mass social engineering methods are necessary due to systemic incentives:
“ We live in a world where individuals, acting in concert, have the power to make literally anything important, and what do we choose to make important? The things that rise above the noise floor of our baseline level of annoyance, the more unusual or appalling the better. Of course people are going to hijack that tendency. Welcome to social engineering, the infosec praxis in which you, your thought processes, and your habitual tendencies, not your silicon or your software, are the attack surface.” It’s Protein World, We Just Live In It
They both share an interest in deep thinking about the nature of incentives and the dynamics of social groups. Many of my ideas tend to fit well with what they write about. Many of my latest musings on twitter are directly inspired by some of their metaphorical framings of shapes and sand in their other works.
Growth for growths sake destroys the host.
“Cells of multi-cellular organisms have evolved mechanisms to maintain appropriate numbers of cells within tissues.” How cancer shapes evolution, and how evolution shapes cancer
The very mechanisms that support life, also destroy it when the value network is out of balance.
Life: a bubble in the ATP energy market.
Cancer as feedback loop’s gone amuck. This kills the ants.
Nature’s halting problem: “Once the insects begin looping, they will literally keep going in circles until they die”
How to create an ant spiral of death
“just steps into a gap at a random moment, turns and without intention, the Death Spiral begins.”
Circling Themselves To Death
“This is like what humans do with money. […]
I don’t think money or pheromones are bad.
I think walking around in circles until you die is bad.”
— Greg Slepak (TWITTER LINK)
Our cells are in a constant battle to cooperate or defect. Life itself is hinges on principles found in Game Theory.
“use game theory to demonstrate the complex set of traits that can promote the evolution of cooperation.” Cooperation emerges when groups are small and memories are long, study finds
Energy within infinite regress problem in cosmology. The “unmoved mover’ paradox.
Cancer: a mutation in the body’s cells. An unchecked modification to code in production.
Economics all the way down.
Cancer’s greed might have a weakness.
“Scientists have found that even a short-term shortage of ATP supply can be fatal for cancer cells because activation of a mitochondria-addressed cell death pathway.”
Cancer cell metabolism kills: Possible new therapies targeting energy supply of cancer cells?
“ But evolutionary dynamics can also lead to processes that are not wanted, such as cancer, because they oppose the survival interests of the organism. The somatic evolution of cancer is a consequence of our cells being individual replicators. Upon acquiring mutations, cells can revert to their primitive program of proliferation, competition for survival, and selection of the fittest.” Unwanted Evolution
Curing cancer with the common cold?
Using p53 to Fight Cancer
Mutations in p53 lead to unique cancer defence in low oxygen environment.
Cancer-resistant blind mole rat gets genome sequence
Not to be out done, elephants simply copy the normal gene 19 times to prevent malformed mutation.
Potential Mechanisms for Cancer Resistance in Elephants and Comparative Cellular Response to DNA Damage in Humans
Meanwhile, the lowly ant has decided to outsource the job of cancer apoptosis to baceria. Ant got no time fo that.
Leaf cutter ants inspire powerful new anti-cancer drugs
Even slime mold is doing it’s part to find the cure for cancer. It uses apoptosis to form its breeding stalks.
Dictyostelium discoideum: Use as a model organism
“Everyone fights cancer, all our lives long. From birth, our immune systems are hunting down and killing rogue cells. […]
And most of us can say the same thing, most of the time. We are all cancer survivors, until we’re not.” — Pieter Hintjens, ‘Fighting Cancer’
“In contrast to normal cells, the glucose-dependent tumor cells cannot use ketone bodies effectively for energy” Modified Atkins diet in advanced malignancies — final results of a safety and feasibility trial within the Veterans Affairs Pittsburgh Healthcare System
“… genomic mutations and DNA methylation patterns likely caused by tobacco smoke in 17 types of cancerous tumors.” Smoking-Linked Cancer Mutations Mapped
“We need to build on [each other’s] efforts rather than duplicate them.”
“We used to think this disease was an unfortunate, unpredictable event. After the genetic test was introduced, it became a predictable and avoidable adverse event. It changed practice.”
Genomic Medicine Beyond Borders
“like cancer, success is judged by the capability for rapid and infinite growth within a context of finite resources” We didn’t lose control — it was stolen
Paraphrasing an idea by deweaving the narrative and respinning it upon my own loom:
“ Media is broken. And we need to fix it. […]
We saw the feedback loops for publishing content to be a major problem, and we set out to build a new model. […]
But the greater challenge — changing the incentives that drive our consumption of media online — has become even more pressing. It’s time to double-down. […]
It’s simple. Corporate advertising budgets become the primary funders of our information providers. No matter how skilled or well-intentioned, ad-driven publishers are rewarded on their ability to capture attention and even, at times, to weave a particular corporate-driven narrative. Not to provide informed perspectives, be thorough, or even be factually correct. But to capture attention. As cheaply as possible. For a few fleeting seconds.
