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Wednesday, 07 February 2018


My favorite infuriating 'feature': articles that require you to click to move to the next page; but a tiny fraction of a second before you click, an unrelated crap ad link dives under your cursor and diverts you somewhere you really, *really* don't want to go.
Makes me want to swear off the website hosting these parasite links forever.

Well, it does make you pay attention, so you don't click on crap. Like watching where you walk.

Ad Blockers are your friend. If a site won't let me in because I use one, well the heck with them. I move on to someone less hostile. I also use a plugin that stops videos from auto playing. it's all about taking control back from the advertisers. The tools are out there.

This is a nice, quiet corner of the internet. That's part of the reason why I like coming here so much. No pop ups. No damned auto-play videos. Thanks for keeping the opinions you've just expressed in mind when you select ads for this site. It's much appreciated.

Why do liberals get blamed for everything?

All is not lost. Its still possible to find small, local, sites -like TOP- run by moderately sane folk who are passionate about their interests :). I find that running an adblocker helps, but then you get messages saying 'we see that you're running an adblocker ...'.

I agree about e-mail. Messages from real people seem to have dwindled to a trickle as actual friends increasingly adopt a bewilderingly array of modes of communication - texting, Facebook even!

And don't get me started on Amazon!!! The ever seductive face of Capitalism offering us instant wish fulfillment at the expense of someone else's dystopian employment conditions. Hopefully the internet can be reclaimed from tax avoiding corporate platforms.

Haha, I hope you realize that "drek" part of "robo-drek" is Croatian (and Bosnian/Slovenian/Serbian/Macedonian) word for "shit". :D

Use Gmail's website for email -- its spam filter is very close to perfect. Plus you can set it to divide non-spam emails into four different tabs automatically: Primary, Social, Promotions, and Updates. Your Primary tab will be just the good stuff. Fantastic.

What browser and ad-blocker are you using? Chrome with the Adblock Plus extension is one good choice -- and you can white-label sites you want to allow ads on. There are other good combinations as well.

You nailed it. In an attempt for the internet to provide open and widespread communication of ideas, it has ruined the possibility of focused information and conversation. Perhaps one could search for information in a library, and converse over a game of checkers at the park.

Seems you're ripe for a dose of adblocker... I 100% do get your point, but reading the internet is much less daunting with an adblocker (I still have AdBlockPlus but have read uBlockOrigin is better, apart from the idiocy of the "acceptable ads" feature).


And even if you use an ad-blocker, an increasing number of sites check for them and refuse to let you continue reading unless you turn it off/white-list them...

i agree with this post. I have rrecently resorted to print out the best articles, then I read them in the evening after the screen is off. It is like the old days when I pleasantly read magazine articles. And, of course, I pring both sides for Eco reasons.

Mike, you have a pc or mac? I have a mac, fairly new, and use gmail for my emails. It has a set of filters: primary, social, and promotions.
I never open the last two, and don't worry about it. If you are really into Facebook and such you can open social and see if anybody want to talk to you.
I do get an occasional ad showing up on some of the photo sites I visit, but nothing too intrusive, and nothing animated.
I must be lucky or old, maybe both.

Yes, exactly, agreed.

I have an ad blocker but even then some sites have pop ups imploring/instructing me to turn it off.

The vast landscape of annoying things that web pages do is ever-changable, but allow me to recommend 'Click To Plugin'...it's an extension for Safari. It really helps.
Also, search out 'stopping autoplay on Safari'...there was a setting that worked a few months ago** that stopped video from autoplaying.
**Just because it worked a few months ago doesn't mean it still does. I said 'ever-changable', right?

I detest all the ads on your website. Please get rid of them . They are extremely annoying!

"Where will we all go next, to simply communicate and attempt to form some semblance of a community?"

A quiet dinner at a friend's home but leave your smartphone at the door.

Well advertising / personal information is the trade we make for free content on the Internet. I don't use an ad blocker for this reason.

However, I simply don't visit the sites with intrusive ads as much or even at all. Hopefully, such sites will get the message?


