Sunday, August 28, 2011

Thoughts on the Future of Advertisement

The future of advertisement is virtual. This is because the future of technology is virtual. Currently, we are tethered to devices: smartphones, e-readers, tablets, gaming devices. However, technology has always evolved to make itself easier to use, smaller, lighter, less intrusive, less tangible. Surely, the future will take the Web out of our hands and homes and into our minds - ultimate portability.

As more and more people will choose to spend increasing amounts of time in virtual reality, the dichotomy between virtual reality and the real world will seemingly disappear. "Physical" technology is disappearing already, being replaced by cloud services and massive databases. Advertisement, therefore, will move into this new virtual realm. With most if not all our collective information moving from the physical to the digital, it moves from our hands into the hands of big corporations, those that own the cloud services, the social networking sites - the information technologies. These corporations, such as Amazon or Facebook, already use accumulated user information to target consumers more efficiently (i.e., get you to buy more). This might seem harmless. After all, you are provided with more relavent ads. However, with virtual reality, the danger is that because the lines between it and the real world will likely be blurred in the future, one's experience of the world can be substantially different than someone else's. In effect, big corporations will be in control, customizing what people hear and see. This kind of thing is already happening to a limited degree. Google, for example, displays different search results based on your search history. This means that two people would see different search results for the same search word or phrase. This future eventuality is actually a very subtle form of mind control. Perhaps it should be called mind influence. It will give big corporations the ability to "herd" people: make them do, or think, or buy, what the corporations want, within a certain, very real, probability, which will only  improve with time, as the corporations become more adept and experienced with such techniques.

No one wants to be controlled, but how can one avoid it without "unplugging" himself from what will be the lifeline of future society? That is the potential power of advertisement and big corporations that must be respectfully feared. Awareness of such techniques of information gathering should certainly be emphasized. Whenever you do anything online, it becomes information that is recorded, shared, and analyzed, information someone else could use. Be mindful of what you're sharing about yourself, explicitly or implicitly, voluntarily or involuntarily. Whether on social networking sites, shopping online, using a search engine, or just using a Web browser, think about all the information about you collected in one way or another over your lifetime by the technologies society has come to not even think about: all your locations and the time and date you're at them, all your calendars and events and anniversaries, all your friends and penpals and acquaintances, everything you've ever searched for online, every email you've ever sent, every forum post, every blog post, your voice, appearance, telephone conversations, etc. Now imagine someone with that information and an agenda.

No comments:

Post a Comment