Like any of my socially awkward friends, I have been a technical guru for most of my days. I started out with a mostly reliable relic, the 8086, monochome EGA, with a dual floppy drive, 16 mb ram, 420 mb “BigFoot” hard drive, and a 14.4 kilobaud cradle rocker modem. I started with using DOS 2.2, with simple command scripting. There wasn’t any “Mouse”. There weren’t any speakers, unless you count the ones used by the modem and the corded house phone that was set upon a screeching box. My parents had only the one ‘house phone’, and I would tie up the line for several hours, just trying to find one person who was also using their computer, which I would dial directly.
Try to relate this to anyone younger than 30 and they’ll look at you like you were born in a third world country.
The nature of electronics has evolved quickly, like anyone who hasn’t been living in a cave for 30 years will tell you. What used to be the size of a shoe box would store the equivalent of one high definition, 22 minute television show by todays standards.
Yesterday, I purchased my first 128gb Micro-SD card. It’s a microchip smaller than my pinky nail which holds over 250 times the information of my first shoebox sized hard drive, which would click, clunk, and strain to retrieve information.
The evolution of our technology has certainly come a long way, shouldering out things like network television, radio, and the printed press, who, for the last 100 years, have been using their mediums to inform people about products which they wish to sell. Fascism and Capitalism at its shining moments.
Over the past few years, a particular friend has sent me ads from between the turn of the Twentieth Century till the 1980’s, showing off blatant racisim, sexism, ignorance of medical and scientific facts, all for the sake of a chuckle. “At least she didn’t burn the beer?”
About the same time frame, I became more and more aware over how my entire life, I’ve been harassed at every turn with adverts. Constantly, I’m barraged with companies attempting to convince me that I “need” their product. That they would really like my email address, mailing address, cell phone number to offer me future deals. This headless hydra comes in so many forms, from companies pre-packaging software on their cell phones, computers, tablets, to every web page tracking my marketing preferences, how often I visit their site, which products I browse or purchase, and even which products I use to view their products.
Advertising has such a broad spectrum, and millions are spent and generated in marketing. Even the web page which you are viewing has ads, weather you block them with software or not, as well as the space having metrics to allow us to publish it for free.
About 5 years ago, around the same time that I started getting old-timey ads from my friend, I stopped watching television entirely, in the most traditional of senses. I became completely irritated with both how stupid the advertisements were, but another layer of irritation is that I was paying for the cable service. I was paying the cable company, like everyone does, to send me commercials to buy things which I have no use for.
The most common theme was “You’ll get ‘extra laid’ by someone much more attractive if you buy this and use it on a regular basis.” I counted, in 1 hour of regular prime-time programming, there were 51 minutes of ‘Show’, (admittedly, 3 of which were eaten up by opening and ending credits), and 16 commercial advertisements, (none of which were products I’ll ever use or purchase for myself or another), ranging from heavily processed, overpriced foods, new car commercials, and two to watch other programming on the channel which I never watch. I began to become ill, simply from marketing.
“Why am I paying for this?” became my thought.
I canceled my package, and not without a fight from the cable company. They simply said that it was too much of a hassle to ‘unbundle’ my package from my internet, so they offered me a reduced price for my package.
“Hey… No, listen to me, and what I’m saying, PLEASE. Turn it OFF.”
As it turns out, as a little known fact, when you get cable Internet, the cable line is still open for television, which the cable company has to pay a service technician to come out and put a filter on to block the signal. The cable company doesn’t want to pay for it, of course.
Recently as 3 years ago, most cable service providers switched to using a newer method of transmission, using a digital signal over the cable lines, instead of the half-analogous transmission type most televisions have been built to use.
It eliminates the need for a service installer to equip line filters, as the signal is already needing a box, which has a mac-address, to prevent unauthorized users from paying the cable guy a few extra bucks for HBO and Showtime.
So, instead of paying for shows by the money given to the cable companies by advertisers commercials, we also pay the cable companies for infrastructure, which is already outdated, renting equipment, which, by the 6th month of the cost of renting, has already paid for.
In many areas, cable and ‘home phone’ providers have a monopoly, despite the decomissioning of corporate monopolies like “Ma Bell”.
Lately, I’ve been looking for a new phone, and for will of my want, I always browse all of the current electronics in most stores, pricing value of the hardware, software, against user generated reviews, and came to some already known facts. People are pretty stupid, generally. I looked at the Samsung, Lenovo, Apple, Windows, Sony, …. All of the major players in the portable electronics world, and browsed their stock, and while doing it, I read about each product in developer and “hacker” forums. Increasingly, the trends towards each manufacturer have made their products “UN-modifiable”, using encrypted boot partitions, “Knox”, “OEM licensing”, as well as moving from traditional BIOS, which is backwards (“Legacy”) compatible, to UFI, which is not, and essentially locks an Original Equipment Manufacturer’s intellectual property to a device.
What’s worse, is that in the most major players in the hardware development arena also load their devices with ‘bloatware’, essentially useless applications which people have no use for, and the manufacturers say that ‘oh, you will…’
In this bloatware, it contains ads from partners, content sponsors, or people who feed into this nonsense that a product needs to be advertised and wouldn’t have a genuine market without it.
In the converse, marijuana has NEVER needed a salesman. Lip balm has NEVER needed a sign, nor has Q-Tips, Band-Aid brand medical adhesive strips… These things pretty much sell themselves. They have no actual physical addiction effects, but they have a ‘comfort’ and psychological dependence. These types of products pretty much sell themselves.
What genuinely bothers me the most is that people accept it as ‘status quo’.
Slavery was once ‘a thing’… for like 200 years. It was certainly ‘status quo’ to own another human being, much how in the same ways ‘arranged marriages’, ‘blood-letting’, and ‘The World is 6,000 years old’ have been.
What also bothers me is the point of intellectual property rights held by commercial corporate entities, which, through some pretty stupid legislation, have argued that ‘corporations are people’. I completely agree with individual people who create truly original ideas should be monetarily compensated for offering radical new perspectives and advances in math, sciences, technology, as well as art. What I completely disagree with is intellectual property rights for corporations, especially if they intend to profit from research and development, to use that development to fund research and developments into further Oroboros style (a snake eating it’s own tail) to dominate a market, with little to no ethics.