Friday, July 22, 2016

Home-Tracking is Killing Advertising


"Today we live in a Blade Runner world, with ad robots posing as people, and Deckard-like figures trying to expose them by digging ever deeper into our browsers, implementing Voight-Kampff machines in Javascript to decide who is human. We're the ones caught in the middle.

The ad networks' name for this robotic deception is 'ad fraud' or 'click fraud'. (Advertisers like to use moralizing language when their money starts to flow in the wrong direction. Tricking people into watching ads is good; being tricked into showing ads to automated traffic is evil.)

Ad fraud works because the market for ads is so highly automated. Like algorithmic trading, decisions happen in fractions of a second, and matchmaking between publishers and advertisers is outside human control. It's a confusing world of demand side platforms, supply-side platforms, retargeting, pre-targeting, behavioral modeling, real-time bidding, ad exchanges, ad agency trading desks and a thousand other bits of jargon.

Because the payment systems are also automated, it's easy to cash out of the game. And that's how the robots thrive.

It boils down to this: fake websites serving real ads to fake traffic for real money.

And it's costing advertisers a fortune.

Just how much money robot traffic absorbs is hard to track. The robots actually notice when they're being monitored and scale down their activity accordingly.

Depending on estimates, ad fraud consumes from 10-50% of your ad budget. In some documented cases, over 90% of the ad traffic being monitored was non-human.

So those profits to advertisers from mass surveillance—the fifteen to thirty percent boost in sales I mentioned—are an illusion. The gains are lost, like tears in the rain, to automated ad fraud.

Advertisers end up right back where they started,still not knowing which half of their advertising budget is being wasted. Except in the process they've destroyed our privacy.


The winners in this game are the ones running the casino: big advertising networks, surveillance companies, and the whole brand-new industry known as "adtech".

The losers are small publishers and small advertisers. Universal click fraud drives down the value of all advertising, making it harder for niche publishers to make ends meet. And it ensures that any advertiser who doesn't invest heavily in countermeasures and tracking will get eaten alive.

But the biggest losers are you and me.

Advertising-related surveillance has destroyed our privacy and made the web a much more dangerous place for everyone. The practice of serving unvetted third-party content chosen at the last minute, with no human oversight, creates ideal conditions for malware to spread. The need for robots that can emulate human web users drives a market for hacked home computers.

It's no accident how much the ad racket resembles high-frequency trading. A small number of sophisticated players are making a killing at the expense of everybody else. The biggest profits go to the most ruthless, encouraging a race to the bottom.

The ad companies' solution to click fraud is to increase tracking. And they're trying to convince browser vendors to play along. If they could get away with it, they would demand that you have webcam turned on, to make sure you are human. And to track your eye movements, and your facial expression, and round and round we go.

I don't believe there's a technology bubble, but there is absolutely an advertising bubble. When it bursts, companies are going to be more desperate and will unload all the personal data they have on us to absolutely any willing buyer. And then we'll see if all these dire warnings about the dangers of surveillance were right."

-Maciej Cegłowski, What Happens Next Will Amaze You, Idle Words/Lecture

Fuckboy Goes to College

Courtesy Scarfolk


"My new Spectator friend is as bewildered as I am by the way Americans take Milo and his ilk seriously, by their willingness to take pride in performative bigotry and call it strength. It works. It sells. It’s the unholy marriage of that soulless debate culture that works so well in Britain, transplanted to a nation with no social safety net and half a billion guns. It works, in part, because of the essentially cult-like nature of U.S. culture and the structured ignorance that accompanies it. America is a nation eaten by its own myth. The entire idea of America is about believing impossible things. Nobody said those things had to be benign."
...

"It doesn’t matter that he doesn’t mean it. It doesn’t matter that he’s secretly quite a sweet, vulnerable person who is gracious to those he considers friends. It doesn’t matter that somewhere in the rhinestone-rimmed hamster wheel of his mind is a conscience. It doesn’t matter because the harm he does is real. 
He is leading a yammering army of trolls to victory on terms they barely understand. This is how we got to a place where headline speakers at the Republican convention—one of the most significant political events in the national narrative of world’s greatest superpower—are now actively calling for the slaughter and deportation of foreigners, declaring that Hillary Clinton is an agent of Satan, and hearing only cheers from the floor. 
They ventriloquise the fear of millions into a scream of fire in the crowded theatre of modernity where all the doors are locked, and then they watch the stampede, and they smile for the cameras."

