Will Apple save us from ad surveillance?

Recovering from the second chance given to me by the collision detection feature on my Apple Watch, I hope that Apple will spare me again, this time from the avalanche of advertising inherent in online social media monetization.

I love that Apple News in iOS 17 offers a new daily selection of crossword puzzles, and I'd like to see more new ad-free content from the company in this direction. Perhaps the world needs to do more intellectual exercises and less bored with boring social networks monetized by continuous advertising.

Intellectual exercise

Rather than simply feeding you, the consumer, preconceived ideas, Apple News' new crossword puzzles, designed to be easy to digest, will take you out of the world of surveillance and advertising of the open Internet and instead engage you in a different kind of activity: thinking for yourself.

Without much fanfare, Apple News published a regular daily series of crossword puzzles in two formats: a mini puzzle that can be solved in a minute or so, and a larger puzzle with varying levels of difficulty that takes me about half the time. an hour to decide.

Apple News crossword clues and answers, reminiscent of some Apple TV shows, make occasional references to the company's app platform and also reflect its touted corporate values ​​on the environment and its willingness to recognize outstanding women and minorities.

Emojis even appear frequently in the tooltips, as if Apple really wanted to evoke the nostalgia of the classic newspaper while also bringing that experience into the modern world of the 2020s. It is also possible to share the crossword puzzle via AirDrop. Perhaps iOS 18 will feature “collaboration with FaceTime suggestions.”

Old old news – new news

Harkening back to an earlier era when printed crosswords were a kind of proto-video game before video even existed, these 2D puzzles force you to decipher clever wordplay, remember names taken from current events, and choose between multiple potential solutions To solve the puzzle, find specific words that fit together as intended.

Crosswords are a reminder that your first attempt at answering a question may be correct on some level, but may require revision as other factors come up.

Instead of just regurgitating the answers that are given to you as clearly as possible in the edited story — with the option to ignore the general premise as “fake news” if you like — if you choose not to accept the crossword answers in front of you, you will simply lose the game.

As with other games, from football to poker, the rules are clearly laid out in black and white. In the world of crossword puzzles, if your personal opinion doesn't fit in the spaces provided or doesn't match the pre-determined correct answers to intersecting crossword puzzle words, no one cares!

There's no room to express your dissatisfaction with the answer or its hint, and conversely, you won't have to deal with anyone else's feedback while you're working on solving the puzzle. If you “decide to disagree” with a crossword answer, you are simply wrong; game over.

Out with ethics, join the Internet!

This is a traditional approach to knowledge that has disappeared from the world of journalism in recent years. Today, what passes for journalism in our post-truth society is often simply the rehashing of various random opinions on a topic, most of which appear to be chosen to cause outrage or shock. You can blame the Internet for this.

Of course, before the advent of the Internet, lies, bias and propaganda existed, but they were also exposed and debunked by journalists who sought to get to the bottom of things to reveal the “truth”, even as our understanding of truth gradually evolved as we have come to collectively accept different realities as our civilization has evolved.

News used to strive to make us smarter and better prepared to understand the world. It is a kind of science that proposed theories and tried to determine whether they were true or not. The scientific pursuit of journalism was usually paid for by advertising, but the reporting and advertising that made it financially possible were religiously shared by a sacred code of professional ethics.

In recent decades, the high priests of old-world journalism have been defeated by upstart techies who have developed alternative information superhighways that bypass stuffy editorial boards and allow you, the reader, to draw your own conclusions based on any trail. facts linked by hyperlinks that you choose to follow.

Perhaps doing your own research might lead you to conclude that the world is actually flat, that life-saving drugs were a conspiracy, and that your neighbor is not actually human and therefore has no inalienable rights.

You might even come to the conclusion that eating packets of soap will make you cool, because apparently everyone else was eating it too. You can even find videos depicting this reality or any other reality of your choice.

Reminder not to eat laundry detergent capsules.

You can also reject any (or all!) scientific findings from the last few centuries. You might even decide to simply deny all levels of human progress in everything from civil rights to our basic understanding that in order to have a functional society, we must compromise and respect each other.

The Internet, which was supposed to connect and share our intelligence and knowledge, instead became a place where stupidity made you a celebrity rather than a laughing stock, and the very concept of truth and decency became harder to defend against critics than teenage fantasies about communism. .

Rather than accepting the reality that civilization is a concerted effort to build a better future together, the “reality” in the new metaverse is whatever is fashionable at the moment, regardless of whether it is actually an improvement — or even real.

On the Internet. your personal reality can be whatever you want it to be, just like your own sense of style— or whatever your tiny pocket niche of online community tells you it should be today. You may even create a reality for yourself that contradicts itself, or accept a particular reality that works for you and then deny the same to others.

Imagine an aging white guy (like me) seeking a facelift and testosterone therapy to better align my appearance with my inner sense of the masculine, manly young man I identify as — but then I turn and point a finger at the generation behind me, as if they shouldn't have the same rights to self-determination.

The Internet has its own whims— no matter how flimsy or toxic— can trump everyone else's rights if you can shout them loud enough and attract a monetized crowd of followers.