Click, click, scroll… […]
Let’s stop relying on ad buyers and social media echo chambers to determine what we put in our brains — which is just as important, or more so, than what we put in our bodies. […]
Shoot the monkey and win?
Replacing ads with btc micropayments on Facebook is a silly. Why would they want a dampener on the engine that causes their Network effects?
“ Facebook has all these users, why don’t they charge them?” … why do you think they have all those users in the first place?
I hate ads as much as the next internet citizen, but blindly replacing them with micropayments ignores the nuances of businesses models.
Think of Facebook as kind of a multiplayer game, you can’t just arbitrarily apply micro payments if the game’s not set up with that in mind
Should Facebook be looking for alternatives over current ad model? Certainly! But this is more complex than “just apply micropayments”.
A revenue-sharing model is even more of a joke. Think ad block arms race is bad? …Have you even heard about gold farming practices in wow?
Seriously though, if you can make money off of looking at ads…
I already know five services that would let me spin up automated ways of this. Can you imagine turking for ad views?
Imagine for a moment a world with Superfish, but for hijacking memaw’s web browser with a reskinned brave so that they can harvest btc.
Ransomware that requires you to set up a brave account and expects regular transactions to remote btc address.
Revenue sharing DRM that requires a camera to always be watching your face while browsing the web to verify you’re looking at the ads.
Do you think captchas are obnoxious? Revenue sharing ads makes this scary future almost an inevitability:
This already exists by the way.
Watch these ads for $0.10 BTC.
Shoot the monkey and win.
I’m already enduring ads that force me to shake the phone to insert charcoal into the grill. Head on apply directly to the forehead.
“not paying, you’re the product”: a gross simplification. Sometimes you just make them look good so they can sell snake oil on the side.
2017 is going to be fun as more and more orgs try to get in on the ad revenue game:
How can we sneak more ads in your face? By framing everything as “vaulable to users”
“Ad buyers can serve targeted ads to people on websites and in mobile apps, but access to the text fields in messaging apps has typically been off-limits. Emogi’s unique access to those text fields comes from the messaging apps, which get a cut of ad revenue from the brands.
In addition to its partnership with Kik, Emogi is in talks with a number of dating apps and other messaging apps. […] provide users a valuable branded experience within the messenger apps”
Branded Emojis Coming to Messaging Apps
Oh how I hate ads. Let Me Count The Ways!
How many annoying ads to I have to see before I start hating a medium?
Let’s find out…
This is why I stopped watching TV and have never voluntarily paid for cable or satellite. Because of this obnoxious trash, I’m a rare breed of millennial who’s never even owned a cord to cut.
So to me, seeing a Geico ad is a signal of the platform’s slow walk into irrelevance.
There’s only one person in the world who might hate them more than me:
“[@filminick created] ‘Every F*cking Geico Ad Played at Once.”
“to demonstrate the self-perpetuating evil of Geico’s digital advertising methods”
“And a frighteningly Orwellian production it is.”
If you got to http://www.berkshirehathaway.com/ there’s actually a Geico ad there, right in the middle.
Twitch is great — create an audience of people who care about you, and then regularly distract them with ads just long enough but not so much they get annoyed.
If I start seeing Geico ads on Twitch and Youtube, I’m going to start to seek out a new platform. @DiscoMelee (TWITTER LINK)’s model looks promising.
Why did amazon buy Twitch anyway? They aren’t selling merch/affiliate links thru it like I thought they were going to try.
I went to applebees, and they had a tablet flashing annoying ads at me to get me to pay for shitty games. The games only reminded me of how long the wait was for our cold food. What were they thinking?
Apparently I could pay for my food with the thing flashing annoying ads about crappy games that had micropayments? Wish it had spent time telling me that instead of attempting to get money from my card. #UXfail (TWITTER LINK)
I don’t eat at Applebee’s anymore. No one I know does anymore either.
Dear Google, Do You Hate Me?
Fuck. This. Ad. And all the other ones that Google is spreading like it.
Thats right, if you didn’t notice, there are literally Google ads on YouTube that are actually nothing but just screaming at you… Did I mention this is why I stopped watching TV (YOUTUBE LINK)?
I started blocking Google’s ads & am investigating ways to do so on mobile. I actually really like google, had all their ads white-listed before last month to try and support them. But they even started sharing those screaming videos via Twitter’s ad platform.
Oh yeah, and youtube red? “Hey,I know you haven’t actually subscribe to announcements from this channel but would you like to see there YouTube Red feed?” <- stop trying to force this on me.
I’m starting to think it’s a valid argument: that if I don’t want to watch the ads I shouldn’t watch the content…
Lenovo is at the top of my list of options, and from a repairability perspective (as a former IT tech), they are a joy to work on and have a great network.
However, Superfish is using a technology that lets them hijack SSL sessions to inject ads? Way to fail at trusted computing. Almost as bad as Comcast hijacking 404 pages and injecting it with search bullshit.
