Category Archives: Newspapers – Journaux

Free Internet? Please, and I want Adblock to go with it.

I read this article today saying that Adblocking could “remove” £12bn in advertising by 2020. I don’t see you can remove something that is not there to begin with but let’s go with it.

The following picture show you all the related articles where Adblock is basically the new evil and its users should be rebaptised Damian or at least accept their mothers to be called Rosemary.

ScreenHunter_002

As you can see Adblock is everywhere. Including on both my current laptops, all my former and future ones.

Before I go into why I have Adblock, my issue is: 100 000 000 devices have it. For the sake of the argument, let’s say that one device = one person, are these people living miserable lives because we have no adverts? Have we stopped buying cars, clothes, food and other goods because of that lack of something that is talked about as if it was essential to our survival? Have we completely isolated ourselves from the rest of the world by not force-feeding ourselves with ads on a regular basis? Have we all become hermits refusing to give in to materialism and over-consumption? Are we unaware of what’s new and are therefore doomed to eternally live in the past? Are we now in a parallel world? Do we even exist?

The answer to these questions is obviously “No.”

100 million people. That’s a country-worth of people beyond borders, culture, language, age, gender who can live a normal life without ads so what are they for in the first place?

Ads have been presented as a way to keep us inform of novelty. They are is aimed at the people to encourage them to make the right choice because choice is endless today and how are we ever going to be able to make the right one if an advert doesn’t show us the light?

These words are not mine but the ones of a friend who works in advertising. When he told me that, I couldn’t help but remembering the Eddy’s rant from Ab Fab at another PR person:

“You! You attached to that crap-ad man over there. The king of bastardisation that just takes everything that is ever real and and genuine honest and original to attach it to a toilet cleaner! I don’t more choice, I just want nicer things!”

That’s excatly the point we make in one of the articles you see above: we don’t like the ads and it turns out we don’t need them, we can make choices of our own through experiencing and searching. We needn’t be force-fed.

Nothing has changed in terms of advertisement between today and yesteryear. They still are as patronising, infantilising, irrelevant, stupid, deceiving as they always were so we don’t believe what they say. We heard it all before. They have been watched on TV, listened to on the radio, read in newspapers and magazines. My generation grew up with them in the background of everything like a mosquito buzzing in your ear on a hot summer night when you try to sleep. We have learnt to ignore them, change channel, flick through, leave the room. We have also grown wary of their ridiculous claims and terrible acting that makes want to hammer the TV and the radio to dust, the same way we end screaming in the night and fumigating the whole room to oblivion.

Take any ad to sell us cleaning products. Jesus Christ! I cannot believe these desert of intelligence are actually the outcomes of countless meetings and millions of pounds. All for talking toilets?!

“Please someone! Just make shut the fuck up!”

Now we can! That’s the difference. It’s brilliant and it’s Adblock! I can actually enjoy watching, listening, reading without someone telling  me my life is over if I don’t get the latest Tampax. The one that allows me to climb on my boyfriend’s shoulders because I don’t want to cross the river with my shoes…I am man, why do I care?!

It’s not about skipping anymore, it’s about removing them altogether, enjoying the freedom away from their overbearingness and contempt.

When they don’t completely overshot and encourage my best friend, a Polish Catholic, to go on a dating website for single Muslim women just because she is friend with an Algerian guy on Facebook, they reduce all of us to nothing but wallets that need to be emptied. We have to buy! What are we waiting for?! 30% off on all vitamin C complements at Tesco’s, it’s madness!…Madness? Really?! Do I need that much vitamin C?  Can’t I get strawberries?

Well that’s perfect, the next ad shows me there is a Buy one get one free offer on all strawberry boxes at Sainsbury’s! That’s madness!…Are they any good or half rotten as usual?

And that’s when ads don’t actually cost money per say. Having a I-phone 4S, I don’t have the adblock app so I cannot read the Guardian when outside because most of my data roaming goes to download endless banners I never see on my laptops. That’s my own money down the drain for ads I don’t care for.

There is also the fancy graphics. Once I was cut out of the Guardian website for three weeks because the main advert was some kind of gif/video that couldn’t load. So I kept getting the “Sorry, the page did not load properly, we try again”…for almost a month! I played Wordfeud and sod trying to keep informed.

So yes, we have Adblock to be free of all that and to be able to enjoy something that is proudly and loudly advertised as free. And the truth comes out. The ads have nothing to do with us and everything to do with companies: the ones selling their products and the ones being paid to allow them to sell their products on their “free” platform. The ads are the key to Free Internet.

If social media are free, YouTube is free, newspapers are free on the Internet, it’s because the companies are buying advertising space. Just like they do on TV. Like we say in French: Tout se paie.

Hence the vilification of Adblock: it’s a threat to Free Internet. Without ads, everything will have to be actually paid for or will be doomed to disappearance. I and all the other Adblock-lovers are killing free internet, it’s our fault if websites close for lack of revenue.

