Pop-Up Ads Creator Ethan Zuckerman: 'I'm Sorry'

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Ethan Zuckerman, creator of the original pop-up ad, which first appeared on Tripod.com in 1997, has a message for the Internet: "I'm sorry." He also thinks that it's time online sites and services moved on from using advertising as the primary means to make money. "I have come to believe that advertising is the original sin of the web," he writes in an article for The Atlantic, going on to explain that everything from Facebook tracking us across sites to Google knowing just about everything about you has something to do with advertising.

While pervasive ads do enable free services and reassure investors that there is a business plan, Zuckerman argues they're reaching the end of their usefulness. Now that it's become easy to send and receive money online, it's possible people won't mind paying for things now and then. Ad-supported services will still exist, but perhaps you'll be able to pay $5 a year to hide ads on Facebook or skip them on YouTube. People may not like shelling out, Zuckerman says — but if the alternative is constant surveillance, they might be willing to pay just the same.



—Devin Coldewey