Before the Internet, if people wanted to be Nazis, flat Earthers or John Birchers, or refuse medical care for their children, they had to make some effort in the face of social resistance. Today it has become controversial to protest against oppression and violence while Nazi soap boxes are given away for free— and then promoted— from America's richest man, the new owner of the world's coolest blowpipes.

If you're a deeply stupid idiot, or a classless, hateful bore, or a sarcastic liar, and you're setting dumpster fires all around, there's no end to the microphones eager to amplify your rants at no cost to you.

The Scourge of Advertising Surveillance

Why? This is all because Internet advertising surveillance has created a huge money pipe that flows fastest when society is pushed back.

The more disgusting, stupid or destructively false and destructive an idea is, the more outraged looks it is likely to attract— whether they support it, laugh at it, or are so dumbfounded that they have to explore this terrible curiosity in more detail. Even self-proclaimed intellectual critics become promoters of garbage, if only to show everyone how absurd it is and how it should make them upset about nonsense and garbage.

Aim the nasty bait of “engagement” at people's faces and then place it between interstitials and you have the power of old media journalism on steroids, without having to pay anyone to care. ethics, facts or even spelling or basic logic.

Tear down that righteous firewall between journalistic content and paid commercial posts (which once kept them carefully crafted at a respectful distance), then fire journalists and their editors, all moderators and anyone else who has any or principles, and now you get paid to display content that you don't even have to create yourself.

The world is full of people who are ready to rake out garbage content that has zero or possibly negative value— totally free!

You can pay a few “influencers” of obscure value to come up with an illusory portrayal of some fictional reality through memorable or at least momentarily attention-grabbing images or video clips. They can attract huge audiences who will devote hours of their time surfing endless waves of garbage just to feel something— perhaps it's an ephemeral emotional chord that makes them laugh out loud, at least in the sense of text memes, rather than laughing and doing anything out loud. As they want, they repost and plagiarize, you monetize!

Before the advent of the commercial Internet, we imagined the worst possible dystopian future, where we were oppressed by an all-controlling centralized state that tried to force everyone to believe in a meaningless, contradictory way. Newspeak is nonsense.

Thanks to online advertising that can follow our thoughts and then guide us down whatever path we choose — regardless of whether they were sent secretly or pushed without any barriers — we find ourselves in a place as dark as 1984, but much dumber.

Apple advertising “1984”, but with “Fortnite” characters, as they did at the beginning of the lawsuit against Epic Games.

So many people today choose to believe in any conspiracy other than the one we're actually participating in, where every layer of the stack is optimized only to generate ad revenue through outrageous engagement metrics.

The Big Brother of ad surveillance dictates how long even a how-to video clip should be, forcing us to wade through extras that ensure we watch as many ads as possible before being presented with a meager set of useful information .

Want to quickly meet up with friends or talk about current events? Here's an advertisement for something you just bought, and here's some outrageous thing said by a member of the other party, distorted to the point of particularly absurdity! Here's a link to the rabbit hole, but first another ad and then some random video clip of who knows what will distract you, like a deliberately disorienting room inside a casino. How is it already 5 am?

Apple, save society, how you save the world

So it's nice that Apple News now offers a new alternative to our attention that doesn't seek to radicalize our worst impulses or outrage us with catchy headlines that provoke us to click and pounce on whatever trash bin some algorithm has determined will catch fire and burn. the hottest between paid commercial breaks that make this garbage barely glow enough to demand our attention.

Of course, Apple does run ads here and there, too, but its revenue mostly comes from upfront sales of actual hardware and services, not from amassing piles of outrageous but cheap content to trick people. “to be a product.”

However, despite the offer — with incredible success— As an alternative ad surveillance business model to that pursued by most of its tech competitors, Apple is unfortunately tiptoeing toward slowly offering the same turd sandwich.

iOS push notifications should have avoided ads

In particular, Apple has allowed developers and sellers to increasingly use their own push notification servers as another channel for advertising and spam. Remember when Steve Jobs insisted that the company's newly created push notifications didn't allow advertising?

Unfortunately, Apple's current leadership has missed the boat, instead focusing on planting forests and reducing carbon emissions.

Climate change is certainly a bigger and more important issue than just wasting time with a never-ending river of advertising warnings that violate the clear guarantees the company gave us back in the days of iOS 3 (in 2009!), that this will never be allowed to happen.

Apple News is now available on almost all Apple devices.

However, Apple can walk and chew gum at the same time, as demonstrated in the latest version of Apple News, which offers crossword puzzles as a pleasant and educational reprieve from the rivers of modernist two-way journalism. flows through the rest of Apple News.

Apple's news partners clearly rely on artificial intelligence to create large amounts of low-value filler content that serves no other purpose than to create a hedging bet for the company on a dangerous move toward a regressive surveillance culture of ads sneaking between the illusion of a self-regulating reality.

So perhaps between planting more mangroves, giving up leather, etc. Apple needs to make a serious course correction and stop being just another Meta/X/Google and instead hit the brakes on spam in notices to reduce its growing influence in the field of smart climate change.

It would be in vain to save the world, but what we would end up with is a useless, stupid society that has foolishly traded its golden humanity for a shiny nickel in the form of surveillance advertising.

So please Apple, more valuable content like new crossword puzzles in News and let's deal with this out of control ad notification spam.

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