Going Where No Campaign Has Gone Before

By Doug Thompson

I’m hoping that Tuesday’s election ended without a Democratic runoff for U.S. Senate as I write this on Monday. The Lincoln/Halter campaign ad blitz is past ridiculous.

I’m looking up something Monday on the “Mass Effect Wiki,” the dedicated Wikipedia site for the computer game. My page pops up. Three Blanche Lincoln for U.S. Senate advertisements greet me.

Thanks, Google or Firefox or whomever. I own a computer in Arkansas, or at least visit Arkansasrelated topics. Therefore, I must be stalked to make absolutely sure there’s no chance I can ever forget there’s a primary going on.

I’m double-checking what triggers the attack on a colony on a distant planet in a space opera videogame — the ultimate in irresponsible escapism — and Blanche is looking for my vote.

I can, therefore, say without exaggeration that Blanche Lincoln was looking for votes in outer space.

Saints preserve us if there’s a runoff. Lt. Gov. Bill Halter’s ad popped up while I was checking “Zero Punctuation,” a satirical and rather rude Internet comic.

Hey, I work in a business that depends on ad sales. I’m all for targeted advertising. All I’m saying is that this particular race and these particular candidates passed the saturation point for me a long, long time ago.

There’s a creepiness factor involved here. Like I said, this is the closest to being stalked I’ve ever been.

Then there are the phone calls I get at night.

I had a reader call me and request an editorial demanding that campaign canvassers stop calling people after 9 p.m.

She has a point.

Somewhere, ill-defined, is a point where people are no longer informed or encouraged. They’re just pestered. We passed that point a while ago.

As for my particular Wiki page, I might not have minded the ads so much if they were more imaginative. For instance, if Halter’s ad on ZP had him slaying those little black goblins that are used on that cartoon so much, or if Blanche was shown in Commander Shepard’s spacesuit, saving the universe. Halter as an enemy Collector would have been nice too.

sure. BioWare, makers of ME2, will get a cut of the advertising revenue, I suppose. Perhaps then they can charge me less for downloadable content.

Anyway, it’s all a reminder of how sophisticated marketers have become.

In some ways, this is more scary than what was predicted in George Orwell’s “1984.”

The device in everybody’s room might be on. It might not. There was fear because you never knew if the government was watching.

Now we know they’re watching, to an absolute certainty — and we’re supplying them with detailed information. Through our visits to certain web pages, we tell them our politics, our preferred brands when we shop, what we wish we could afford, our fetishes, our fears and what Hollywood star we lust after.

And we’re glad to do it. Now that’s creepy. There’s a story in Wired maga-

zine (www.wired.com) about how a school district in Pennsylvania issued 2,300 Macbooks to students — and photographed them at home, without their knowledge.

The district claims the laptop cameras were only turned on a few times, when the devices were reported lost or stolen. The class action lawsuit claims that tens of thousands of pictures of students were taken without the subjects’ knowledge, that web chats were monitored and visited Web sites were tracked.

There’s just no such thing as a free lunch, is there?

Mr. Orwell would feel right at home.

Categories: Legacy Archive