In the UK,  the culture secretary said “the fast-growing use of software that blocked advertising presented an existential threat to the newspaper and music industries”. We are selfish, irresponsible bastards, it turns out.

Maybe I was naive but for me Free Internet meant free as uncensored, unedited by anyone expect creators accordingly to their own will and desire. For me, when someone puts something on the Internet and claim it is free, it is free, end of. There are no strings attached.

But I understand now. The word “free” has two meaning: freedom and not-to-be-paid-for. And the fact is: they don’t actually come together. Youtube is free to use for us but relying heavily on private cooperation to find revenues, they also have imperatives that come with this imperative.

Nothing has changed, it’s traditional media all over again but within the new media. Except for one glitch in the system: Adblock. So in the face of dissent, companies are realising that the Internet is more flexible, at the day of the end people have the power and won’t give in. So it turns out not to be the goldmine they expect to dig dry and they have second thoughts. And everyone is panicking.

That brings my final existential question about Internet: how can you pretend to be the essence of Free Internet and Internet Neutrality when the availability of your content, its independence and transparency are depending on the whims of private companies?

If your independence and transparency are threatened by the unwillingness of your audience to be force-fed ads made by and allocated for private companies, what you do doesn’t sound “free” and “neutral” to me, rather dependent and heavily controlled.

Private companies have an agenda. There is nothing such as selflessness when it comes to them – whatever they do. They have money to make, an image to build and maintain, customers to reach and I know, because I owe many blogs, that ad space also means a line of editing. I was offered countless times and always refuse. The temptation is great but I know that means sacrifice and bias.

I also learned about that through some of my favourite YouTubers who talk openly about the process of sponsored videos for instance. The fact is that every single sponsored video has to be reviewed by the company prior to being posted to make sure there is nothing that would could potentially be damaging to them – directly or indirectly.

Others said they have been contacted by companies willing to do business just to back down when they found out the channel was run by a gay couple or a hijab-wearing girl or a feminist activist. Nothing is free and rarely innocent when companies are involved. They put their money when the mouths are speaking what they want to hear.

What is killing the Free Internet and its Neutrality is not adblocking but its utter reliance on the money of private companies. What’s killing the Free Internet is that it hasn’t been able to truly find a viable alternative to actually be genuinely free. There is a whole part of the Internet that has truly failed in providing a new model and bowed to ones who run everything in the real world so they also have the reins in the virtual world.

We, however, have made a decision: we want to be free of ads and be careful, Le Monde, other news outlets and social media that are trying to force them on us, look at what happened to TV and you’ll find you are not irreplaceable. Time to go back to the drawing board but there is hope: we are ready to pay for the lack of ads, see Netflix.

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The witch-hunt and Tim Hunt

Let’s talk about Tim Hunt and the witch-hunt of which he is a victim…according to many people.

Hunt is a Nobel laureate in his 70’s who thought it would be funny to address a room full of women, during some kind of dinner for women in science, to say that mixed labs were a bad thing because “women cry” when facing criticism and men like him cannot concentrate and do their jobs properly because of the physical attraction they feel for the said women.

Someone tweeted what he said, the storm mounted and he was forced to resign from the University College of London for being a sexist pig, to cut the story short. It’s all over the papers if you want more details.

I said “tried to be funny” but actually we don’t know because he first said that it was a joke but also that he was sticking to his comment. Then he said he was confused, nervous and did not know what to do or say exactly. Then he said he was misquoted then there was an article in the Guardian where he says that nobody had asked him for his version of events. Sorry love, but we did find it pretty self-sufficient when you said you were sticking with the idea that evil women were a bad influence on poor men.

An article where his feminist wife says she would have never married him if he were a sexist pig basically, as if it were relevant to anything. Then some people, including women (because every woman speaks in the name of the 4 billion other women, obviously) went to the media to say his dismissal was unfair and the reaction had been disproportionate.

He complains that he was in the plane when he got his notice, he says it was not the right way to do thing and now friends and family, colleagues and ex-students are coming to not criticise his medieval reading of society but to try and put the focus on how he was pushed out. To make him the victim in this story.

Now let’s take the arguments one by one.

The status of women to begin with. What I see in all condemnation and attempts to focus the debate on him as a victim is that it is still okay to use age-old, hackneyed stereotypes about women as a joke, as he pretends to have done in the first place. “Women do not have their place in the labs because they cry when people disagree with them”. Mr Hunt, whatever his intentions were, has obviously not evolved the least since his twenties in the mid-1960s. He still lives in a world where women are crying for nothing and where crying is an act of weakness, and unfair because it brings men to their emotional knees – whether it triggers anger, annoyance or pity.

Women cry because, like babies, they cannot express themselves differently when they see they are losing the argument so they are bringing on the tears hoping to put the men they are working with in a position where he feels like an awful executioner, hoping he will just give in.

