Showing all posts tagged #adfree2016:


Food for Thought: 2016-04-18

Posted on April 18th, 2016

The New Inquiry ponders the “viral virus" and whether society benefits "from a world in which everyone is anxious about having anxiety". Your first SMBC of this post: In TV and movies, it is a common trope to track someone to an exact location using only their IP address, often even to a specific spot in a specific room! Naturally, you are skeptical of that, as you should be. This excellent story shows some of the really interesting things that happen with IP-to-physical-address mapping at...

#AdFree2016: Dropping Medium

Posted on April 7th, 2016

In 2016, I want to see if I can use the Internet as if it is not powered by ads. For other posts in the series, click here. Medium is making two changes to earn revenue. One of them is great: "We are launching with a limited number of publications on Medium who will offer members-only content and other perks to readers, in exchange for a monthly membership fee paid directly to the publication." Excellent! This is an honest model for earning money and for serving customers. However, they h...

Food for Thought: 2016-04-01

Posted on April 1st, 2016

No Funnies Edition Another winner from The Baffler. It hits so many sweet spots for me, such as quoting Jacques Ellul and criticizing advertising, propaganda, and this terrible upcoming US presidential election. The ethical thing to do when you have a security vulnerability is to help the people responsible for the vulnerability to fix it. Often, it is instead hidden and weaponized, commoditized, and used against specific targets. However, during that period, non-targets with the same softwa...

#AdFree2016: Hot Takes

Posted on March 30th, 2016

I mentioned in my “Why?" post that one of the consequences of a ad-fueled Internet is that it affects our attention and the quality and nuance of our discourse. This is most evident in things in various types of clickbait, like listicles and hot takes. There is an essay on the problems of hot takes over at Quartz. While I think they hit on the advertising-fueled modeled of publishing, I (naturally) don’t think they spent enough time there, and instead went on to diagnose the trend as a gro...

#AdFree2016: More Malvertising

Posted on March 21st, 2016

I have spoken about the problems of malvertising before, both here and here. Ars Techinca has recently reported on a spate of malvertising: Mainstream websites, including those published by The New York Times, the BBC, MSN, and AOL, are falling victim to a new rash of malicious ads that attempt to surreptitiously install crypto ransomware and other malware on the computers of unsuspecting visitors, security firms warned.

#AdFree2016: Recent Articles

Posted on March 14th, 2016

In 2016, I want to see if I can use the Internet as if it is not powered by ads. For other posts in the series, click here. The folks at Five Filters recommend blocking ads and reply to comments to say “there are no acceptable ads". Over at The Conversation, they look at the current status of alternate models for paying for journalism.

Food for Thought: 2016-03-07

Posted on March 7th, 2016

When you spend a lot of your political efforts trying to scare people, they tend to get scared. Scared people tend to not be great long-term thinkers, and often sacrifice their values in the name of “safety and security". Read American Authoritarianism. Of course, this does not give a pass to the American authoritarian left, either, who have also spent political capital to incite fear and hate, but usually towards different (more “internal") targets. What Makes Good Teams? Well, looks like...

#AdFree2016: "You can engage with the ads just as you would any other content."

Posted on February 11th, 2016

In 2016, I want to see if I can use the Internet as if it is not powered by ads. For other posts in the series, click here. Quartz has a new app. It’s a clever little app that lets you skip or dig deeper on various news headlines. They are excited to tell us about one of the great features: "Advertising is integrated with the rest of the app beautifully, unobtrusively, and in parallel with the editorial experience. You can engage with the ads just as you would any other content." Anybody ...

#AdFree2016: “lead gens"

Posted on February 1st, 2016

In 2016, I want to see if I can use the Internet as if it is not powered by ads. For other posts in the series, click here. The New York Times has a great story on lead gens. Lead gens use the advertising ecosystem to flood search results with ads for fake businesses that subcontract your service requests to contractors. The lead gens give low estimates and use contractors that then show up and try to get as much money as possible. This is all made possible by, and driven by, the auto...

#AdFree2016: Why?

Posted on February 1st, 2016

In 2016, I want to see if I can use the Internet as if it is not powered by ads. For other posts in the series, click here. Several people have asked me something along the lines of “hey, why don’t you just not click on the ads, and work on not being affected by them?" So here are is the (unsatisfactory, I’m sure) answer: I don’t ever purposefully click on ads, and I do work on not being (positively) affected by ads. But, the more complete answer is that this is a surface question, a...

Todd Grotenhuis

Professionally an Information Security Specialist, Politically an Abolitionist, Theologically an Anabaptist