Content providers vs their audience, in two acts

or … It’s always been a struggle for control

Act I


Time: 1980s
Place: TV

Network
I want you to sit still and watch these commercials.
Viewer
When the commercials come on, I get up to go to the kitchen or washroom.
Network
I’m making the commercials louder so that you’ll still hear them.
Viewer
I just bought a new remote with a mute button.
Network
I’m grouping commercials more randomly, so that you won’t know how long you can leave the room without missing something
Viewer
Have I shown you my new VCR, with pause and fast-forward?
Network
If you fast-forward through commercials, there will be no more TV in 10 years. You’ll be sorry then.

Act II


Time: 2010s
Place: the Web

Publisher
You must always start on our home page and navigate from there. We want you to see the photo of our CEO in a hard hat patronisingly glad-handing workers before you get the information you want.
User
I’m bookmarking the pages I find useful and deep-linking to them. And your CEO is a twit.
Publisher
Ha! We’re blocking deep-linking.
User
Look! Google’s not indexing most of your site any more.
Publisher
I want you to view the site exactly the way I intend, with 9-pt fonts, grey on a purple background, and 800 pixels wide.
User
That looks horrible on my screen, and worse on my smartphone, and besides, my aunt can’t even read it. I’m going to my browser accessibility settings (or maybe I’ll just use Pocket).
Publisher
How dare Google News show headlines from our site? We’re sending them a court order to stop.
User
Funny, I’m not seeing headlines from your site any more. I guess I’ll follow the links to stories on other sites.
Publisher
Our ads from ad networks and hidden tracking cookies allow us to monetize you by collecting personal data and selling it to marketing databases.
User
AdBlock.
Publisher
If you block all our ads and tracking cookies, there will be no more web sites in 10 years. You’ll be sorry then.

(To be continued …)

About David Megginson

Scholar, tech guy, Canuck, open-source/data/information zealot, urban pedestrian, language geek, tea drinker, pater familias, red tory, amateur musician, private pilot.
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