Don’t get me started on the crap-store they try to push down your neck with their touch screen models.
I probably won’t buy a Lenovo for my next laptop.
So, it me:
I’m working on a playlist of songs I find calming when my brain is screaming at me.
I totally want a hiss of a bottle opening, dramatic drumline of a circus, gasping crowds, and a screeching eagle.
_Also me: curls up in to a ball
_Minutes pass. I’m ok again. I unpause the ad: second half is Trumpets, someone saying “ow” in pain, clinking glasses, sipping, and sizzle of of a can opening.
One would figure a company with a wealth of user’s music tastes’ at fingertips, would learn how to pair calming ad w/ calming playlists. Seriously, for someone who enjoys music, this cacophony of noises is literally painful. Like acoustic startle response and misophonia levels of painful.
My friend bought me a subscription to Spotify, otherwise I’d be going back to pirated mp3s and my own ripped collection to avoid music ads.
Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck #puppymonkeybaby
Hey PepsiCo, have you ever heard of over marketing? Remember that time when every fucking commercial on YouTube was #puppymonkeybaby (TWITTER LINK). Like 6 times in 20 minutes levels of obnoxiousness for days on end? Have you ever wondered if there was such a thing as brand hatred? No? Seriously, if you’re reading this Pepsi, you should look into that idea. Because this commercial killed any interest I have in soda.
I’m not lying. Pepsi, I’m sorry, I love you, but I’m breaking up. Listen: I see you as having no respect for me or my attention and I actively resent your advertising campaigns. I have such a disgust reaction to your brand now that I’m literally returning Mountain Dew and other products from the parent company. In fact, one of my 2016 accomplishments was returning 3 bottles of dew that were bought for me by friends an family & exchanged them for other drinks.
This is coming from somebody who’s a walking advertisement for energy drinks. My wedding ring was an actual matching pair of No Fear hoodies me and my wife won together from the can tabs.
I love caffeine. People in my life literally associate me with your brand. Back when I had money, I once drank so much Dew that my poop even turned green. And yet, thanks to this obnoxious constant attention grabbing aggressive marketing campaign: I’m making a serious effort to never buy Mountain Dew again, and convincing others to do the the same.
Pepsi, you’re bad for me. Maybe I should thank you? All my friends say I might be better off for it.
“The point is you’re probably already onboard with the idea of consuming wet sugar with bubbles in it. So I’m not going to spend any more money on this. Nor am I going to pay a celebrity millions of dollars to tell you to drink what sugar with bubbles in it.
I don’t need to: You love it!”
— If Soda Commercials Were Honest (YOUTUBE LINK)
Oh yeah, and Coke? I have two words for you: “selfie bottle”… I’ll never be able to get that vision out of my head.
I spend unhealthy amount of time investigating network dynamics & deal flows that support cargo-cult ad revenue industry. In a world seemingly rife with fake-news, what can you do, except figure out why?
But this is one hell of a rabbit hole.
When Brands manipulate hive against best interests, they’re no longer information mutualists, but parasite jerks.
Not local advertising thru friends, but global brands manipulating swarm cognition via min-maxing toward sales.
The personas targeted by shady marketing and darkpatterns have the faces of my friends and family. I rage when I see them being targeted.
So that time when I suggested that Diogenes of Sinope was a hero of mine?
I didn’t mean I wanted to emulate his lifestyle choices.
“Diogenes begged for a living, sleeping in a large jar on its side in public. He meant for his life to be seen in the center of town, hoping that his example would inspire others, and bragged about his immunity to the weather, unlike someone used to comfort and fine living. Diogenes would walk barefoot in snow and roll in hot sand to toughen himself.
When asked if he was being too extreme, he replied that he was the lead singer of a chorus, who must sing louder than the others to give them the right note.
When asked why he begged for his food, Diogenes said it taught people. When asked what it taught them, he replied, “Generosity”.”
Greek Philosophy 8: Democritus & Diogenes
After having said all of this, having written an opus against advertising, I’d hate to advertise to you. And yet, I am left an an impasse…
I’d like to keep doing this : to keep creating and making meaning. I’ve got many more things I’d like to write about. I set up a Patreon a while back, and a little would go along way to helping me continue my research.
I may be a cynical fool, but I mean well. 🙇
When Life makes you a lemens…
Get mad, make lemen-aid, share with your friends.
No burning down houses* please.
