The meat outlines some good points about modern advertising, but I don't get what it has to do with Linux. (Which "Linux" is this? The system? The community? Something else?)
It's also wrong to say that software systems don't lie: that's what virtual memory is, for example. Obviously educated people know the truth, but there's a real sense in which the system is presenting one thing as though it's really another, when the system is actually just going through great pains to make things look that way. This is often a good thing in software, unless the system gets caught in the lie (e.g., when it has to page things out or deploy the OOM killer), at which point real people are often surprised at what was going on all along.
> Trader Joe's [in avoiding loyalty programs, coupons, and retailer trade fairs] spares itself the cognitive overhead required to rationalize complicating the living shit out of everything
Should have maybe been broken into a series of two paragraph articles.
Yeah, fair point, I don't cut coupons or sign up for every loyalty program, but I've still always been sort of underwhelmed at TJs.
Maybe Aldi would have been a better example.
I think it is self-evident that when it comes to matters of taste there is no really "right" answer, but these middle-men are all about muddying the waters for the (short term) benefit of their clients at my personal expense. That is really in contradiction to the premise of a market-based economy - that every transaction benefits both sides. These techniques are all about shifting as much of the benefit to the seller rather than improving the outcomes for both participants.
The problem is that companies don't exist in a vacuum, and soon as one adopts these marketing techniques, everybody has to adopt to "stay competitive", even though they end up wasting money and bullshitting the customer. It's a prisoner's dilemma.
That's one reason why advertising makes so much money. Advertising is one of the rare industries that generates demand for itself.
I was wondering the same thing, although Searls takes an example of Trader Joe's and tries to illustrate how avoiding marketing actually helps this business. I'm not from the US, so have never heard of Trader Joe's. I can't help but wonder how competitive it is compared to other businesses who do employ those huge marketing / big data operations. I am also curious how the customer experience itself differs between companies in this market.
In my case it wasn't really that I was attracted to shopping at Trader Joes, so much as the bullshit at all the other grocery stores pushed me away. For example, a couple of them now have advertising videos (with loud audio) running right in your face as you stand in the checkout line. That sent my aggravation level through the roof. The very last time I was in one of those stores I literally abandoned my cart in the line and walked out because of it. I simply could not take it.
Trader Joes isn't perfect, but they don't come across as contemptuous the way the extreme bullshitters do. I think there is at least a lesson here about the "arms race" of marketing bullshit.
For decades, maybe centuries, stores have run sales. They are a level of bullshit, it adds to the cognitive load by making customers decide to buy now or wait for a possible sale in the future. But it's low-level enough that few people are annoyed by weekly sales.
It is only in the recent ~20 years that we've seen a major escalation of bullshit at grocery stores. Technology has enabled things like loyalty cards, targeted marketing, individualized flyers in the mail, purchase-specific coupons on check-out, blaring videos through-out the store, etc. This marketing bullshit may well be feeding itself. But the greater the bullshit, the more obvious to the customers just how much better opting out would be. At some point it becomes obvious to the majority of customers that "the only winning move is not to play."
At least I hope so because that end game means the real bullshitters get punished for it, rather than rewarded as hcarvalhoalves postulated.
Slightly on a tangent, but it makes me wondering if things like screens with audio in-store is exactly the kind of marketing spiel that backfires. Short-term, if you put one, I bet it could increase sale. The novelty, the attention grabbing potential etc. But this is a very short-term, short-sighted win, because when it becomes prevalent everywhere, it's just a nuisance and probably decreases sales. (just my non-scientific, half rant random thoughts on the subject).
In any case, I'm glad to hear there are some successful alternatives out there, that realize the potential of not jumping on the marketing bandwagon.
Let's not over-idealize the situation. Trader Joe's does advertise (they keep sending me paper mail) and they do put things on sale from time to time. Thankfully, they don't have any loyalty card bullshit-- that kind of thing is always a big pain. TJ's also carries a fairly limited selection of items compared to most stores. But it turns out that having a limited selection of items that are not shit is preferable to being a giant warehouse of questionable items.
