Whose Fault is the Bandwidth Expended Over Ads?

Subject: Whose Fault is the Bandwidth Expended Over Ads?
From: John Gear <catalyst -at- PACIFIER -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 21 Feb 1995 20:20:00 PST

>Every time there's an advertisement, people on the list spend more
>bandwidth complaining about the ad and arguing about whether advertising
>should be allowed, or under what circumstances, or what constitutes
>"good" advertising than the original ad EVER took.

This sounds something like the arguments over people playing loud music in a
small office. When a dispute erupts, these people will often say that
they're just trying to get some work done and it's the folks who complain
who are creating all the disruption and wasting everyone's time.

Which is kind of like people saying "The environmentalists' plan for saving
the salmon will cost $XX billion" or "City workers have spent $XX thousand
cleaning up graffiti."
These phrasings assign the responsibility for the cost to the victims rather
than to those destroying the species or defacing the common holdings.

(Different formulations that assign the costs to the agent(s) creating the
problem instead of to those responding to it might be

"Operating the hydroelectric dams without driving the salmon extinct costs
$XX billion more than the present operating plan," or
"Vandals have cost the city more than $XX in graffiti removal costs.")

No one would waste bandwidth responding and posting about ads if they would
go away if ignored. But ignoring them only causes them to proliferate.
It's the people who *post* ads who are driving the problem and who have the
solution in their hands.
Before deciding that those of us resisting advertising are just
hypersensitive, read

"Telecommunications, Mass Media, and Democracy: The battle for control of
U.S. broadcasting" by Robert W. McChesney, Oxford University Press, 1993
(ISBN 0-19-507174-3)

This is a landmark work explaining just how control of the new information
revolution tool of the time (radio) got hijacked by private agencies (fueled
by advertising revenue). It traces how a system that was supposed to be the
new tool for democratic participation and enlightenment became instead a
system for selling soap.

Here on the net we are almost certainly condemned to repeat this sad
experience if we do not learn from it. All of the same interests are
represented, all the same arguments are being heard. The only thing with
the potential to change the result is our insistence that we don't need or
want another telecommunications system where the people are the product
being delivered up to the advertisers.

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