Exported from Medium on July 10, 2018.
liberation through decentralization, through fracturing
dematerialization of communication: via design
design is the environment
you r interfering the person's narrative
design that embraces difference
suggesting what other worlds might look like
defining the proper noun; if you can design the word itself
creating the environment in which someone encounters your design (object)
one single shot: infinite scroll, infinite space
cuts: a bit janky
"ultrareality: freedom of movement"—ultrareality as a medium
camera takes the form of an omniscient entity, the camera is its own character; not as keen on observing as it is focusing on the thrill of it all. the story of an indestructable camera. removing the grid system; moving into curved planes, ever shifting planes
from a system of grids to a system of overlays
1:00:00 the ruins of the old world flying around you, at you at all times: quicksilver clip
how do we view the construction of legacy materials? people moving from books and print materials to ultrareality and cinema
viewer: from observer of reality to participant, protagonist, "creator" who plays with the rules and logic of these worlds
David Rudnick Q&A
hijacking symbols that have an existing narrative: detournement
design labs, ateliers. chef's table.
how do we use images? how do we construct language? truth and meaning through a process that no other can offer?
techniques to make sure that the work has a pure level of meaning specific to its context that even when ripped off, cant be wholly taken. the power of originality. — a way you can assert control as your work is distributed and circulated.
if you cant express yourself or be anticapitalist in your graphic design, then the field is in crisis. you must claim responsibility of how your messages are interpreted.
relationship between graphic design(ers) and AI: you need to be coming up with unique tools of your own expression that reflect your history, POV, that can engage an audience. they cannot replace memory, poetry, and the way we uniquely combine language to create expression.
AI as a tool for kinds of vision, outreach, discovery. that would be beyond the timescale of a normal individual—repetitive tasks. The world that you see, in terms of narrative, is made of other peoples' work. you can maintain a purer space of your own reflection and (visual) research, untainted, if you use an AI. to be more specific in the things that you look at, do research not as distractedly.
aesthetics of future: nostalgia is a paralyzing force; a lazy and dangerous tool to manipulate people's attention—they are stuck in fond memories of the past. Activating, then diverting—pushing into a parallel space—changing this narrative. Beware nostalgic points. we cannot keep recycling the past, returning to familiar tropes: we must be original. too much to easily summarize as one aesthetic.
black backgrounds: "darkcore," moment of encounter is on a screen. i print with light; the work sits on a void.
a book that critiques universalizing principles through a simple clean polished all (W)hite cover, absolute chaos inside
("skeuomorphic jeopardy" — from GS call — interface elements as players)
__ __ __ _ _
\ \/ /___ _ __ ___ / | __ _ __ ___ () __ ()__ _ __ ___
\ // _ \ '_ \ / _ | |_ / _ \ '_
_ \| | '_ \| / __| '_ _ \
/ \ / | | | () | _| _/ | | | | | | | | | __ \ | | | | |
/_/__|| ||_/|_| _|| || |||| |||_/| || ||
-=-=-=-= A POLITICS FOR ALIENATION =-=-=-=-=-=-=-= Laboria Cuboniks =-=-=-=
0x00 Ours is a world in vertigo. It is a world that swarms with
technological mediation, interlacing our daily lives with abstraction,
virtuality, and complexity. XF constructs a feminism adapted to these
realities: a feminism of unprecedented cunning, scale, and vision; a future
in which the realization of gender justice and feminist emancipation
contribute to a universalist politics assembled from the needs of every
human, cutting across race, ability, economic standing, and geographical
position. No more futureless repetition on the treadmill of capital, no more
submission to the drudgery of labour, productive and reproductive alike, no
more reification of the given masked as critique. Our future requires
depetrification. XF is not a bid for revolution, but a wager on the long
game of history, demanding imagination, dexterity and persistence.
0x01 XF seizes alienation as an impetus to generate new worlds. We are all
alienated -- but have we ever been otherwise? It is through, and not
despite, our alienated condition that we can free ourselves from the muck of
immediacy. Freedom is not a given -- and it's certainly not given by anything
'natural'. The construction of freedom involves not less but more
alienation; alienation is the labour of freedom's construction. Nothing
should be accepted as fixed, permanent, or 'given' -- neither material
conditions nor social forms. XF mutates, navigates and probes every horizon.
Anyone who's been deemed 'unnatural' in the face of reigning biological
norms, anyone who's experienced injustices wrought in the name of natural
order, will realize that the glorification of 'nature' has nothing to offer
us -- the queer and trans among us, the differently-abled, as well as those who
have suffered discrimination due to pregnancy or duties connected to
child-rearing. XF is vehemently anti-naturalist. Essentialist naturalism
reeks of theology -- the sooner it is exorcised, the better.
0x02 Why is there so little explicit, organized effort to repurpose
technologies for progressive gender political ends? XF seeks to
strategically deploy existing technologies to re-engineer the world. Serious
risks are built into these tools; they are prone to imbalance, abuse, and
exploitation of the weak. Rather than pretending to risk nothing, XF
advocates the necessary assembly of techno-political interfaces responsive
to these risks. Technology isn't inherently progressive. Its uses are fused
with culture in a positive feedback loop that makes linear sequencing,
prediction, and absolute caution impossible. Technoscientific innovation
must be linked to a collective theoretical and political thinking in which
women, queers, and the gender non-conforming play an unparalleled role.