I think you are mistaken. From their FAQ:
"Sale" is a four-letter word to us. We have low prices, every day. No coupons, no membership cards, no discounts. You won't find any glitzy promotions or couponing wars at our stores. If it makes you feel any better, think of it as all our items are on sale, day in and day out.
In 2012, Consumer reports did a study where only a few "extra virgin olive oils" turned out to actually be extra virgin. Trader Joes has them; Safeway does not.
Simiarly, would you buy honey from Safeway? It's not actually pure honey. The FDA doesn't enforce any standards as to what can be labelled honey (although they do provide a grade which tells you what color it is)
Trader Joe's has real honey.
Spinach I buy from TJ's keeps for two weeks, but spinach I buy from Target is already wilted after a few days. I don't know if there's anyone out there measuring produce quality, so I can't give you a link.
Sometimes, it really is about having a better product, not about marketing, positioning, or other bullshit. (And I guess now we're back on topic?)
Branding and market positioning isn't an absolute thing. It's done relative to other folks already in the market.
Probably most Americans haven't heard of Trader Joe's since most of its stores are in Southern California.
But it's a really cool grocery chain, and I say that as someone who generally hates shopping. Still one of the things we miss most about California since we moved to Australia.
You must have blinked! They started there, but have expanded rapidly across the US in recent years. They now have 400+ stores in 35 states: http://www.traderjoes.com/pdf/locations/all-llocations.pdf
I like this way of putting it. It really is a classic prisoner's dilemma.
That doesn't help anyone to make money without wasteful and irrational practices but at least it explains exactly what is going on.
It's not a new issue, unfortunately. Plato wrote about it .
(or at Project Gutenberg: http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/1672 )
I'm not sure. It often seems they muddy the water for their own benefit, at the expense of their client, with any damage to you the shopper being merely incidental. I thought this was one of the things Searls' was getting at in the article:
In fact, advertising and marketing have always been good at bullshitting themselves. Consider, for example, the old saying (often attributed to John Wanamaker, who is not known to have actually said it) "I know half my advertising is wasted, I just don't know which half." The correct answer is that most of it is wasted, and the industry has known that for the duration. They just don't want to talk about it.
I think that they are misleading their clients just as much as prospective buyers. The resultant cloud of garish, rainbow hued fog intruding between buyer and seller reduces the efficiency of the market, and brings only short term illusory benefit to the advertising industry (at least until their credibility dissipates).
It boils down to "Bullshit, damned bullshit, and marketing".
The article is disorganized. You can't tell where it's going, and when it gets there, you can't tell where you are.
It also seems to contain a lot of pretentious pseudo-intellectual posturing.
Maybe I'm missing something, though. Someone feel free to enlighten me.
EDIT: Also, I should state that I find the scatalogical references to be vulgar, juvenile, and a big turn-off.
It's hard to avoid the scatological references without diluting the message. When I read "bullshit" for the first time, I knew immediately what the author meant. Had he said "intentional misrepresentation and/or exaggeration of facts for the purpose of personal gain", the whole thing would be harder to read. And the author even bothered to explain the analogy.
I don't think pseudo-intellectual posturing is a problem here. The author is quoting philosophers, but he does that in a way that is relevant to the main thesis. I understand that a lot of people groan the moment they see a reference to Philosophy. Philosophers might be to blame for that, but let's not throw away the baby with the bath water.
I would make the opposite accusation towards many articles we see on HN these days: they are too simplistic, too conformist and lack deep thinking.
But this is true for any open source project, why just Linux ? That said, I feel Linux too can't escape the "economy of bullshit" - commercial companies have interest and contribute to different parts of the Linux kernel for a reason. Heck even MS works on the hyper-v code base, not for the betterment of Linux but for the good of their own product. The "enterprise focus" of LKML activity is proof enough.
