The perils of juxtaposition: Aurora
[ cross-posted from SmartMobs – this post is not about the tragic Aurora shooting, but about internet advertising mechanics and unthinking juxtapositions ]
Our hearts go out to all the bereaved.
If you know the Sembl project, you know we’re always on about juxtaposition as a means of generating a sort of stereoscopic depth of understanding from two similar — or opposite — ideas, images etc.
And yes indeed, the juxtaposition of ideas and the creative leaps that juxtaposition generates are at the heart of the Sembl game approach that Cath and I are prototyping.
But look, you need to have some sense of context.
And neither current algorithms nor remote humans seem to be terribly good at this.
The Celeb Boutique tweet above was posted when the word Aurora started trending after the recent awful cinema shooting, and was up for an hour before someone realized how inappropriate it was and took it down. In subsequent tweets, the boutique apologized and noted “our PR is NOT US based and had not checked the reason for the trend…”
I think that’s extremely unfortunate, but somewhat understandable: human error, outsourced.
The humans in question should have been as savvy as Paul Coelho, who counseled (just a day earlier, if I’m getting my dates right) as follows:
Then there was the Christian Science Monitor‘s article, Colorado shooting: A rare glimpse into Mitt Romney’s Mormon faith, which showed up on my friend Critt Jarvis‘ monitor with this ad:
Again, that’s unfortunate — but the CSM’s ads are presumably chosen by algorithm, and I wouldn’t know where to send an algorithm to repent if I met one and it was sincerely apologetic…
The CSM website does offer us humans an opportunity to object to ads we find tasteless and inappropriate, however:
The Monitor is committed to showing only those ads that meet our standards for appropriate content. These particular ads are sold by internet advertising partners who share the revenue with The Christian Science Monitor. We have implemented filters with them that are designed to prevent unacceptable advertising from showing on the site. If you feel an inappropriate ad is being displayed, please contact us immediately using the form below. Ads that violate our acceptance standards will be removed from the site and our filters will be adjusted to help prevent a recurrence.
So humans can backtop the algorithms when they play foul… that’s good.
But all this just reinforces my appreciation for Cath Styles‘ tweet last week, after she met with Mel from Serena (neat video, btw!):
There’s still no machine substitute for human wit and wisdom.
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