Totally agree. As soon as a video plays, I quit. I now have a limited number of sites I will visit, TOP being one of them, which is unfortunate. Even the New York Times, which I pay for jumps all over because of moving ads and has pop ups. You nailed it Mike, ruin. The Online Photogher is a respite from all that, thank you.

Have ruined. Past tense.

Use an ad blocker (whitelist sites with well-behaved ads, like this one). Use reader mode whenever possible. Don't patronize sites like the one you described.

Please forgive the use of the imperative tense and consider one or more of the following.

1) Download an AdBlocker.
2) Disable or Unistall "Flash" (but,wait, you're "Mac" right?).
3) Go into your browser settings and enable the setting that disables/blocks any site that is tracking your personal data (you'll be surprised how much of your ad-trash this cleans up).
4) Turn off your speakers.
5) Use your browser's "Private Browsing" feature to read your random articles.
6) Prohibit your browser from sharing cookies.
7) Blow off steam on TOP.

An observation: The thing that hard-core free marketeers routinely forget is that the market operates in the moral space that we (society) allows it. This is why we can prohibit noxious practices like slavery, even though there may be a thriving market for it. Or put another way, a willing buyer and a willing seller still have to obey the law.

The problem is, I think, that once one embraces the idea of free speech, one has to confront the fact that much of it is stuff one doesn't particularly want to hear. Personally, I don't ever need to see an ad for a prescription drug. I rely on my doc for those recommendations. My answer: I don't have a television. I suspect a lot of your readers will have their own justifications for jettisoning their TV's.

The nut that no one has been able to crack is: How do you make money on the Internet _without_ advertising? The only current alternatives seem to be to sell something like access (e.g. Luminous Landscape, NY Times, ReidReviews) or a product/service (e.g. Blurb). Sites like TOP or dpreview have very targeted (and in my view, unoffensive) advertising, but most web sites don't have as focused a clientèle as TOP. So everyone is trying to develop a revenue stream, and the current gruesomeness is clearly the current path of least resistance. What's the answer? A "PBS/NPR" model? Dunno. It will take a smarter reader than I to crack that nut.

I agree. I use Google Chrome on a Mac Mini with the following extensions:

- uBlock Origin
- Flash Control
- Disable HTML5 Autoplay

These extensions gave me back a normal browser experience, vastly improved, turning off all that crap. I'm very grateful for these extensions.

For email I use Google Inbox/Gmail which does a very nice job of filtering Spam, very little gets through, at least in my case.

A-men about reading on line, I find the NY Times and The Washington Post particularly annoying to read because of the ads and texts disappearing. I continue to write photo cards and letters to people, using a "fountain pen" with ink. There is tactile pleasure in inserting items in envelopes, addressing and affixing stamps that pressing "send" fails to provide.

Gee, it's not just me? Of course, I knew it wasn't but your description is dead on. I can't tell you how many articles I would have read except for the barrage of advertising that irritated me to the point that I closed the page instead.

Annnd then there is email. Twice in the last couple of years, I have made a point to total up the money that I was requested to donate to politicians, organizations, and charities in the course of the day. Both times the total exceeded $1200 and that was if I gave only the *MINIMUM* that was requested. Would that I was so rich.

You'll need to resort to using extensions like NoScript and uBlock Origin for your browser. Not ideal as many sites will break, but then again I consider most sites already broken as you've pointed out.


Beyond turning on the ad blocker, I would just highlight the text you want to read, copy it to a text-only program (like Notepad) and read it from that. No pictures or ads will copy over to it.

Or use a text-only browser like Lynx or these others: https://merabheja.com/12-text-only-browsers-for-browsing-in-slow-internet-connections/

Not only do you avoid ads and distractions, web pages download in a split second without the added baggage!

AMEN brother, AMEN!

This retired chemistry professor has been using the internet beginning in the early 1980's. That is, since it was limited to a bunch of academic and scientific organizations with absolutely zero commercial activity

Thus, I feel your pain at least doubly.