Not in my opinion. In my opinion, Gnome, KDE, Ubuntu and many others are self-destructing in an effort to imitate Apple's design without understanding it, and generating a good amount of bullshit in the process.
I don't think anyone here is suggesting that companies==bullshit. There's nothing wrong with smart employees of big companies contributing to the kernel. In many cases it's mutually beneficial so it's the rational thing to do. On the other hand, it seems to be very hard to create a big corporation without letting bullshit fester. Linux is not controlled by the sort of people that thrive on bullshit. But could it fall under their control in the future? Sure.
I'd go so far to say that the desktop App Store is a BAD idea.
1. It was meant to make mobile more free, and now makes desktops less free.
It was born out of things like Brew on the old, old cellular market. Mobile content used to be as free as a concentration camp, and in order to appease them, Apple said "we'll do your content management for you". That was a huge deal step forward, but it obviously wasn't enough or people wouldn't jailbreak their phones.
2. It is not sustainable over the long haul.
Centralized app management is not a long-sustainable model for the desktop, or anything for that matter. You cannot continue to micromanage that much software without things eventually deteriorating. Apps require maintenance or removed as hardware and the OS changes.
3. The user experience sucks.
It puts all the installed apps in its own area (LaunchPad) in addition to the AppStore app where you see what you bought, and both in addition to the previously widely known Applications directory/folder. That's just stupid. Why do people want to emulate that mess?
3. But it survives for now because it is profitable.
I've bought more apps in OS X using the App Store than I would have in a store or via some other online delivery mechanism or Amazon, etc.
But, none of all of that would have been as terrible, if it hadn't spread to Ubuntu. Seeing similar there was a huge WTF moment.
If we are talking about the Linux kernel, specifically, then of course it's not consumer bullshit, because the Linux kernel is a technical product in a B2B market. You might as well say that Intel CPUs or Samsung flash chips or Nikon steppers are not consumer bullshit.
However, I had to read Doc Searles essay twice myself. I think it appears disorganized because it starts discussing the Linux kernel but it is about advertising. The big idea is tat most on,one advertising is wasteful, and unnecessarily violates privacy for no real good reason. The second time I read the article, I suddenly realised why he juxtaposed the Linux kernel with advertising. The Trader Joes example makes it quite clear.
This quote nails it for me. The waste involved with universal surveillance.
Further down this discussion, some participants are arguing about terminology ('Linux' or 'GNU/Linux') which is the other side of the free software/open source process...
I was previously unaware of the work of Harry Frankfurt, and the original journal version of the On Bullshit essay is available online as a .pdf. There goes the morning...
"To be fair, both the DAA and the IAB would like
advertising to be as wrought as possible, and for
consumers to appreciate the good intentions and effects
of their business. I know that because I've talked to
them about it. Those organizations see themselves,
correctly, as advocates for good behavior in a business
rife with the opposite. "
I do all this for two reasons.
1. I don't trust them. I honestly believe that if an advertisement ever states anything, the opposite is likely to be true. eg. "Our product helps you lose weight!" I am now convinced this product makes you gain weight.
2. I fear that advertisements really alter the way I perceive the world. part of that fear discussed here: http://www.reddit.com/r/explainlikeimfive/comments/14y695/el...
I worry that advertisements gradually change the people that watch them.
but the paragraph mentioned above gave me pause. I can't help but feel, if there were advertisements that didn't lie or actively mislead, that didn't have a terrible and dishonest history, that didn't exist purely as a form of mass manipulation, that I would be more amenable to them.
Of course, that will NEVER happen EVER.
so I will continue to block them at every vector. Maybe when the advertising industry is completely squeltched, desperate, and trying to claw itself from its own dug grave, will they play by the users rules. I wouldn't hold your breath.
or were you thinking along the lines media piracy?
I have no justifications or rationalizations there. There's a giant bureaucracy that will never move, and never let me watch their content. So more or less, I don't.
