Advertising

My relationship with advertising has been a complicated one.

Studied it in university because I did not know what I wanted to do at the time and it seemed harmless enough. But not long after some work experience in ad agencies I realized the environment was not for me.

Most things are not very good, I thought, and not worth the effort spent to convince other people to buy them. So why dedicate a part of my life to that business? I left and did not go back other than for short freelance assignments now and again.

Black and white photograph of advertising billboards including live video feed in Times Square.
Self-portrait in Times Square, New York City, 2015.

On the web I dislike most advertising because of the erosion of privacy and performance caused by tracking code on websites and social networks that have diminished the open and independent web despite not helping publishers much at all.

Because of this, I didn’t want to have any tracking or advertising on this website. But if I want to make a living by publishing here — and the time has come to do so — I must try a few things, one of which is a Youtube video channel to host clips and long-form films I make to accompany the articles I write.

To connect this channel to a Google AdSense account, which could allow me to be paid when enough people subscribe to the channel and watch the videos, I need to temporarily add an AdSense tag to the HTML code here to confirm that I own the domain name. (Update 2020 May 6: The tag has now been removed.)

Ideally I’d like to make a living through patronage from fans of my work instead of relying on advertising, but with the continuing arrival of various apocalypses, I am considering other options such as the videos, and wanted to be clear about this with you, dear friends of words, films and video games.

Speaking of friends, I have many who love doing good work including advertising of the type that comes from a bottega of art in disguise. I also know some who, I believe, are tired of it but continue because it is what they have always done and how they make a living, or because without a universal basic income in the world, they have little choice.

No doubt there are many working in the ad industry because they like and believe in the work or because it pays or somewhere in between, and I don’t mean this to be a judgement of their choices.

Free email accounts and video hosting, simple web publishing and easy communication with people you care about, these things would probably not exist if it weren’t for advertising, after all — and I am glad they do exist, but continue to look for less manipulative, kinder, better forms.

Perhaps advertising something one has made and is completely responsible for is one.