I’ve been thinking of this world, one I’ve worked in for over 20 years, as a fiasco since reading a lecture by Maciej Cegłowski, delivered at the Beyond Tellerrand web design conference.
Cegłowski is an important and influential programmer and an enviably talented writer.
The key part of investor storytime is persuading investors that your ads will be worth more than everyone else’s ads.
That’s because most online ads aren’t worth very much.
But even if we ignore the important idea of “free cultural labor” that makes a business like Facebook (or Tripod!
) possible, it’s striking that our attention, as viewers, is worth only a penny an hour to Facebook’s advertisers.
Think of it as an advertising future, or perhaps the world’s most targeted ad. In one of them, you’re asking millions of listeners to hand over a little bit of money.
In the other, you’re persuading one or two listeners to hand over millions of money.
All of us have screwed up situations in our lives so badly that we’ve been forced to explain our actions by reminding everyone of our good intentions.
The fiasco I want to talk about is the World Wide Web, specifically, the advertising-supported, “free as in beer” constellation of social networks, services, and content that represents so much of the present day web industry.