Additionally (as someone who has not owned a television since my eldest child was three or four years old; roughly 1985), what strikes me, on the rare occasions that I spend any time at all around an active TV, is that both the programming and the advertisements are designed for someone with an attention span of roughly twenty milliseconds... ugh!

For a short while, Ad blocker extensions helped keep the tsunami of advertisements under control. But now, when you go to some web pages, a pop-up box states "We see you have an ad-blocker. Turn it off to see our content." No, go shove it up your wazoo. I don't need to see your content. That is how my wife and I feel about most commercial TV, as well, and we dumped the cable years ago.

Whatever happened to white space?

When you connect to most commercial websites on the Internet, you are not the customer, you’re the product. The site’s maintainers are trying to extract as much information as possible about you to sell to the real customers: their advertisers.

Yes, they are.

Read books.

At the right end of your browser's url address field there's an icon that looks like a page of text. It's the "reader's view" function. Click on it and it should eliminate all the distracting garbage you're complaining about.

Different browsers' "reader view" functionalities are more or less effective. Firefox works very well for me. Your Apple Crapple mileage may vary. :-)

One of my other favourite bloggers is a man called Bob Hoffman, who writes a blog called The Ad Contrarian (Is a link OK?
http://adcontrarian.blogspot.ie/) You've captured perfectly the experience that he rails agains. Although you have done so far more politely.

There is an appropriate technical/content distinction, I believe. The Internet per se is only a transport medium, neutral infrastructure.

The seriously annoying aspects that you mention are consciously chosen features of individual web sites embedded by those sites to bring in revenue and help pay the content creators.

Other, better sites work as does TOP, with reimbursed purchase linkage or reduced ads and a paywall, such as the New York Times and Washington Post.

One way or another, some form of revenue generation is needed - the choice is whether to be crass or class.

As eyeballs shift to Youtube and Netflix, it is likely becoming more difficult for Web Page based media businesses to make a buck. I think we are witnessing the last desperate attempt by many outlets to grab some cash before shutting down the property. Of course the irony is that the rush to "monetize", as they call it now, accelerates the exodus of viewers to video based content.

Food for thought for your own means of subsistence Mike. I wonder if you might benefit from uploading a weekly video to youtube for the purpose of capturing audience for your blog. We (your regular readers) would jump start your video venture by viewing/liking/subscribing to your channel.

I would guess that 2 years ago my internet time was split 80/20 between Web Page based content and video. Today that has flipped and I easily spend 80% of my internet time on Youtube. I turn 47 this year, so I'm not exactly what they call a millennial.

And, by the way, we can't thank you enough for keeping your pages squeaky clean and vetting the comments one by one. Despite my shifting preference for video content, I still feel that TOP is like a balm for my soul.

"Conservatism" as you describe it has not existed in American politics for a long time now. At this particularly extreme moment the emperor has no clothes, so to speak, but for decades the proponents of conservatism have demonstrated that, once they are given control, they have zero interest in what are thought of as conservative principles.

I am trying to be gentle here.

Firefox Reader View is your friend ;)



I find the new Reader Mode in Safari does wonders for avoiding all the crap you are talking about. You can set it to automatically load that way on specific websites.

I don't get it. You blog for a living. You post content, but wouldn't spend so much time doing so if you couldn't monetize it. Now you're complaining about advertisements while reading content that someone else has provided. The question is: what content would there be if nobody made money on it ?
I teach my daughter to assume that pretty much everyone you run into in life is looking to take her money. If someone is offering something, assume they're looking to profit from it. And, just like in real life, I avoid the more money-grubbing places on the internet in favor of those with a reasonable value proposition.

Love it—and so true. The worst, is reading on my iPad, which I have more or less given up for reading on except for Ibooks which have no advertising. I never even watch network TV anymore because of the advertising.

Yep, a big AMEN brother - limited tolerance here too.

