|Tim Wu's book, “The Attention Merchants,”and his op-ed Sunday, "Mother Nature Is Brought to You By"|
Tim Wu, has just brought out a second brilliant new book, “The Attention Merchants” (just put on the Canadian Globe’s list of 100 best books of the year.) Wu’s first brilliant book, which also helped make him the official father of the term “net neutrality” (predicted to be under attack by the Trump/Republican regime), was “The Master Switch.”
Wu is a law professor at Columbia Law, but you may also know him as the candidate for lieutenant governor along side Zephyr Teachout when she ran for governor in the last race. You may remember and have been a part of the event the Teachout campaign held with Citizens Defending Libraries.
It’s always good to have Mr. Wu helping us to defend libraries.
Writes Wu (emphasis supplied):
The spread of advertising to natural settings is just a taste of what's coming. Over the next decade, prepare for a new wave of efforts to reach some of the last remaining bastions of peace, quiet and individual focus - like schools, libraries, churches and even our homes.In his op-ed Mr. Wu suggests the very “model of individual liberty and a self-reliant citizenry” as proposed by our country’s founders is at stake when we no longer have available “sufficient time and space for self-development of character and room for making decisions that are truly ours.”
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. . . the leaders of schools, libraries and even the more principled technology firms should understand that there is always a hidden cost to the proposition offered by advertising. Once an institution is dependent on ad revenue, it's impossible to put the Crest 3D White Radiant Mint toothpaste back in the tube.
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Advertising revenue often seems like “free money,” but there are enormous risks for the character of any institution once it begins to rely heavily on advertising income. History and logic suggest that, once advertisers become a major funding source, they create their own priorities, and unless carefully controlled they will warp the underlying space to serve their interests.
Among other startling things Mr. Wu brings up: Paid product placement in Sunday Sermons!. . .
. . . Doesn’t that just turn on its head what Reverend Billy of the Church of Stop Shopping has been preaching about. . . Reverend Billy may reach out for humorous satire in making his points, but don’t ever think everything he is saying isn’t at its heart very serious.
You’ll want to read Mr. Wu’s op-ed for its own sake (plus proposed solutions) and as a tantalizing teaser for what’s in store for you when you read “The Attention Merchants.” The first pages of his new book start with a description of local government sell-outs that turn schools into partnerships with private corporations who promise to use the school’s spaces to advertise responsibly to school children about how they should ceratin fast food vendors foods and. . . . That sounds so much like the Brooklyn Public Library trustees being told that librarians will have to be taught to unlearn what they have learned in library school about assisting people in their research so that they can concentrate instead of finding private entities to “partner with.”
(Tim Wu was at Book Culture this week in conversation with Mara Einstein, author of the new book: “Black Ops Advertising,” also about advertising that perniciously pursues you.)