There’s not enough people up here for billboards. I noticed that on the drive in. Driving through Nevada, Idaho, North Dakota. The populations of the counties starts to dip, and with it goes the advertising. Its like that old saying about the tree falling: if a billboard is erected in the middle of a deserted road, will anyone see it? I guess that analogy’s filled with holes, but H.G. seemed to agree with me on the way up (Isaac was taking a nap at the time, he’s not much of a thinker anyway). Its kind of pleasant driving around this part of the States. When I trundle off to Thief River, the only distraction on the road is the huge expanse of wilderness all around me. No beaming toothpaste big grins or stern Hollywood grimaces.
Its probably for the best really, I’m very susceptible to advertising. My internet went live yesterday, the one modern commodity that I would die without (I have an outhouse about 50 yards from my back door, totally fine with it). A big old satellite dish stuck on top of my little shack in the middle of nowhere, makes me look like a crackpot UFO hunter—I just want the option to watch some Netflix from time to time. Still, getting back on the grid means the return of advertising. I’ve got AdBlockers set up (I lived and breathed Silicon Valley for years, remember?) but the internet’s essentially one big advertising newspaper.
You see when you launch a search in Google (like you use anything else, right?) little bots run off at the speed of light to diligently bring you back what they think is most relevant. Now they’re quick, but not so smart. A few clever clogs figured this out a few years ago, and found out a way of tricking the bots into thinking that their sites were more relevant to certain search terms than others. This gave them a foot up on the ladder above the other boys and girls who hadn’t been so smart—and so began SEO.
So regardless of the lack of billboards or pop-ads, I’m always being advertised to. Whenever I’m looking to buy a new hard drive or maybe a new toy for Isaac, the first fifteen or so results will have just been manoeuvred there by some SEO company in Liverpool. Patiently seeding the internet with little falsifications to satiate their clients. I’m still going to buy the hard drive and Isaac, well, he always gets what he wants.