The worst ad pile-on I ever experienced was in the early Wild West days of the Internet.
It was a boy's night, and we thought we would visit some XXX sites. No one wanted to provide a credit card number to get thru the paywall, though, so we shut it down, or tried to, but in response, the screen virtually exploded with pop-up ads/sites. It was like a video game trying to close them all out. We finally just shut down the computer, and for good measure, pulled out the plug.

Ah, progress!

Was giving this some thought and my eyes drifted to the bottom of the post. Even though you qualify it, it's still there for a reason.

"Some silent, non-flashing, video-free, uninsistent,
unobtrusive, purely volitional ads:

B&H Photo • Amazon US • Amazon UK
Amazon Germany • Amazon Canada • Adorama"

I'm not judging as I am a parent and like all parents my hypocrisy knows no bounds. I DO second all the adblocker comments and Google email management tools. I literally could not do my job without them.

As far as "how do people communicate?" It's essentially by text messaging for me and my chattiest friends. I/we gave up on Facebook "public" conversations for professional and personal reasons a long time ago. Email has a lot of delay built in that confuses the rhythm of our blather.

I checked and some conversations on my phone have been going on for years now and blissfully remain inside the circle by mutual consent. All good fun though.

Anyway, get well soon. Regards.

I use an ad blocker (currently uBlockOrigin for Safari) and a "hosts" file to block or redirect ads. I get it that sites need money to keep operating but the ads have turned into vectors for malware injection. As long as the threat exists for malware delivered via ads I will continue to block them.

I have turned off video autoplay in Safari (Debug —> Media Flags —> Video Needs User action). This requires turning on the Debug menu in Safari.

These actions have made browsing the web better, faster, and safer.

I'm finding fewer and fewer websites to visit these days due to tasteless, obnoxious and intrusive advertising, autoplay videos, self promotions, etc. Ad Block doesn't always help with these and now some sites block me because I use Ad Block.

There are a few TV programs I like to watch so I record them with the DVR so I can skip the 4 minutes of advertising for every 9 minutes of programming. Watching TV news requires a strong stomach considering the prescription medication and personal injury attorney commercials that run non-stop. Mainly, I'm content to be ignorant and clueless these days.

I'm not against all advertising but the problem with the concept of letting the market rule lies with a failure to instill any sense of responsibility or decorum in the marketers.

- Benjamin Marks' advice: good
- adblockers:good

But also noodle around with these...

- DuckDuckGo Privacy Essentials: https://duckduckgo.com/app
- report for http://theonlinephotographer.typepad.com/

4 Tracker Networks Blocked
  Zemanta: zemanta.com
  StatCounter: statcounter.com
  Twitter: platform.twitter.com

Enhanced from D to C

    Unencrypted Connection
    4 Tracker Networks Blocked
    2 Major Tracker Networks Blocked
    Unknown Privacy Practices

    Privacy Grade D
    Enhanced Grade C

Other (you may need Mac-specific equivalents)
  - readers: improve the readability of web articles
    - Reader: http://barisderin.com/?p=372
    - Tranquility Reader: https://tranquility.ushnisha.com/

  - Javascript Toggle On and Off: https://add0n.com/javascript-toggler.html

More (bookmarklet "addons")
    - Kill sticky headers: https://alisdair.mcdiarmid.org/kill-sticky-headers/
      - "So I made this bookmarklet. Drag the link to your bookmarks bar. The bookmarklet just finds all fixed-position elements on the page, and removes them. This might remove the navigation, but if you need it back, just hit refresh. That's why I created a bookmarklet and not a custom user-stylesheet or browser plugin: this is the simplest way to solve the problem."

    - Disable CSS Bookmarklet: http://dorward.me.uk/software/disablecss/

Howdy! This article by respected blogger Kirk McElhearn also came out today and might help:
Hope you're feeling better soon!

"I hold the exact opposite view, which is that commercialism and unregulated capitalism inevitably ruins everything."

The question is "how much regulation"? Just ask Venezula

Use a text only browser like Lynx.

Switch off javascript - that will kill most abuses stone dead and let you see which site authors care about accessibility.

