Because that's what you're probably looking at online. Puppies, right?
Look, we've all done things that we're not proud of. Luckily for most of us, our shameful act hasn't been developed into a multi-million dollar marketing technique that pisses off countless Internet users across the world every day. (Though, if someone can figure out a way to make money from me drinking a thermos full of Ramen noodles spiked with Southern Comfort on a city bus at 3 am, I'm willing to talk.)
While writing code for Tripod.com back in the mid-'90s, Ethan Zuckerman was tasked with figuring out a way to allow advertisers to get their message out to consumers, but without having to splash the name of their brand name across the same web page on which some porn actor was splashing something else. And that's when an idea popped-up in his head, so to speak. And thus, the pop-up ad was born.
"It was a way to associate an ad with a user's page without putting it directly on the page, which advertisers worried would imply an association between their brand and the page's content," Zuckerman wrote in the new issue of The Atlantic. "I'm sorry. Our intentions were good."
I guess it's nice to hear him say that, but I'm sure that the people who created the atomic bomb or auto-tune would also say the same thing. What is it they say about good intentions and the road to hell and something or other about paving? I can't remember at the moment, but I do know that an apology does not take back the years of havoc wreaked.
For his part, at least, Zuckerman is trying to right his wrongs. He's currently the director of MIT's Center for Civic Media and principal research scientist at the MIT Media Lab. One of the things he's trying to do is help the Internet move past an ad-supported system and into one which gives "micropayments" directly to people who are producing content. Not sure how you'd prompt people to make those "micropayments," though.
Maybe some kind of a small box could appear unbidden in front of whatever you're looking at online to remind you every now and then. Just brainstorming.
(by Dennis DiClaudio)