“As addicts we deny the addictive power of our narcotics while we exaggerate our ability to resist them. So it is with our meta-addiction to all things media and all things digital.” - Jeff Einstein
I remember a virtual conversation with a former colleague about blockchain technology a year or two ago. I told him I thought it might someday make a good technological refuge for rogue subcultures like the book people of Fahrenheit 451, as a possible means for them to protect their integrity and autonomy against the algorithmic onslaught of a Brave New Digital World. Fade out.
Fade in. Today I read an article in DigitalNewsDaily, Unilever Unveils Blockchain, Threatens Billions in Ad Spend, about how Unilever’s new blockchain-driven ad buying technology would compel Google and Facebook to clean up their respective advertising environments. Here’s my comment:
“Facebook and Google will take extraordinary pains to clean up their respective acts, most likely because Unilever won’t be the only major advertiser to deploy the same technology for the same reasons.
“File this one in the no-good-deed-goes-unpunished drawer in the be-careful-what-you-wish-for cabinet. While Unilever’s goals to clean up the ad environment may sound laudable (at least as laudable as a $10 billion dollar ad budget can sound), the unintended consequences of wholesale purification of any environment (virtual or real) are chilling at best.
“As the late great media ecologist Neal Postman once said about Brave New World in Amusing Ourselves to Death:
What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one.
“Likewise, in the Brave New Digital World, freedom of speech is rendered inert when there’s nothing worthwhile left to discuss. In the Brave New Digital World we’ve already achieved diversity of everything except thought. How can it possibly be otherwise when 90% of the commercial media ecosphere is owned by only six companies — all of whom will likely offer their own blockchain final solutions to purify the ad environment (our environment)?”
How can it possibly be otherwise when more than 90% of all digital advertising money is already spent on Google and Facebook?
I stand by my original comment from a couple of years ago: Blockchain technologies will be the last technological refuge for book people.