Or only read free sites with no advertising. There are still plenty of people producing content for nothing but the love of it (like mine, but I wouldn't recommend visiting, it's not very good).

Ad blockers can help but there seems to be an arms war.

Many "websites" (most?) have no idea what ad you are seeing. They simply rent space on the side of their barn to an advertising aggregator - who may sub-rent it to another group... So there's no point complaining about ads to the people providing the content, but they suffer (sometimes rightly).

Still, you aren't going to pay for any of that "content", are you? It's all free; someone else is paying...

I don't have an acceptable answer ("Pay?!!") either but if we have to put up with ads there should be some $$ incentive to follow style(?) standards. Might be nice to have some standards, too.

We only have disincentives now (adblocker, avoid...) so suggestions would be welcome. I got nuthin.

You mention Click Bait links. You described pretty much already being on a Click Bait site. These sites I just don't read. I read sites like yours where the ads are well-behaved and fenced into designated spots. You can't avoid advertisements. And the ads you do see work, otherwise you wouldn't see them.

My feeling about capitalism parallels Churchill's on democracy -- it's the worst of all systems except for all the others. Not that I'm a right-winger or anything.

There's a pretty famous professor named Sherry Turkle who has written extensively on the relationship between people and the internet. After you sift through all of her arguments, the bottom line is that the relationship can resemble addiction and is quite often destructive. As a New Year's resolution, I quit the internet site that I spent the most time on, which featured discussion and argument among the patrons. I had taken Turkle's arguments with a small grain of salt (I think she's pretty well up on the genius scale) but I found that I did seem to experience withdrawal symptoms similar to that of quitting tobacco. In the first days, the urge to go back and see what my "friends" were up to was almost overpowering, but that's now faded and I have a couple of extra useful hours a day. And the idea that they were "friends" was really illusionary. If you figure out what really constitutes a friend, your internet connections usually turn out to be fairly pale representations of true friendship.

Simple solution to all the ads that interfere with your reading is to close the page immediately.

No ad revenue no bullshit ads.

I use gmail's built-in filters to effectively screen out ~99.9% of such solicitations. Now and then I check my "social", "promotion" or junk folders and they are a sight to behold.

The "perfectly efficient marketplace" exists only in textbooks. Commercial enterprises will always become as crass as they deem necessary to get another buck off of you. There are people who would gladly cover the east face of the Rockies with cheesy billboards.

That's why commerce is only one aspect of our wider culture. We are not all here to serve commerce. We invented commerce to serve our needs. We keep forgetting this.

Many people (myself included) have sensory issues that make the ads entirely unacceptable. I simply cannot use the internet at all with ads - the choice is "use an ad blocker" or "be forced offline". The ONLY form of acceptable ad to me would be something that could appear in a magazine (I don't watch TV for the same reason, and I listen to public radio) - no sound and no motion - and no more of them, no more intrusive than in a magazine - no "scroll with the text" ads, either.
I'm hoping (it would take a VERY different government) to see ad-blockers recognized as accessibility software for people with sensory disorders. No website could block screen readers for the blind without a HUGE outcry...

Of course they're ruining the internet. But there is still a lot there.

I don't do any social media.

I'm very scrupulous about deleting email several times a day to keep my mail application free of garbage. Though some advise against it I "unsubscribe" whenever given the option. I find that generally works, much more often than not.

I pay to read the NYTimes and my local paper and find those generally an acceptable experience. I like Apple News as a new aggregator. Safari's Reader View is a great tool for cutting out all the annoying things you describe on many Web sites. It leaves you with just the text and graphics that are part of the article.

I regularly delete my Web history and data, forcing the advertisers' snooping software to start over. Most of all I never click on an ad. If I, say, see a B&H ad for something that intrigues me I go to their site and look it up instead.

I think you just have to play defense as well as offense. Take the time to fight back.

I've long ago turned off my speakers and installed Adblock Plus https://adblockplus.org/ for use with Firefox. It isn't perfect but it does cut down lots & lots of crap.

I recommend uBlock Origin — an open source ad blocker that is confusingly completely unrelated to the website ublock.org.

