This morning’s attempt to read some news articles and blog posts with my morning coffee has been exceedingly frustrating. I’ve given up and will type a rant instead.
I’m still pining for the days of Google Reader, the news aggregator that did what I wanted and displayed nonintrusive ads. I haven’t been happy with alternatives that have either have a more “magazine like” presentation, continue to add more features, or display duplicate banner ads larger than the material I want to read. I really need little more than a list of headlines that I can look at with as little distraction as possible.
As I try to read news on a newsreader site some posts display only headlines or a portion so that you have to go to the site. I understand the need to get visitors to your site as a means of revenue for commercial journalism, but much of what I read is put out by non-profit ministries without any external ads.
Ads, by the way, have gotten to be way out of control. I understand the need for revenue, but it seems like there should be some sense of proportionality to the context. If I watch a video on YouTube, a video commercial at the beginning seems appropriate. Listening to a brief interruption on Spotify also seems to fit the context. Reading requires some measure of concentration, and to go to a site and begin reading an article only to have my attention hijacked by a video car commercial playing in the margin tells me the site owners don’t value their content enough to let me read it. By the time I find the video to pause it I usually conclude that the point of the site isn’t to give me information, but to present advertisements.
More and more sites I go to cover the screen with a weasel worded email signup forms. These are particularly frustrating when they continue to show up on every visit – even if you have signed up. And once I’m past the sign up form there are the ubiquitous social media sharing plugins that cover portions of text so that reading a page requires strategical scrolling to get around Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest logos.
Based on the current state of the internet information doesn’t want be free, it wants to be caged behind sign in forms, ill thought out design, and obnoxious advertisements. And judging from the amount of “fake news”, assertions without arguments, and opinions presented as facts, it doesn’t want to be information.