0x03 The real emancipatory potential of technology remains unrealized. Fed
by the market, its rapid growth is offset by bloat, and elegant innovation
is surrendered to the buyer, whose stagnant world it decorates. Beyond the
noisy clutter of commodified cruft, the ultimate task lies in engineering
technologies to combat unequal access to reproductive and pharmacological
tools, environmental cataclysm, economic instability, as well as dangerous
forms of unpaid/underpaid labour. Gender inequality still characterizes the
fields in which our technologies are conceived, built, and legislated for,
while female workers in electronics (to name just one industry) perform some
of the worst paid, monotonous and debilitating labour. Such injustice
demands structural, machinic and ideological correction.
0x04 Xenofeminism is a rationalism. To claim that reason or rationality is
'by nature' a patriarchal enterprise is to concede defeat. It is true that
the canonical 'history of thought' is dominated by men, and it is male hands
we see throttling existing institutions of science and technology. But this
is precisely why feminism must be a rationalism -- because of this miserable
imbalance, and not despite it. There is no 'feminine' rationality, nor is
there a 'masculine' one. Science is not an expression but a suspension of
gender. If today it is dominated by masculine egos, then it is at odds with
itself -- and this contradiction can be leveraged. Reason, like information,
wants to be free, and patriarchy cannot give it freedom. Rationalism must
itself be a feminism. XF marks the point where these claims intersect in a
two-way dependency. It names reason as an engine of feminist emancipation,
and declares the right of everyone to speak as no one in particular.
0x05 The excess of modesty in feminist agendas of recent decades is not
proportionate to the monstrous complexity of our reality, a reality
crosshatched with fibre-optic cables, radio and microwaves, oil and gas
pipelines, aerial and shipping routes, and the unrelenting, simultaneous
execution of millions of communication protocols with every passing
millisecond. Systematic thinking and structural analysis have largely fallen
by the wayside in favour of admirable, but insufficient struggles, bound to
fixed localities and fragmented insurrections. Whilst capitalism is
understood as a complex and ever-expanding totality, many would-be emancipat-
tory anti-capitalist projects remain profoundly fearful of transitioning to
the universal, resisting big-picture speculative politics by condemning them
as necessarily oppressive vectors. Such a false guarantee treats universals
as absolute, generating a debilitating disjuncture between the thing we seek
to depose and the strategies we advance to depose it.
0x06 Global complexity opens us to urgent cognitive and ethical demands.
These are Promethean responsibilities that cannot pass unaddressed. Much of
twenty-first century feminism -- from the remnants of postmodern identity
politics to large swathes of contemporary ecofeminism -- struggles to
adequately address these challenges in a manner capable of producing
substantial and enduring change. Xenofeminism endeavours to face up to these
obligations as collective agents capable of transitioning between multiple
levels of political, material and conceptual organization.
0x07 We are adamantly synthetic, unsatisfied by analysis alone. XF urges
constructive oscillation between description and prescription to mobilize
the recursive potential of contemporary technologies upon gender, sexuality
and disparities of power. Given that there are a range of gendered
challenges specifically relating to life in a digital age -- from sexual
harassment via social media, to doxxing, privacy, and the protection of
online images -- the situation requires a feminism at ease with computation.
Today, it is imperative that we develop an ideological infrastructure that
both supports and facilitates feminist interventions within connective,
networked elements of the contemporary world. Xenofeminism is about more
than digital self-defence and freedom from patriarchal networks. We want to
cultivate the exercise of positive freedom -- freedom-to rather than simply
freedom-from -- and urge feminists to equip themselves with the skills to
redeploy existing technologies and invent novel cognitive and material tools
in the service of common ends.
0x08 The radical opportunities afforded by developing (and alienating) forms
of technological mediation should no longer be put to use in the exclusive
interests of capital, which, by design, only benefits the few. There are
incessantly proliferating tools to be annexed, and although no one can claim
their comprehensive accessibility, digital tools have never been more widely
available or more sensitive to appropriation than they are today. This is
not an elision of the fact that a large amount of the world's poor is
adversely affected by the expanding technological industry (from factory
workers labouring under abominable conditions to the Ghanaian villages that
have become a repository for the e-waste of the global powers) but an
explicit acknowledgement of these conditions as a target for elimination.
Just as the invention of the stock market was also the invention of the
crash, Xenofeminism knows that technological innovation must equally
anticipate its systemic condition responsively.