You can install it in Firefox here and Chrome here. Unfortunately the Safari version needs to be installed manually which I do not recommend unless you know what you are doing.

It is a shock using a web browser without an ad blocker installed, much like watching television.

The latest release of macOS High Sierra, 10.13.3, appears to be more stable and Safari in High Sierra now blocks cross-site tracking and allows you to set reader mode and video preferences for *each* website. It won't fix everything but I've already noticed a huge difference in the web surfing experience.


As Dave Miller notes above, turn off Javascript. I have an older Mac laptop and many sites are completely useless and lock up the Safari browser unless I do this in the Security control panel. Without Javascript, almost all the movies and flashing and intrusive ads disappear. Most usefully, many of the subscription sites like newspapers use Javascript to block access to non-subscribers. With Javascript turned off, you're in. The biggest drawback is that many useful and informative graphics and photos disappear too. It's a trade off. The only videos I can consistently watch are on You Tube, and for those I have to turn the Javascript back on. After a while you learn which sites work with or without Javascript. It's a jungle out there.

My friends are baffled when I tell them I left my cell phone in my truck on purpose when I went boating...I can call for help or the Coast Guard on my VHF radio. Why bring another annoying device onto the water to invade my peace and enjoyment. That's an extension of your internet annoyance. Endless ads, useless marketing of things I will actively buy from anyone else because they DON'T annoy me, it's a jungle out there. I am confident when I die, all my remotes will have the symbols worn off the mute buttons... I feel your pain Mike.

Yep. Not just me then.
I am finding it harder and harder find what I am looking for, even things that I know exist, I struggle to find as the uber clever pseudo brain in my search engine thinks it knows what I really want.
Same with the ad thing. I refuse to upgrade slowing devices just to keep up with the increased "drag" of what is on some sites.

No longer on social media, dont follow many sites, but still end up wasting too much time on line.

Reminds me of this quote by Maria Popova of Brain Pickings: "The internet — its beauty is that it’s a self-perfecting organism, right? But as long as it’s an ad-supported medium, the motive will be to perfect commercial interest, to perfect the art of the listicle, the endless slideshow, the infinitely paginated article, and not to perfect the human spirit of the reader or the writer."

I use Firefox, which has a “reader view” button. It removes everything on the page except the actual content.

The problem we face with the Internet is the techies who started it never considered the consequences of their actions. I've been involved in it for many years - make that decades - I registered my name as a domain 26 years ago before you probably knew there was an Internet - and used the first ISP - Software Tool & Die out of Boston to create one of the first 25,000 web sites. Today I head the professional society that teaches people how to design, install and operate the fiber optic networks that make the Internet possible.
Those guys in the 70s and 80s who built the Internet Protocols never considered that any one would abuse the network. As a result, you can be anonymous, you can spoof your identity, you are pretty much untraceable if you are reasonably competent. All that changed with a Digital Equipment sales rep started promoting their computers on the Internet in the mid-80s. Thus SPAM has nw become the dominant email. ISPs are loathe to stop it since they get some revenue from it and it's hard to trace. A guy in Michigan who got caught a few years ago was sending out 40million email SPAMs a day. Probably half of you have zombie computers that are sending out SPAM without you even knowing it, a result of the proliferation of malware. More than half of all email is suspect.
Only the foolish - even MAC users - operate without continual scanning and protection.
Every time someone comes up with a fix, there are 10 ways around it.
Beyond the malware, we have all the commercial BS. Cookies tell websites where you have been and target ads to you. Some companies like Verizon have used super cookies on their cellular devices that you probably cannot clear from your device.
A friend in our business recently sent me a link to Goodwin's Law - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Godwin%27s_law - that eventually in an online conversation someone will liken you to the Nazis. It's just a fact of life that online discussions bring out the worst in good people and trolls by the dozens. I quit the MIT Technology Review discussion site when I realized that trolls from the coal and nuclear industry were using it to promote their agendas.
Bill Gates and I proposed the same solution to SPAM more than a decade ago - charge per email - just a penny or so - to prevent massive spamming.
Now for some advice - if you are a Mac user like Mike and me, I suggest you have at least two browsers set up. Use Safari for general use and Firefox - which may have the best security - for all your important stuff like ordering and banking. On Safari, when you open a browser window, go to FILE and use "NEW PRIVATE WINDOW" which has better security. In preferences block popups. When searching try DUCKDUCKGO which does not track you and is better at avoiding bad sites. Go to PREFERENCES/SECURITY and check Warn when visiting fraudulent website, and Block Pop-Up Windows. Whenever possible click on the 4 little parallel lines left of the URL for the READER MODE. And use an ad blocker if you can find a good one.
On Firefox, just use it for the trusted sites like your banks or other online accounts - never for any other sites.
For email, never click on UNSUBSCRIBE on an unknown email. Mark it as junk and delete it. Clicking on unsubscribe will verify your email. On the MAC scan all emails with SOPHOS anti virus. Set up JUNK filters. In preferences use RULES to automatically delete persistent spammers.
Periodically - at least weekly - clear your history and caches in Safari.
For all you Windows users - good lick - everybody on the Internet hates Bill Gates!

