I received an unwanted solicitation from the New York Review of Books in the mail. “FOR YOUR USE ONLY - DISCOUNT CODE: DPBJ17T”. Please remove my name and address from your mailing list. I would also like to know how you got my contact information, as I haven’t authorized any organization to sell my personal info to other advertisers.

I’m sure you are a lovely publication that’s absolutely worth my time and money. In fact, this article looks moderately interesting. I’m going to try and read it right now. It could motivate me to subscribe to your publication through the web or print.

Sending me junk mail absolutely will not. Please stop. Thank you.

I got two magazine subscriptions for christmas this year - Funny Times and Harpers. I also enjoyed reading articles from Nautilus and bought a subscription while I was in the mood to support worthwhile media. Around the same time I received a promotional offer from The New Yorker that wasn’t quite convincing.

I now receive postal junk mail from publications I would term a mix of left-leaning, east coast, liberal, and/or “elite”. All I’m sure would catch my eye in any format other than unwanted solicitation. I’m writing this not to complain, but to showcase of one of my favorite computer programs (dotjs) and think out loud through the idea of filter bubbles and ad blocking.


…is one of my favorite computer things. It allows me a small amount of control over the internet by reprogramming sites with javascript and css. (“tweak the web”). It’s a browser extension that injects custom javascript (from it’s namesake directory, ~/.js) into any website.

When something on the web bothers me enough, I can spend five odd minutes and re-program things how I want them to work. Usually this means deleting ad clutter from a webpage. Or replacing the facebook newsfeed with choice “inspirational” quotes. Perhaps moulding things a bit more to my liking.

It’s my computer. Even though it’s not my internet, because it all happens on my computer it’s within my control to make a few tweaks and have everything the way I like it.

Filters, bubbles, ads, and blocking

If only everything worked that way. Junk postal mail, for instance. Even worthwhile transactional mail. Why can’t I program medical bills that come in the mail with a ‘pay now’ button? (Because it’s real life. I’m sure there will soon be a virtual-reality enhanced mail opening experience. And I’m unsure if I will ever want that.)

I don’t watch much TV. And when I do consume media I’m empowered in a similar way to when I web-browse - TV shows download themselves onto my computer, pre-screened with all advertisements removed (via usenet + sickbeard). The movies and shows I watch, similar to the books and websites I read, come from where I already am. Which goes to say I only see the things I want to see. I read the things I already want to read. If I don’t like something, I go one step further than ignoring it - I build rules into my system to ensure I won’t have to ever see it again. I change it to work in a way that makes me happy.

As the world continues to consolidate experiences that once happened in the physical and hard to control world into services that are delivered wrapped in a veil of digital individuality, what happens to the social contract that once held us all together? This isn’t an original thought.

Now for politics - rant warning

I made a flippant prediction over a year ago - that the upcoming US presidential election would be decided more than any previous based on social media. This also isn’t a groundbreaking statement. It’s happening because we’ve trapped ourselves within the walls immature tech echo chambers.

But I can’t adblock the next president.

—21 Sep 2016