For those who are still finding ground to say it was tongue in cheek, let’s consider this hackneyed , sexist cliché and replace it with a hackneyed, racist cliché that would go as such: “Mix-raced labs are not working because black people are lazy so it makes the work of white people even harder”. Or even worst: “Black people are violent when facing with criticism so mix-raced labs are a danger to white people’s lives.” Not so funny anymore, is it? He would have been fired too, had he said something like that. Would people be making him a victim? Would people try to convince the world that his employer should have acted differently?

No.

Why?

Because racism is beyond the pale and we expect people to have moved on from 1950s views of people with a different skin colour. No company or institution would put up with such a level of bovine, racist idiocy and no one would dare try to defend him by saying that people need to lighten up and have a bit more humour. Why not with outdated views of women? Because beyond race and wealth, women are still considered as lesser than men so it is fine to be sexist, even for fun.

The daily fight to encourage women to be in science, the endless fight to make people understand that women are not lesser than men is a fight as important and crucial as the fight against racist prejudice. This is why I support the firing of Tim Hunt.

Then there is the argument, he said he would not deviate from, about women being a distraction to men. Women are pretty, attractive and it makes it very difficult for men like him (he said words for words) to concentrate and work. He said people fall in love and it changes their priorities and clouds their judgement. So we have to separate men and women…especially women that need to get out of the labs where men are…because they were there first, I presume.

First of all, it doesn’t add up to the reality of couple and marriage. Most people marry within their own profession because we do spent most of our lives working. As far as the economy is concerned, love is not the most damaging factor to productivity.

But no matter, the same way some school are still unisex, one would think: why not? Only-male labs and only-female labs could be good.

No, they would not for we still live in a world where Nobel laureate publicly said that women are irrationally and cunningly emotional so funding for female-only labs would be close to none with all the investors going for the serious, male-led labs.

And why stop at labs? What about male-only companies where men can concentrate on work at all time without the fear of being accidentally attracted to a female? I can make a huge list of stupid ideas like that…I worked in a boys school for years and there not being any girls doesn’t change anything to how the boys are performing. Countries where single-sex schools have close to disappeared are not at the bottom of the league when it comes to how their students are performing.

Apart from this, the argument Mr Hunt is giving is that he cannot control himself, he has no will power to focus on the task in hand when women are here. They distract him with their attractive femininity – when they don’t guilt-trip him with their tears.  And he puts all men in the same bag as him. Is it his Nobel prize that allows him to speak for all of them?

The fact is: in his mind, the focus should not be trying to address the fact that adult men like him are still behaving like teenagers in a professional environment such as labs, we should instead remove women.

That’s the same argument the Talibans and other various religious fundamentalists of all kinds have to force women to wear the burqa or stay at home behind the opacity of its walls. When you listen to their arguments, they say women are a distraction, they are a temptation. They say it is in their nature to appeal, to attract, to seduce the men and divert him from his true goal: religion and God. Replace religion by work and God by science and you have Mr Hunt’s “funny” or “confused” exposé.

I am sure his feminist wife has something to say about the comparison but as far as I am concerned, it is quite striking. Old, sex-obsessed males who think women are the reason for their unholy or unfocussed self and should be removed.

Why do people defend such a view? Why is he the victim when he says such things? Why is the victim of a so-called ‘self-righteous witch-hunt’ when he just put 52% of the world population in the same boat labelled “To get out of sight”?

Finally, there is Mr Hunt himself. If you look carefully at all that has been said by him recently, we have a man who uses casual sexism as a mean to be funny, who then says he was confused and nervous, did not what to say, say one thing then the opposite in the same sentence, and uses his wife’s credential to justify an open and mature mind he can’t show himself.

He seems to have lost touch with the outside world and to not exactly know the ins and outs of anything, especially when he makes sexist jokes at a women in science dinner, in front of women. This is not just a error of judgement but sheer lunacy. Not a good place where you are working as a renowned teacher.

As far as I am concerned, such men are and should remain a thing of the past and his forced resignation is just the enactment of this. You can again accuse women or political correctness, like his defenders are doing right now. “It’s all because of Twitter!”. No, it isn’t.  What’s to blame is casual chauvinism and the self-entitlement of old men who think their working prowesses render them forever untouchable.

University College London realised that Mr Hunt’s credentials as a Nobel laureate were not strong enough to balance his outdated behaviour so they decided to lay him off because he became a liability to their future. A future that lays in mixed labs with grown-up and professional men and women who act as such.

There is one and only person to blame for Mr Hunt’s downfall is Mr Hunt himself.

A woman is raped, let’s talk about the rapist’s career…

This thought popped into my head as I woke up:

“Oscar Pistorius and Ched Evans.
A woman was killed and another was raped but all the sport community seems to be able to talk about is the effect on the killer’s and rapist’s career.
Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose…”

Then I opened the Guardian…

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/oct/17/oscar-pistorius-ched-evans

Damn!…Well at least, I am not the only one to think the discussion focuses on the wrong issue.

I’ll read it and see if I have more to say on the subject. Which I always do.