Social Media Can Do Better

Notwithstanding available technology that could put an end to it, advertising isn't going away any year soon.

You know this when venture capitalists as respected and as prominent as Mark Suster blog about a future in which advertising is "authentic" and "integrated." (Hey, it's in your stream; it's actually doing you a favor so keep writing revealing copy!)

No question advertising is an important way many social and other digital media startups bootstrap their growth. Journalists still seem to depend on it, even as they know better and continue to look for business models that aren't so clearly at odds with their mission. And some companies are expressly formed to serve industries and markets that advertise, or depend on advertising. I participate and benefit myself!

But we need a technologist who thinks more deeply about this and aims higher.

Mark Zuckerberg had a shot at it, but he lacks a social conscience and seems content to build the world's best online mall. Twitter could have done it, by ceding celebrity based applications to others to concentrate instead on being the world's real time information utility; but Twiller can't be blamed when it must answer to a group of disparate investors and lacks a leader.

There's a brief bit in Morgan Spurlock's new movie where he visits Sao Paolo to show what a city without billboards and neon advertising looks like. Check out this YouTube video, which seems to be a before/after collage of what retail areas looked like before and after an advertising ban.

It's so unexpected, it's a bit scary. I'm not sure my first reaction to the stripped-down store facades was positive! But in Spurlock's film, at least, it seemed clear that commerce was still taking place, on the streets, in the shops. Only the visual pollution was missing.

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