Oh yeah, Mike. I understand your problem with ads. I quit watching network TV years ago because of the ads and now only watch OTT - over the top - or Internet TV. And the ISPs hate me - AT&T blocked me from doing speed tests about 5 years ago when I blew the whistle on their way of fixing the tests.

Sorry for the rant!

And another interesting topic - last week a Trump National Security Council document was leaked proposing they nationalize the cellular system. In the FOA January Newsletter, we covered this topic and included a graph of what happened in Egypt during the Arab Spring in 2011. The government was able to shut down the entire Internet in Egypt in a couple of hours. You can see the graph for yourself at http://www.thefoa.org/images/Egypt-Shutdown.jpg. Scary!

TOP would be a great site to read except for all these distracting comments.

The internet has not been ruined. But the world wide web is dead. There is a fine distinction between the two.

Have been using the internet since 1995, starting with 9600 baud modems. Have been witness to the evolution of the web, with the turf wars between Netscape and IE in the late '90s getting downright nasty for anybody's liking.

The intention of the web, free exchange of information, has long been buried in avalanches of digital "marketing". Any system that is commercialized will meet the same fate. It is inevitable. What you say about unregulated capitalism is true. The thing is, in all these left-right false dichotomies, people forget that capitalism is not exactly free market. The latter is what is desired. In its extreme form, as of today, capitalism more and more resembles the erstwhile Soviet Union, with the corporate board of directors taking the place of the Communist Politburo.

In an ideal free market, Mr. Johnstone's blog and Mr. Zuckerburg's website would be treated the same. But see FCC's decision on net neutrality. "Oh, what a tangled web we weave".

(Ramblings from the other side of the world. No, I am not a software "engineer', whatever that means, but I admit to being an electronics hardware engineer).

I couldn't agree more. Another thing that's become my pet peeve, and it's both e-mail based and on web sites, is the "we'd like your feedback" intrusion. My doctor wants my feedback, my car mechanic wants my feedback, my veterinarian wants my feedback. Before I've actually been able to view a single page on a website, they want my feedback.

I have no medical training, human or animal, I don't know cars, except how to drive them, and if I haven't seen page 1 of your web site, I don't know it either. If my body keeps working, my dogs stay healthy, and my car keeps running, then you're probably doing a reasonable job. But I can't conclude any of those things 48 hours after I've seen you.

Is everyone really that insecure about what kind of job they're doing? It almost makes me long for the days when it was clear that most businesses didn't give a rip what you thought.

Related to your ruining the Internet column Irarely read an article online in its native format. Instead I use an app such as Pocket or Read it Later to save the content for offline reading. No ads then

I tend to stick to relatively tame websites but know of the websites you talk about. Occasionally I'll flick through one onmy phone to distract me whilst waiting for something more important.

