Reflections on how the sale of identities to advertisers has molded our whole conception of online interaction – and how the “subprime attention bubble” may be nearer to collapse than we think.
Some snippets (emphases added):
Social media is no different. The need to create a liquid market of human attention influences the architecture of the web. Social interactions between people are mediated by structured tags such as “like” and “favorite” because these render sentiment easy to measure. We’ve lived for so long in an online social universe built for advertising that it is difficult to imagine what an alternative might look like.
In this sense, advertising is complicit in restricting the grammar of social interaction online… The programmatic advertising model does more than simply enforce a certain kind of product design. We have been taught how to interact with other people online by platforms built to buy and sell our attention.
There is, therefore, a strong ethical imperative to hope for the collapse of the attention economy.
So how might that happen?
First, the value of the attention packaged by online advertising is declining. Industry data clearly indicates that online advertising is increasingly ignored—or actively resisted—by the public at large. Second, the attention ads do receive is increasingly garbage—the product of a massive, fraudulent economy of click farms designed to extract money from advertisers. In short, as many in the industry certainly know, the bottom is falling out even as prices are pushed higher and higher.
Eventually, the bubble will pop. And there is good reason to think that this will happen sooner than we expect.
(Via the Prufrock newsletter)