0x09 XF rejects illusion and melancholy as political inhibitors. Illusion,
as the blind presumption that the weak can prevail over the strong with no
strategic coordination, leads to unfulfilled promises and unmarshalled
drives. This is a politics that, in wanting so much, ends up building so
little. Without the labour of large-scale, collective social organisation,
declaring one's desire for global change is nothing more than wishful
thinking. On the other hand, melancholy -- so endemic to the left -- teaches
us that emancipation is an extinct species to be wept over and that blips of
negation are the best we can hope for. At its worst, such an attitude
generates nothing but political lassitude, and at its best, installs an
atmosphere of pervasive despair which too often degenerates into factionalism
and petty moralizing. The malady of melancholia only compounds political
inertia, and -- under the guise of being realistic -- relinquishes all
hope of calibrating the world otherwise. It is against such maladies that
0x0A We take politics that exclusively valorize the local in the guise of
subverting currents of global abstraction, to be insufficient. To secede
from or disavow capitalist machinery will not make it disappear. Likewise,
suggestions to pull the lever on the emergency brake of embedded velocities,
the call to slow down and scale back, is a possibility available only to the
few -- a violent particularity of exclusivity -- ultimately entailing catas-
trophe for the many. Refusing to think beyond the microcommunity, to foster
connections between fractured insurgencies, to consider how emancipatory
tactics can be scaled up for universal implementation, is to remain
satisfied with temporary and defensive gestures. XF is an affirmative
creature on the offensive, fiercely insisting on the possibility of
large-scale social change for all of our alien kin.
0x0B A sense of the world's volatility and artificiality seems to have faded
from contemporary queer and feminist politics, in favour of a plural but
static constellation of gender identities, in whose bleak light equations of
the good and the natural are stubbornly restored. While having (perhaps)
admirably expanded thresholds of 'tolerance', too often we are told to seek
solace in unfreedom, staking claims on being 'born' this way, as if offering
an excuse with nature's blessing. All the while, the heteronormative centre
chugs on. XF challenges this centrifugal referent, knowing full well that
sex and gender are exemplary of the fulcrum between norm and fact, between
freedom and compulsion. To tilt the fulcrum in the direction of nature is a
defensive concession at best, and a retreat from what makes trans and queer
politics more than just a lobby: that it is an arduous assertion of freedom
against an order that seemed immutable. Like every myth of the given, a
stable foundation is fabulated for a real world of chaos, violence, and
doubt. The 'given' is sequestered into the private realm as a certainty,
whilst retreating on fronts of public consequences. When the possibility of
transition became real and known, the tomb under Nature's shrine cracked,
and new histories -- bristling with futures -- escaped the old order of 'sex'.
The disciplinary grid of gender is in no small part an attempt to mend that
shattered foundation, and tame the lives that escaped it. The time has now
come to tear down this shrine entirely, and not bow down before it in a
piteous apology for what little autonomy has been won.
0x0C If 'cyberspace' once offered the promise of escaping the strictures of
essentialist identity categories, the climate of contemporary social media
has swung forcefully in the other direction, and has become a theatre where
these prostrations to identity are performed. With these curatorial
practices come puritanical rituals of moral maintenance, and these stages
are too often overrun with the disavowed pleasures of accusation, shaming,
and denunciation. Valuable platforms for connection, organization, and
skill-sharing become clogged with obstacles to productive debate positioned
as if they are debate. These puritanical politics of shame -- which fetishize
oppression as if it were a blessing, and cloud the waters in moralistic
frenzies -- leave us cold. We want neither clean hands nor beautiful souls,
neither virtue nor terror. We want superior forms of corruption.
0x0D What this shows is that the task of engineering platforms for social
emancipation and organization cannot ignore the cultural and semiotic
mutations these platforms afford. What requires reengineering are the
memetic parasites arousing and coordinating behaviours in ways occluded by
their hosts' self-image; failing this, memes like 'anonymity', 'ethics',
'social justice' and 'privilege-checking' host social dynamisms at odds with
the often-commendable intentions with which they're taken up. The task of
collective self-mastery requires a hyperstitional manipulation of desire's
puppet-strings, and deployment of semiotic operators over a terrain of
highly networked cultural systems. The will will always be corrupted by the
memes in which it traffics, but nothing prevents us from instrumentalizing
this fact, and calibrating it in view of the ends it desires.
