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though shalt not advertise

01 Apr 2011

Imagine an ad less browsing experience made possible by the presence of a mirror image Adworld. Let's begin with an inspection of constraints.

Boundaries

Constraints whether artificially applied or born from forces outside of our influence, inspire us to discover creative abilities that would otherwise have lain dormant. The barrier serves as a question which challenges us to critically examine automatic assumptions and foregone conclusions. Existence is much more than rules based decision making and pattern matching, it is an endless supply of novelty. Within that novelty lay the keys to creative inspiration and freedom.

A restriction reduces the systematic degrees of freedom and acts like a shade which blocks out the sun of infinite possibilities. To utilize a constraint, we must know it. Only when we recognize a constraint for what it is, may we explore the hidden opportunities its presence reveals.

What if...

we created a digital global network which mimics features of the current internet but with a single additional law, "though shalt not advertise"? This single constraint lead to a series of questions:

  1. How would that rule be enforced?
  2. Do communities like this already exist?
  3. How would services monetize without the ability to charge a fraction of visitor attention with interruptions and noise?
  4. How would the balance of adless and adworld look and feel?

Enforcement

There's no reason a new interruption-less network couldn't coexist with all the connections we have now, but imposing this kind of restraint on an existing community is unnecessary. A simple implementation would be an opt in tag that can be used for identity and as a statement that anything under a domain or subdomain is ad free.

Without overestimating there are likely hundreds of millions or billions of adless pages out in the wild already.

I've dabbled with ads in the past on this blog, hosting one developed by our startup, and sharing an image and link to friends services. Yet I was never able to create an ad that didn't feel like a tax on visitor attention.

One of the implementations of going ad free I cooked up this morning is a single button which takes a user to a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde alternate web impression of a page. Beyond a single page or domain, an alternate switch could act globally as a browser feature or plugin. The transition would be clear but in practice the adworld could take on a range of styles from a Vegas like experience to a more subtle and elegant promotional experience.