An Advertising Dystopia

Today it’s getting harder and harder to escape advertising, remember when you could watch a video on any site without watching a video ad first? Modern corporate propoganda has become a finely tuned art of delivering a product that you’re more likely to want, and it could get worse. Below I’ll describe a few technologies that are all ceratainly within the realm of possibility, but hopefully, will never become a reality.

Products that are constantly listening and automatically forward reviews to their manufacturer on certain spoken keywords. This stream would be very easy to filter, bolstering a product’s rating. Posted reviews are in a converted readable format as well as their original audio format.

Eye glasses that superimpose advertising on whatever you look at. Of course you could always take the glasses off but then you couldn’t see.

Listening tables at resturants that adapt the adertising around or on the table itself to your conversation. This would ensure constatnly relevant advertising. The resturant of course gets a cut of the ad revenue.

Bar glasses that detect when the cup is empty and then make a recommendation on either another drink or to stop drinking. This recommendation could be intelligently made by a sensitive breathalizer in the glass, or a connection to a sensor in what you’re sitting that gets your weight and calculates BAC on the number of drinks you’ve had.

The same weight sensors in a resturant or bar could detect the customer’s overall health, gender, and age and direct ads based on those readings.

In case you hadn’t noticed, everyone of these ideas also violates privacy in many ways. If you are uncomfortable with thse ideas I recommend you give some thought to the ad stream just to the left of your Facebook timeline or Google Searches which have been curated based on your statuses, searches, and the ‘likes’ of you and your friends. I don’t think any of these ideas will ever manifest in real life, but in some form or another, they already have.

The Big Flaw in Modern Mobile Design

What’s the point of product design if everyone is just going to put the device in a case? A case rarely improves the user experience and instead simply provides the user with the reassurance that if they accidentally drop their device it will be alright. Not to mention the larger pocket fingerprint. Cases usually don’t seem to bother people once they’re on too, this is only a good measure of how important software, operating system, and software ecosystem are over hardware design.

A non-durable device, no matter how sleek, provides a sub-par user experience due to its fragility, or rather the feeling of fragility. There are devices out there that are the epitome of this, devices that make me 100x more careful when handling. So much so that I am constantly focusing on making sure the device is secure in my hand, rather than the experience the product has to offer.

The best device should feel not only feel durable but it must live up to that feeling at the same time. It should feel herculean, it should instill the same level of confidence we have in the software on the phone, essentially, it shouldn’t fail if we make a mistake. The phone case industry today is a testament that we are not confident in the structural (let alone aesthetic) integrity of our phones. There is certainly glass that can take the impact of a drop, there are also materials and practices that can make a device withstand said drop. Why aren’t they both in a product in my hand?

Returning to Facebook

About a year ago I decided to leave Facebook for three primary reasons.

  • Privacy issues.
  • I was getting less out of the network than I was putting in.
  • Trivializing human interaction.

Through the month of October and November I’m going to re-explore those points. Perhaps the way I feel about them will have changed. While I don’t think I’ll ever fully come to terms with their privacy settings and policies, it’s hard to remain critical of a product I haven’t tried in a year.

Around last year, I felt like I was posting into a black hole; content and statuses in, nothing out; nothing about it felt social. I was also in immediate contact with many of my friends on a day to day basis. Today those friends are scattered across the country and globe. I return to Facebook to give their mission statement a second chance.

…give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected.

Sharing is not what concerns me, and my Twitter feed is pretty open. It’s that I’ve been feeling disconnected, let’s see if/how/why or why not Facebook alleviates that.