---

blog: Don Marti

---

in the future

12 June 2019

What's in the box? What did you order?

I haven't ordered anything in a while. I'll open it.

Just one item. It's shaped like a kettlebell, but smaller. It's covered with tiny buttons like a scientific calculator. Each button has a person's headshot on it. Looks like they're all members of 1980s hair bands.

Can you use it as a kettlebell anyway?

No, it's too small, I can't get my fingers between the handle and the ball part. And it's really light. And none of the buttons move. They're not hooked up to anything.

What is it?

It's a metabolic product of the data-driven economy. Bots browse for stuff to generate ad clicks. As a side effect, they visit product pages and pretend to show interest. Marketing algorithms discern product preferences from this. Product design algorithms put out contracts on gig sites, to hire designers to draw up plans for all the parts. And contract manufacturing algorithms have the products made and drop-shipped. Some bots must have gotten stuck in a loop of digging on kettlebells, calculators, and vintage MTV.

That's all fine, but why did you pay for it?

Probably one of my devices got compromised and told another device to order it. At least if my stuff is under the control of botnet that's making money by ordering stupid shit for me online, they'll keep my devices safe from the botnets that order Fentanyl from overseas and hire kids to steal it. Or worse.

Are you going to send that thing back?

I don't think so, now. It's oddly reassuring. As long as I keep getting this kind of stuff I'll know there's a botnet looking out for me.

Wealthy people and corporations have so much money they don't know what to do with it

I left the ad industry because our use of data tracking terrified me

The problem with Amazon and Open Source isn’t Amazon

YouTube pushes children's videos to pedophiles through content recommendation engine

There Is Too Much Stuff

In a Constantly Changing San Francisco, Change is Constant