Until you ask it to allocate some memory.
But be warned, a lot of applications also lie on how much memory they need.
Think of it as allocating address space, not memory.
the "community" has long since ceased to be what most people think it is.
Due to the GPL "infection", though, the bullshit can only go so far. If it went too far, somebody would make a "ReDoIx" fork/distribution from the unbroken parts, and build something that people could tolerate.
I started with Slackware Linux in the mid 90s, jumped to RedHat for a while, couldn't figure out what to make of "Fedora", so I jumped to Ubuntu. While both my current and previous employer use RedHat in production (the previous employer was on Debian until being acquired by BigCo), I have no problem with jumping again when something better comes around.
I guess business-to-business supported software has to come with a certain level of bullshit or FUD.
1. Ubuntu's decision to include ads
Linux got a real black eye from that imo, and turned me off of the normal Ubuntu distro for the forseeable future. Even for my lightweight distro I use Mint XCFE now just to stay the hell away from an organization that would do that.
2. Corporate Linux
I liked RedHat in 1997-98, but they went corporate quickly, and since then I personally don't like paying anyone for Linux. I want to support the hacker ethos that made Linux great, not some big corporate head.
If not then google aren't making money.
If yes then you might have to feel guilty about robbing small businesses to make money for google.
But don't count on me to enable third party scripts and cookies. I'm quite against having somebody tracking all the sites I visit, and running random software on my computer.
If you have an older computer, flash ads really do slow things down considerably, for instance.
Most of the literature out there makes the marketing world out to be the NSA. The truth is there are some very easy ways to control the ads you see on your screen if you take the time to understand how it works. Basically, not logging into Google while searching and periodically clearing your cookies will keep your searches for sex toys from showing you ads for butt-plugs. Most of this information is stored in cookies, except for when dealing with companies with large stakes in advertising that have user accounts where they can store your history with their service (Google). I find storing search information connected to a user in a database to be invasive so I don't log into Google. I have little reason to log into Google and do so very infrequently. If your argument for logging in is gmail, just don't use the web client. Cookies are protected by domain so the only visibility into the ads you're delivered via a cookied ad network is via your eyeballs.
Many of the technologies listed in the article are hair splitting variants and some are not advertising at all (Web Analytics are used mainly to determine where people go and what they are interested in in your website to drive changes that benefit users and keep your website profitable, whether that be through ad placement or order form flow). Additionally, ad buying for newspapers and television are only slightly less complicated and involve only slightly fewer middle men than internet advertising and these days those are considered "traditional" advertising media. CRM is listed here as well, which is basically the online equivalent of leaving your business card at someone's office and is mostly used by companies as an alternative to cold calling.
Much of the diversity listed here is about monetization. IE, does the publisher get paid for impressions (views of the ad) or clicks, or completed tasks (sign-ups, orders, etc). This is better for the advertisers because they can pay only for effective ad placements, and puts a lot of focus then on how the ads are placed effectively (so those who display them can make money from those who traffic them). Without going into it too deeply, this is how money from a company (like Aspen Solutions, who's ads I see on the article page for example) trickles down to linuxjournal.com to pay their staff and hosting bills. If you prefer paywalls on your news outlets and blogs or are willing to pay Google for access to their search database (or worse need to log in so they can collect data about your searches to sell to parties undisclosed), I'm sure that could be arranged, but I will go on avoiding traps and diverting my eyes because I understand that this is the middle-ground. At some point you have to accept that the services we enjoy on the internet are built by people with families that like to eat and your selfish desire for public search privacy and screens uncluttered by advertising are secondary to their well being. Are there people making a lot of money off of advertising? Yes, but much fewer than make money off of professional sports which is also funded by advertising and gets a hell of a lot less negative press.
Is the entire problem. One of Searl's points is that cognitive overload results in abuse. Let me create a straw man and see if it works as illustration.