-Laurie Penny, I'm With the Banned, Medium

I Want My Markets Back




"Indeed, “consumerism” — understood as a society in which consumption growth is the prime motivating factor for companies and individuals alike — is finally being superseded historically. Though the postwar economy saw a virtuous cycle of rising wages feeding rising consumption feeding higher wages — a rising tide lifting most boats — the long crisis beginning in the 1970s saw profits and wages no longer rising in tandem. 
... 
The solution that allowed much of the American “middle class” to not feel the first shocks of this long crisis was cheap credit: first with credit cards, savings and loans, then in dot-com stock market investment, then real estate debt, now, increasingly, medical and college debt. But with each successive debt bubble, the working- and middle class debtors who take it on get less and less consumption possibilities. A credit card can get you into a lot of movies, so will refinancing your house; but it’s pretty hard to go out to the multiplex on dialysis money negotiated with your hospital. Student loan cash might get you to your college town arthouse cinema, but you’ll be paying off that Revenant ticket for a lifetime. 
As a result of all this cheap credit, mass consumption didn’t collapse at the same rate real wages did, but, slowly and surely, it has collapsed. By 2012, the top 5% of earners in America accounted for 39% of the country’s consumption, while the top 20% made up 61% of total consumption in America — this is a dramatic increase from even 1990, when they did just over half of American consumption. Meanwhile, the bottom 60% of America make up less than 20% of total national consumption. Of course, that is still a tremendous amount of economic activity, but it is a proportionally small one, and shrinking. 
The idea that in the postwar period everyone could participate and be represented in consumer markets was always a myth, but it is novel that, at this point, the vast majority of Americans are actually superfluous to consumption markets. Most firms selling things in America would be committing economic folly to even consider 220 million Americans when taking their goods to market. This doesn’t mean that they won’t do whatever they can to squeeze every last penny out of the hood, the exurb, and the trailer park, but it does mean that the majority of marketers, firms, and production companies don’t even need to pretend to provide things poor or even middle-class people want. Mass consumption is no longer meaningful. Markets aren’t for you anymore."

-Not For You by Willie Osterweil, The New Inquiry

youBik- Homeschooled



Out now on Remissive Records

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

The 100 Best Albums of the Tens (So Far...)

As a brief retreat from the heat storm that is the outside world, I present to you my list of the best albums of the 10s so far, covering a slightly more-than-half complete decade that is staggeringly more impressive than its previous full decade already. As per my usual MO, I've limited myself to one album per artist. Those who know me tend to understand that I value establishing a temporal space and sonic adventurousness above many things like lyricism, popular impact, or polish, but if you can find a sweet spot that checks off a whole host of those things it usually finds a way into my rotation. I could fill a small village with the things I haven't yet heard or forgot since hearing them once, but of those that've survived the memory trap these are tops.

I've also included EPs since the age of MP3/Streaming has made them equally as pivotal as the full-length and they are frequently where artists release their best work.

