It seems all the cool kids are critiquing and/or getting rid of Google ads, but I'm holding out. I like the idea of targetted advertising, as it promises to add value to, rather than distract from content. For example, if I'm reading about a used Honda for sale, I would appreciate some links to companies selling related products, such as the used Honda parts ads I currently see on my Honda sale post (since sold). On the other side, of course, I like reducing my website expenses.

Shelley apparently had a problem with oil rig ads showing up in her post opposing drilling in ANWR. I only wish my ads worked so well. Too many of my posts display ads for weblog tools. The navigational text on every page seems to be overpowering the actual content in Google's topic-determination algorhythm. I'm going to revamp my weblog so that post titles are more prominantly part of the URL, and descriptions are more descriptive. If this doesn't make my ads more relevant, I'll consider getting rid of them. But I'm defining relevancy liberally.

I don't mind when pro-Bush ads show up in my anti-Bush posts. That's related, if ironically so. I have a faith that knowledge is ultimately good. That's why I regularly read authors with whom I regularly disagree. If I'm interested in an issue, I'm also interested in dissenting opinions on that issue. So this doesn't bother me as it apparently does others.

Nor do I think the internet is succeptable to the same corruption as the real world, as Jonathon implies when he writes I can hardly bear to watch as the Talleyrands corrupt something that was, for a while, magical. In the real world the corrupt have the power to change the rules for everyone else. Talleyrand, for example, used his power working under Napoleon to kill people. But the internet's structure makes analogous activities impossible. Not only could you not possibly kill me via the internet, but you can't even make me read something I find uninteresting. Every online transaction requires consent by everyone involved. If I don't want you reading my website, I can tell my server to stop responding to requests from you (so long as I can identify you). That's what makes AFP's lawsuit against Google ridiculous.

tornado

Likewise, if you don't want to see my ads, you can install a Greasemonkey script to block these ads, as Jonathon did. The only problem is that those who, like me, find the ads occassionally valuable don't currently have the option of adding them where they don't exist. So we are losing what to us is useful functionality when these ads are taken away. But I'm not about to tell, or even ask, website owners to add Google ads just to make me happy. Why would I, when I can do it myself?

I made my first Greasemonkey script, Add Google Ads, which adds Google ads to the top of every page (requires Firefox and Greasemonkey). For the curious, Jonathon's anti-Google ad post has Google ads for "Free Instant Ordination" and "Abbott Church Goods," while Shelley's has ads for "Directional Drilling" and "Rotary Steerable Tools." Hmm ... maybe this isn't as useful as I had thought it would be.

As they say, it don't take weather.com to see which way the wind blows. But what makes the internet magical for me is all the counter-currents. You can remove ads from my site, I can add ads to yours, and we can all be happy in this tornado.

 

Gabe writes:

Before we got to the final cordon of police surrounding us, we passed two young men in business suits. One man gave me his business card that read, "50% OFF: Mobile Protest Area (for 30 minutes, $5 for additional 30 minutes): EXERCISE YOUR RIGHT TO FREE SPEECH AT 1/2 THE COST: FREE ANTI-ESTABLISHMENT PICKET SIGN RENTAL WITH THIS COUPON (or $3 for 30 minutes) -- Kids in FREE with Paying Adult -- [then in very small font] -- brought to you by Clear Channel.??" Then the other one produced a black box and pointed it at my head and took a Polaroid of my face and held it out to me shouting: "Commemorate your time here at this anti-establishment protest! Yours for only 8 dollars!"

I missed those guys. Probably around the same time I was reading a sign near the Libertarian demonstrator table. The sign had a phone number: "1-800-ELECTUS." I commented on how desperate that phone number seemed - no issues at all, just "elect us." Then we crossed the street to get a gander at the counter-demonstrators. When I saw the Libertarian counter-demonstrators, I felt sorry for the Libertarian Party, protesting against itself.

My favorite sign of the day was an outline of America with the words "Free Speech Zone" printed over it. As I was being pushed by a police horse into a crowd of people who weren't moving, I asked the officer standing next to me where exactly I was to go. He said "on the curb." I said "but the curb is full of people." He said "I know." I guess that's the bright side of the gradual restriction of free speech in America: the curb is always full of people, and the police know.