I've got a restaurant and on a white board I write a word, then when the waitstaff says that word, customers merely have to lay their heads on the table, because those that don't will be slapped. Periodically, and without sound, I will erase the word on the board and replace it with a new one.
Now eating at this restaurant is a lot harder because while I'm eating I have to keep an eye on the white board and duck when I hear the word that is written on it, and still eat.
You've increased the "cognitive load" of eating artificially. So something that I would give my whole attention too now only gets 80% or less because this other distraction. The alternative is to eat while being slapped. Which ruins the entire experience.
As more and more of our activities involve tools or products that can be remotely controlled, people exploiting that control to inject advertising impute a tax on our usage which is not appreciated.
Yes, I believe this person is in advertising.
Historically, naming rights for an OS go to whoever actually puts together and distributes the complete system. For instance, if a workstation company licensed Unix from AT&T and ported it to their workstation, they got to name that OS whatever they wanted. A couple examples of this were Uniplus+, which was UniSoft's Unix, and 386/ix, which was Interactive System Corporation's Unix. Both were Unix systems--they used a Unix kernel and Unix utilities--but that wasn't their names. Half the fun working at a Unix workstation company in the early '80s was thinking of a neat name for your Unix port. :-)
For the complete systems distributed by Canonical, Red Hat, and the like, they are the ones who get to name the operating systems that they distribute. Ubuntu calls their OS the "Ubuntu operating system". Red Hat calls their OS "Red Hat Enterprise Linux".
Yes, they are also GNU systems, but if we want to be historically accurate, the most correct way to view this would be to view "GNU system" and "GNU/Linux" as specifications for a specific Unix-like userspace and for an OS that runs the GNU system on a Linux kernel, respectively. The Ubuntu operating system complies with the GNU system specification and is a GNU/Linux system, but it is named Ubuntu operating system.
It's called Linux because we call it Linux. That is how language works. It doesn't matter about the official name or the etymology, if the population typically uses a certain term for something, that is the "correct" term.
Now there are lots of arguments for preferring an atypical term in some situations. Official names in more formal contexts, genderless nouns to avoid excluding people, and indeed "GNU/Linux" to promote the GNU project. But these are choices we make, and are not something to be forced on people who don't necessarily agree with the reasoning behind them.
The GNU project had built all pieces of the OS, before convincing Linus Torvalds to release his proprietary kernel code in the GPL license.
"Since the initial release of its source code in 1991, it has grown from a small number of C files under a license prohibiting commercial distribution to its state in 2009 of over 370 megabytes of source under the GNU General Public License."
And by the way, the GPL was first written in 1989, so you could hardly argue that in 1991 many people understood how free software should work or which are the longterm consequences of using a certain license for your hobby project. Cut Linus some slack, he released source code and eventually used the GPL, right?
It's great we're talking about the kernel codebase then!
So is X.org, the KDE project, the Mozilla project, and a number of other projects which aren't as well-known. So should it be X.org/KDE/Mozilla/OpenSSH/GNU/Linux? If not, why not?
The Android system uses the Linux kernel, but should people refer to the OS as "Linux" or "Android"? I think even calling that as Linux is fine, as long as people understand its just the kernel that they are calling out. The OS is either GNU/Linux (desktop/server OS) or Android (the mobile phone OS).
The convention has generally become that Linux-kernel operating systems are called "Linux". But you have options if this offends you so. If you don't like that, Debian's over there and willing to play along, and if you really don't like it, I hear that GNU has a kernel of their own rattling somewhere around gnu.org.
Don't be ridiculous.
Years ago, I used to joke with friends starting with ubuntu, that they were using really adobe/nvidia/broadcom/micrososoft/oracle/etc/gnu/linux.
you GNU terrorists are funny, thinking you can go and claim others ppl work by attaching "GNU" prefix to a projects name and lying to everyone how it _is_ gnu. Unfortunately Linux is only GPL2 (and that too was a mistake as we can see from the above example - Linus said something about it too as I recall).