A few weeks ago I was reading the usual list of technology sites and came across an interesting debate on how Microsoft is planning to embed ad blocking technology into its browser, while Google and Mozilla will not. The items that were discussed got be thinking about what I use and how that relates to the Web as a whole.
I have been using ad-blocking software since it because available. According my my perception it sped up my browsing experience, and improved my security. (Not to mention I didn’t have to see a million ads asking me to punch a monkey or lower my mortgage interest rate). To me this was great! It was like being on a freeway or limited access highway: I didn’t have to worry about interruptions, or other people getting in the way of my car causing an accident. However, I didn’t think about one thing: LOTS of the websites that I rely on as a developer for technical resources, tools or documentation rely on ad revenue for operations. This is especially true for open source software.
Now I use many tools and reference sites while I am working and I started thinking: what if they went away? Would I be willing to “subscribe” to the site? What is the value of the information? Those questions, as well as the release of the new-er versions of Chrome led me to the decision to switch to Chrome as my primary instrument for browsing the web.
This took a few days to get used to, as one can imagine. Some of the sites that I go to regularly suddenly got a lot more “noisy”. I had to deal with a few pop-under ads (which I hate). I have had to learn to deal with the “creepy” factor of getting custom ads delivered to me across multiple sites based on my browsing history or email contents. Overall, however, my “web” experience has not been significantly hindered.
Now I do still use AdBlocking software when I am doing research into some of the more “grey” areas of the internet (security research, etc), but overall for 90% of my web usage now, I am free and open to be marketed to. In many ways it has been beneficial, as I am getting informed of products or services that I may actually be interested in.