<body> Public Ad Campaign: A Mess on the Sidewalk
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Thursday, March 7, 2019

A Mess on the Sidewalk

When traditional outdoor ads were replaced with screens I bemoaned the upgrade as a more insidious distraction that was simply harder to ignore as our brains trained our eyes on thier movement. When LinkNYC went in on the streets of NYC, I thought that it would be another opportunity for more distraction but that at least it would come with a touchpad and free phone calls. What has become clear in the first years of LINK's deployment is that is has no interest in traditional advertising whatsoever. Made up of #artonlink and "fun facts" about NYC, the majority of content displayed is a benign sedative obscuring the less obvious data collection practices being employed. No longer is the material of persuasion a physical image designed to cause some affect, but rather the collection of your data which can be used to more subtlety influence who you are and what you want. We are entering a fantastically dystopian era where the tools of persuasion go "underground" and we are all left wondering why we want a Coke so bad even though we haven't seen the curly font on a bright red background for years. 

WHEN SIDEWALK LABS, a “smart cities” start-up launched by Google, made its Toronto debut in October 2017, a torrent of global adulation followed. Over the next few weeks, Sidewalk choreographed events featuring luminaries such as former Google chairman Eric Schmidt and Sidewalk founder and CEO Dan Doctoroff. There was even a cameo appearance from Canada’s hipster prime minister Justin Trudeau, whose Liberal government is investing heavily to attract innovation-driven companies to Canada. More [HERE]

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