One of the most annoying forms of advertising, pop-up ads, were invented by one man. He says he's very sorry.
Ethan Zuckerman is currently the head of the Center for Civic Media at MIT. In a recent essay he said that he didn't know what he was bringing into the world when he wrote the code for the first pop-up ad over twenty years ago. This was for the company Tripod.com who got funded based on an advertising business model.
He explains how the pop-up ad came about: "It was a way to associate an ad with a user's page without putting it directly on the page, which advertisers worried would imply an association between their brand and the page's content." Specifically it was a car maker who had an ad which celebrated anal sex appear on its site.
While Zuckerman says, "I'm sorry. Our intentions were good," he was still writing code for advertising. So how that could be classed as "good" isn't really clear. While an apology is nice, it hasn’t stopped the flurry of pop-ups with the viruses and scams that go with them.
The apology was part of a longer essay about how the web needs to ditch the ad-based business model for its own good. You can read it in full on The Atlantic.
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