0x0E Xenofeminism is gender-abolitionist. 'Gender abolitionism' is not code
for the eradication of what are currently considered 'gendered' traits from
the human population. Under patriarchy, such a project could only spell
disaster -- the notion of what is 'gendered' sticks disproportionately to the
feminine. But even if this balance were redressed, we have no interest in
seeing the sexuate diversity of the world reduced. Let a hundred sexes
bloom! 'Gender abolitionism' is shorthand for the ambition to construct a
society where traits currently assembled under the rubric of gender, no
longer furnish a grid for the asymmetric operation of power. 'Race
abolitionism' expands into a similar formula -- that the struggle must continue
until currently racialized characteristics are no more a basis of
discrimination than than the color of one's eyes. Ultimately, every
emancipatory abolitionism must incline towards the horizon of class
abolitionism, since it is in capitalism where we encounter oppression in its
transparent, denaturalized form: you're not exploited or oppressed because
you are a wage labourer or poor; you are a labourer or poor because you are
0x0F Xenofeminism understands that the viability of emancipatory
abolitionist projects -- the abolition of class, gender, and race -- hinges on a
profound reworking of the universal. The universal must be grasped as
generic, which is to say, intersectional. Intersectionality is not the
morcellation of collectives into a static fuzz of cross-referenced
identities, but a political orientation that slices through every
particular, refusing the crass pigeonholing of bodies. This is not a
universal that can be imposed from above, but built from the bottom up --
or, better, laterally, opening new lines of transit across an uneven
landscape. This non-absolute, generic universality must guard against the
facile tendency of conflation with bloated, unmarked particulars -- namely
Eurocentric universalism -- whereby the male is mistaken for the sexless, the
white for raceless, the cis for the real, and so on. Absent such a
universal, the abolition of class will remain a bourgeois fantasy, the
abolition of race will remain a tacit white-supremacism, and the abolition
of gender will remain a thinly veiled misogyny, even -- especially -- when
prosecuted by avowed feminists themselves. (The absurd and reckless
spectacle of so many self-proclaimed 'gender abolitionists'' campaign
against trans women is proof enough of this. )
0x10 From the postmoderns, we have learnt to burn the facades of the false
universal and dispel such confusions; from the moderns, we have learnt to
sift new universals from the ashes of the false. Xenofeminism seeks to
construct a coalitional politics, a politics without the infection of
purity. Wielding the universal requires thoughtful qualification and precise
self-reflection so as to become a ready-to-hand tool for multiple political
bodies and something that can be appropriated against the numerous
oppressions that transect with gender and sexuality. The universal is no
blueprint, and rather than dictate its uses in advance, we propose XF as a
platform. The very process of construction is therefore understood to be a
negentropic, iterative, and continual refashioning. Xenofeminism seeks to be
a mutable architecture that, like open source software, remains available
for perpetual modification and enhancement following the navigational
impulse of militant ethical reasoning. Open, however, does not mean
undirected. The most durable systems in the world owe their stability to the
way they train order to emerge as an 'invisible hand' from apparent
spontaneity; or exploit the inertia of investment and sedimentation. We
should not hesitate to learn from our adversaries or the successes and
failures of history. With this in mind, XF seeks ways to seed an order that
is equitable and just, injecting it into the geometry of freedoms these
0x11 Our lot is cast with technoscience, where nothing is so sacred that it
cannot be reengineered and transformed so as to widen our aperture of
freedom, extending to gender and the human. To say that nothing is sacred,
that nothing is transcendent or protected from the will to know, to tinker
and to hack, is to say that nothing is supernatural. 'Nature' -- understood
here, as the unbounded arena of science -- is all there is. And so, in tearing
down melancholy and illusion; the unambitious and the non-scaleable; the
libidinized puritanism of certain online cultures, and Nature as an
un-remakeable given, we find that our normative anti-naturalism has pushed
us towards an unflinching ontological naturalism. There is nothing, we
claim, that cannot be studied scientifically and manipulated
0x12 This does not mean that the distinction between the ontological and the
normative, between fact and value, is simply cut and dried. The vectors of
normative anti-naturalism and ontological naturalism span many ambivalent
battlefields. The project of untangling what ought to be from what is, of
dissociating freedom from fact, will from knowledge, is, indeed, an infinite
task. There are many lacunae where desire confronts us with the brutality of
fact, where beauty is indissociable from truth. Poetry, sex, technology and
pain are incandescent with this tension we have traced. But give up on the
task of revision, release the reins and slacken that tension, and these
filaments instantly dim.
0x13 The potential of early, text-based internet culture for countering
repressive gender regimes, generating solidarity among marginalised groups,
and creating new spaces for experimentation that ignited cyberfeminism in
the nineties has clearly waned in the twenty-first century. The dominance of
the visual in today's online interfaces has reinstated familiar modes of
identity policing, power relations and gender norms in self-representation.
But this does not mean that cyberfeminist sensibilities belong to the past.
Sorting the subversive possibilities from the oppressive ones latent in
today's web requires a feminism sensitive to the insidious return of old
power structures, yet savvy enough to know how to exploit the potential.
Digital technologies are not separable from the material realities that
underwrite them; they are connected so that each can be used to alter the
other towards different ends. Rather than arguing for the primacy of the
virtual over the material, or the material over the virtual, xenofeminism
grasps points of power and powerlessness in both, to unfold this knowledge
as effective interventions in our jointly composed reality.
0x14 Intervention in more obviously material hegemonies is just as crucial
as intervention in digital and cultural ones. Changes to the built
environment harbour some of the most significant possibilities in the
reconfiguration of the horizons of women and queers. As the embodiment of
ideological constellations, the production of space and the decisions we
make for its organization are ultimately articulations about 'us' and
reciprocally, how a 'we' can be articulated. With the potential to
foreclose, restrict, or open up future social conditions, xenofeminists must
become attuned to the language of architecture as a vocabulary for
collective choreo-graphy -- the coordinated writing of space.