Being US based, you've probably never had the pleasure of non-commercial TV. I've come across stuff nowadays that the BBC would run in a 50 minute slot ( the missing 10 minutes to allow for sales to commercial networks overseas) being dragged out to 90 minutes.

I remember the good ol' days when ad blockers worked and one could browse the internet and their e-mails without distraction, and also faster, because ads take up a lot more bandwidth that the simple text you want to read. But now many sites won't let you access them unless you turn off your browser's ad blocker.

I'm with you, Mike; I'm not against advertising per se, and I understand the internet is not free, but the assault on content that ads are undertaking these days is infuriating. There are sites I don't visit any more because I know I won't be able to easily read the article, and my browser will slow down 90% due to the extraneous crap it's being forced to load.

Thank you for keeping TOP so clean. You know, my ad blocker is turned on for TOP and yet all your ads are still displayed. That's because they don't look like ads to the ad blocking software! That's a testament to your good taste in ad management, dear Mike.

stick to cameras. this is so disappointing. your views on capitalism are not remotely appreciated by me.

I don't object to ads that sit quietly in the corner and don't shout at me, especially if they make sites like TOP possible.

Ads that block the screen, interrupt my reading or viewing, or include distracting animations, earn an instant lifetime blacklisting for the brand that inspired them.

Eventually, companies will learn. It IS counter productive to annoy people. Much more sensible for them to be easy to find, but only IF we are looking for what they are selling. In which case, they need to provide useful and informative content to allow us to learn something useful.

The irony about the internet is that information is easy to find. We don't need advertising any more. We need information, not platitudinous memes.

Mike, I also hate how the Internet has unfolded over the years. My one and only help idea...I leave my speakers/sound turned off when browsing.

I think that it is interesting that adds keep popping up on things that I have already bought or lost interest in.

Hang in there things may get better some day....

Leaving the site when one of these offensive ads crops up is more than a contribution to your sanity. The advertisers and website owners gather stats on how long you stay, what you click on, etc. Leaving is the most powerful way you have to tell them you aren't happy, and that their tactics aren't working.

"I hold the exact opposite view, which is that commercialism and unregulated capitalism inevitably ruins everything."

Oh yes, we should regulate, and then regulate the regulations, and then amend the regulations since they invariably won't work as intended. Rinse and repeat.

Another idea--no ads. No links. No affiliate advertising. No product placements. No subliminal advertising. No tit-for-tat of any kind. All these are forms of capitalism after all, ruining the internet. Violating any of these rules would be heavily fined. The internet would cease to exist within 6 months.

I'll vote with my mouse--avoid the click-bait and annoying sites, and otherwise accept advertising as a way of life, like traffic jams, robocalls and junk mail (remember that)?

[Here's what kind of argument that is:


(I love that site.)


Support TOP at Patreon. That helps Mike resist the flashy ad lucre.

I find the Open Mike columns valuable because they provide a context for the photography columns, especially because Mike is a very different person from me and because he's honest about himself. Also, Open Mike generates all kinds of perceptive comments.

Actually, the worst thing is a variant on one you mention: a page loads and you see an interesting link. You click on it but the original page goes on loading and stuff keeps getting rearranged. Eventually the clicked link opens and.... It's the wrong effing page! So you go back, patiently wait for the original page to re-load all its content, search for the original link but it's gone! It was a link generated at random and there is a different one each time the page is loaded...

Yes, it's a nightmare all right.

Hi Mike,
To avoid most of the problems you have experienced with internet browsing, I've now switched to Firefox Focus as my browser.

Firefox Focus is designed to block online trackers, including third-party advertising, with the end goal of both improving browsing speed and protecting users' privacy.

Probably late to the party, thank you for voicing most of what has become of the web. I'v been using it since 1994 or so and what a change! Well everything changes not necessarily for the good.

What also bothers me greatly is commercial radio. I find most stations are close to if not greater than 50% commercials. That is the reason I listen to NPR almost all the time. Remember when FM radio was special? Now its not very special at all being much like AM with wider freq response.

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