A world without advertising?

October 22, 2013

When Peter Day asks me to “Imagine a world without shops or factories” I pay attention. Because Peter Day is someone whose opinions I respect.

However, I think this world is a bourgeois fantasy. But it could have one advantage.

Advertising is a pain. Only yesterday I got some rubbish on twitter trying to sell me a car on the back of Homeland. Any intelligent human being who had done any research would know that I just wrote a negative blog post about Homeland. Therefore I am unlikely to respond well to this kind of mindless targeted ad, probably served up by a machine. Humans aren’t much better. Every day I get real people in my inbox trying to sell me things just because they have happened to come across my email address. My favourite recently began “Nick, I’ve always been an admirer of your work…” (Oh no you haven’t!). And the TV companies seem to have all sequenced their ad breaks together so that if you switch over you are just subjected to another ad break.

In this digital future my data driven house will know when I’ve run out of loo roll, order some, and have it delivered without me having to do anything. No need for TV ads for Andrex. My 3D printer will print up that hammer and nails I need to put up a picture. No need for advertising for B&Q. Recommendations for good things to watch and read will be served up by machines or even better through a social network of people I know and trust. If I need a new electric car, I’ll surf the internet and ask my brother in law (actually this is what happens now, so I’m already living in the future). No more car ads!

But… how is the loo roll being made? What happens when all the forests needed to make loo roll are cut down? When the electricity needed to make it runs out? Why would anyone ever want to leave the house? How is anyone earning a living?

This is how we will know that the collapse of civilisation is imminent. Fewer and fewer car ads on the telly…


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