0x15 From the street to the home, domestic space too must not escape our
tentacles. So profoundly ingrained, domestic space has been deemed
impossible to disembed, where the home as norm has been conflated with home
as fact, as an un-remakeable given. Stultifying 'domestic realism' has no
home on our horizon. Let us set sights on augmented homes of shared
laboratories, of communal media and technical facilities. The home is ripe
for spatial transformation as an integral component in any process of
feminist futurity. But this cannot stop at the garden gates. We see too well
that reinventions of family structure and domestic life are currently only
possible at the cost of either withdrawing from the economic sphere -- the way
of the commune -- or bearing its burdens manyfold -- the way of the single parent.
If we want to break the inertia that has kept the moribund figure of the
nuclear family unit in place, which has stubbornly worked to isolate women
from the public sphere, and men from the lives of their children, while
penalizing those who stray from it, we must overhaul the material
infrastructure and break the economic cycles that lock it in place. The task
before us is twofold, and our vision necessarily stereoscopic: we must
engineer an economy that liberates reproductive labour and family life,
while building models of familiality free from the deadening grind of wage
0x16 From the home to the body, the articulation of a proactive politics for
biotechnical intervention and hormones presses. Hormones hack into gender
systems possessing political scope extending beyond the aesthetic
calibration of individual bodies. Thought structurally, the distribution of
hormones -- who or what this distribution prioritizes or pathologizes -- is of
paramount import. The rise of the internet and the hydra of black market
pharmacies it let loose -- together with a publicly accessible archive of
endocrinological knowhow -- was instrumental in wresting control of the
hormonal economy away from 'gatekeeping' institutions seeking to mitigate
threats to established distributions of the sexual. To trade in the rule of
bureaucrats for the market is, however, not a victory in itself. These tides
need to rise higher. We ask whether the idiom of 'gender hacking' is
extensible into a long-range strategy, a strategy for wetware akin to what
hacker culture has already done for software -- constructing an entire universe
of free and open source platforms that is the closest thing to a practicable
communism many of us have ever seen. Without the foolhardy endangerment of
lives, can we stitch together the embryonic promises held before us by
pharmaceutical 3D printing ('Reactionware'), grassroots telemedical abortion
clinics, gender hacktivist and DIY-HRT forums, and so on, to assemble a
platform for free and open source medicine?
0x17 From the global to the local, from the cloud to our bodies,
xenofeminism avows the responsibility in constructing new institutions of
technomaterialist hegemonic proportions. Like engineers who must conceive of
a total structure as well as the molecular parts from which it is
constructed, XF emphasises the importance of the mesopolitical sphere
against the limited effectiveness of local gestures, creation of autonomous
zones, and sheer horizontalism, just as it stands against transcendent, or
top-down impositions of values and norms. The mesopolitical arena of
xenofeminism's universalist ambitions comprehends itself as a mobile and
intricate network of transits between these polarities. As pragmatists, we
invite contamination as a mutational driver between such frontiers.
0x18 XF asserts that adapting our behaviour for an era of Promethean
complexity is a labour requiring patience, but a ferocious patience at odds
with 'waiting'. Calibrating a political hegemony or insurgent memeplex not
only implies the creation of material infra-structures to make the values it
articulates explicit, but places demands on us as subjects. How are we to
become hosts of this new world? How do we build a better semiotic
parasite -- one that arouses the desires we want to desire, that orchestrates
not an autophagic orgy of indignity or rage, but an emancipatory and
egalitarian community buttressed by new forms of unselfish solidarity and
0x19 Is xenofeminism a programme? Not if this means anything so crude as a
recipe, or a single-purpose tool by which a determinate problem is solved.
We prefer to think like the schemer or lisper, who seeks to construct a new
language in which the problem at hand is immersed, so that solutions for it,
and for any number of related problems, might unfurl with ease. Xenofeminism
is a platform, an incipient ambition to construct a new language for sexual
politics -- a language that seizes its own methods as materials to be reworked,
and incrementally bootstraps itself into existence. We understand that the
problems we face are systemic and interlocking, and that any chance of
global success depends on infecting myriad skills and contexts with the
logic of XF. Ours is a transformation of seeping, directed subsumption
rather than rapid overthrow; it is a transformation of deliberate
construction, seeking to submerge the white-supremacist capitalist
patriarchy in a sea of procedures that soften its shell and dismantle its
defenses, so as to build a new world from the scraps.
0x1A Xenofeminism indexes the desire to construct an alien future with a
triumphant X on a mobile map. This X does not mark a destination. It is the
insertion of a topological-keyframe for the formation of a new logic. In
affirming a future untethered to the repetition of the present, we militate
for ampliative capacities, for spaces of freedom with a richer geometry than
the aisle, the assembly line, and the feed. We need new affordances of
perception and action unblinkered by naturalised identities. In the name of
feminism, 'Nature' shall no longer be a refuge of injustice, or a basis for
any political justification whatsoever!
If nature is unjust, change nature!