Related article here. I use both Facebook and Instagram with the awareness that my data is being mined in probably unimaginable ways, but asking for driver's licenses (or birth certificates!) is a bridge too far. Especially for people who use a pen name or stage name for professional reasons, or reasons of personal security.
The "one weird trick discovered by a mom" meme has persisted for a while now in the illustrious world of web ads. And it's not just moms -- all sorts of ordinary folks are coming up with strange tips and tricks for our collective benefit. Just a few weeks ago, I spotted a rather paranoid ad that read: "47yo patriot discovers 'weird' trick to slash power bill & end Obama's power monopoly." (I've heard Obama accused of many things, but being an electricity cartel kingpin is a new one.)
I wonder how this trend came to be. Was there some marketing study on the clickability of different phrases, and "weird trick" came out on top? Especially if the weird trick came from moms, dads, patriots, and other salt-of-the-earth folks? The implicit rejection of professional expertise here frankly says a lot about our culture. Don't need no fancypants scientist telling us how to lose our flab!
In 2011, the Washington Post reported on a Federal Trade Commission investigation of the "tiny belly" ads; they're the front end of a highly profitable scheme involving a large number of dubious dietary supplement companies. The fact that anyone is seduced into giving their credit card numbers to these people boggles the mind.
A non-political cartoon this week, as I've been busy traveling and trying not to think about politics. All of these offenses except the cigar-smoker were observed recently. Personally, I cannot imagine extending my personal Sphere of Entertainment (or Sphere of Commerce) to those sitting around me in a public space, but hey, that's just me. Skype makes loud cellphone talkers seem almost quaint, doesn't it?
Coffee shop proprietors: feel free to print this one out and hang it on the wall. Use the larger click-through version. I'll be grateful.
I often hear people say that Huffpo's unpaid contributors were fools for doing all that free work in the first place. Which is mostly true, but overlooks the fact that Huffpo also seeks out work from published writers and cartoonists. And they simply refuse to pay. As Matt Bors blogged last week, Huffpo contacted him while he was in Afghanistan, filing comics for paying clients. They wanted to post his work on the site, but darned if they just didn't have the budget to pay for it! Not only was Huffpo being unfair to him, but to the publications that were buying the work. He said no, but this sort of situation creates an unfortunate race to the bottom for freelancers and paying publications alike. Which is why I try to avoid clicking on any links to the Huffington Post if I can.
For further reading, I suggest this article in the Columbia Journalism Review about an earlier case of labor exploitation involving AOL.
Oh, and you can read my Huffpo-AOL comments and those of several other cartoonists over at Washington Post's "Comic Riffs" blog.
A holiday tradition continues, as we peek in on the Perkinses once again while they shop for Auntie Perkins and themselves. This year they are shopping online, and having some difficulty in an age when so many things have become "free" -- not to mention existing only on an ethereal plane. Fortunately, they haven't digitized underwear. Yet.
Previous strips in the series are here.
More often than not, I am impressed by whatever tweaks Google makes to its products. The recently- improved image search that expands the photos as you roll over them is very cool. I am not a fan, however, of Google Instant. The ever-shifting search results are distracting, introducing a sense of clutter to the minimalist aesthetic that helped make Google so popular. Thankfully, you can turn it off. And I have. But the whole episode made me wonder: what kind of world do we live in where the normally-fast Google is not fast enough? Do we really need those few seconds Google Instant claims it is saving us? And what will we do with them, aside from waste more time on the internet?
As a slowpoke, I find society's efforts to push the upper bound on speed to be more a sign of sickness than anything. Increased worker productivity has won workers no higher wages, but more stress. At a certain point, you have to wonder: what's the point? Aside from rushing to an early grave?