What am I guano-bananas for ommitting or including? Let me know


100. Palmoben II- Palmboben II
99. Sage the Gemini- Gas Pedal EP
98. Danny Brown- Old
97. Ital- Endgame
96. Soft Metals- Lenses
95. Miguel- Wildheart
94. Seven Fields of Aphelion- Periphery
93. Misty Conditions- D'ZZZZ
92. Container- LP (1st one)
91. Innergaze- Mutual Dreaming
90. Emeralds- Does It Look Like I'm Here?
89. High Places- High Places vs Mankind
88. Ramona Lisa- Arcadia
87. Abul Mogard- Drifted Heaven
86. Juliana Barwick- Nepenthe
85. Kingdom- Dreama EP
84. Taylor Swift- 1989
83. Yves de Mey- Metrics EP
82. Animal Collective- Centipede Hz
81. Chelsea Wolfe- Abyss
80. Sophie- Product
79. Traxman- Da Mind of Traxman
78. James Blake- CMYK EP
77. Nguzunguzu- Warm Pulse EP
76. Burial Hex- The Hierophant
75. Fuck Buttons- Slow Focus
74. Kamixlo- Demonico EP
73. Grimes- Art Angles
72. Teams- Dxys Xff
71. D'eon - Palinopsia
70. Kuedo- Severant
69. M.E.S.H.- Damaged Merc
68. The Knife- Shaking the Habitual
67. Hacker Farm- UHF
66. Dan Deacon- America
65. Perc- A New Brutality EP
64. Actress- R.I.P.
63. Dean Blunt and Inga Copeland- Black is Beautiful
62. Slava- Raw Solutions
61. Liars- WIXIW
60. Strange U- EP #2040
59. Diddy Dirty Money- Last Train to Paris
58. Blawan- His He She & He EP
57. Sky Ferreira- Night Time, My Time
56. David Bowie- Blackstar
55. Carter Tutti Void- Carter Tutti Void
54. Macintosh Plus- Floral Shoppe
53. James Ferraro- Far Side Virtual
52. Jurgen Muller- Science of the Sea
51. Vatican Shadow- Kneel Before Religious Icons
50. Wave Racer- Flash Drive EP
49. Various- Numbers One
48. Ekoplekz- Memowrekz
47. Andy Stott- Luxury Problems
46. Run the Jewels- Run the Jewels
45. El Guincho- Pop Negro
44. Amnesia Scanner- AS Angels Rig Hook
43. Com Truise- Galactic Melt
42. Xosar- Holographic Matrix
41. Earl Sweatshirt- Doris
40. Drake- Nothing Was the Same
39. Balam Acab- See Birds EP
38. Julia Holter- Ekstasis
37. LSDXOXO- Fuck Marry Kill
36. Mr. Mitch- Parallel Memories
35. Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti- Before Today
34. Mark Van Hoen- The Revenant Diary
33. Fatima Al Qadiri- Desert Strike EP
32. Rizzla- Iron Cages EP
31. Lotic- Heterocetera EP
30. Evian Christ- Kings and Them
29. Boards of Canada- Tomorrow's Harvest
28. Holly Herndon- Platform
27. RP Boo- Legacy
26. John Maus- We Must Become the Pitiless Censors of Ourselves
25. Arp- The Soft Wave
24. Bloom- Hydraulics
23. Vince Staples- Summertime 06
22. St. Vincent- St. Vincent
21. My Bloody Valentine- M B V
20. Forest Swords- Engravings
19. Beyonce- Beyonce
18. Sun Araw- On Patrol
17. Various- Night Slugs Allstars Vol 1
16. Arca - Stretch 2
15. Kanye West- Yeezus
14. Jlin- Dark Energy
13. Rustie- Glass Swords
12. The Weeknd- House of Balloons
11. Oneontrix Point Never- Garden of Delete
10. Dawn Richards- Blackheart
9. Le1f- Dark York
8. Gazelle Twin- Unflesh
7. Various- Bang & Works Volumes 1 & 2
6. Grouper- A I A: Alien Observer/Dream Loss
5. Kendrick Lamar- To Pimp a Butterfly
4. DJ Rashad- Double Cup
3. Death Grips- The Money Store
2. FKA Twigs- EP2
1. Jam City - Classical Curves

Sunday, July 17, 2016

It's All Forgotten Now



A Legacy of White Supremacy

Or

You've Always Been the Caretaker, Paul



Thursday, July 7, 2016

Friday, July 1, 2016

Steranko

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D is such a painfully dull show.





Thursday, June 30, 2016

RIP Alvin Toffler



Although he became something of an apologist for neoliberalism towards his later life, Alvin Toffler wrote pivotal works of futurism in Future Shock and The Third Wave, books which had huge lasting impacts on the world culture in many ways good (Cyberpunk, Juan Atkins' use of "techno rebels" to invent a genre, other music/scifi/gaming/web/tech) and ill (Newt Gingrich). He can probably never be forgiven for his fealty to adaptive corporatism's inevitability as a central power player in the structuring of the future, but by introducing broader culture to the ideas of post-industrial automation, future shock, computer intelligence, et al., it at least gave those of us opposed to the centrality of control ample guidance to diagnose and resist the attempts to shape culture as they happened in real time and IRL.

In a sense, Toffler's idealism (about the democratization of knowledge, for instance) became the raw fuel of hi-tech industry, selling its own resilience in the face of adverse change as a hallmark of progress. Of course, it wasn't exactly progress, and the cooperation between markets, state, and mass culture left a bloody global mess in the shadows of its gleaming gadgetry. The fundamental shifts Toffler saw taking place within established units like nuclear families and nationalities were quietly challenged in the "neutrality" of business (which became multinational agents with little to no allegiance to world powers and which displaced mothers, fathers, corporatized the education of youngsters, incubated ideology through the distribution of mass media, et al.), while becoming fodder for a host of reactionary political subsets to both offer scapegoating antidotes to those reeling from future shock and insist on said future shock's continuation by enacting an ever-increasing mandate of privatization and deregulation.   In short, politicians work with corporations to product massive accelerated change and comfort those who feel swept up in the dust by promising to make America great again, or at least to make it as shitty for others as it is for you.

Fast forward to our present-day where ISIS is using Twitter and YouTube and lifestyle magazines as recruitment tools and the consensus view is that they are driven by forces that reject the fundamentally benevolent compromise between state and capital we've come to define as post-industrial progress. This is not to excuse ISIS (or American-style capitalism) of their more barbaric acts, but Toffler's "adapt or die" model failed to consider whether resistance to the more toxic elements of futurism (particularly those laid bare by persisting systems of control) was actually a futurism in itself, that not adapting to a future wherein we're headed towards potential mass extinction may actually benefit the species more than vying to hold onto some unsustainable and disastrous conception of a society modeled on Third Wave dynamics.