March 7, 2011


I remember when Dad brought home our first VCR. It was made by General Electric and now that I think about it, had a suspiciously 21st-century Apple-like design to it in a 1980s way. It was made of metal with a black base and went out of it’s way to be user friendly. The VCR tape mechanism popped out the top of the device. It was cool. The first show that we ever taped with the VCR was the Ann Jillian comedy “Jennifer Slept Here”. We recorded it from the over-the-air antenna and watched it 20 minutes after the tape stopped recording.

The very first thing that I discovered about this new fangled device that my father brought into the colonial-themed family room of our home was that, when you used the remote control that was tethered to VCR with a very long cord, you could speed through the commercials that were sandwiched between the reason that we taped the show in the first place. This nifty device could skip each and every commercial if we wanted to put into the effort of getting beyond a blinking 12:00 on the display. This was very cool and exciting.

I have despised ads and commercials ever since.

Fast forward to the present. There are countless ad-supported social networking platforms out there: Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, any and all things Google, the list goes on and on. In many instances, a developer will offer two versions of a mobile app (iPhone, iPad, Android, etc) to access these platforms: a free version that blinks a (hopefully) cute little ad somewhere on the screen and attempts to garner some cash for said social platform, and a paid version of the app, where one pays for the app itself and puts money directly into the pocket of the developer that developed the app, even if it’s the owner of the social networking platform itself.

At the end of last week Twitter released an update to the iPhone version of their official app. While the update took away several goodies, such as the ability to pick your own photo hosting service, it also introduced a new feature called the “Quick Bar”. This bar floats on top of your Twitter feed timeline and displays what’s trending at the moment, usually based on hashtags. The first thing that was displayed in my Quick Bar was “#blackpeoplemovies”.

I don’t care about #blackpeoplemovies.

Twitter states that the Quick Bar (which has since been dubbed the ‘dickbar’ after the COO of Twitter, Dick Somethingorother) is to alert users of what’s hot at the moment. One would hope it would say something like “#peaceinlibya” or “#girlscoutcookiesbeingdelivered” but instead it says something like the aforementioned #blackpeoplemovies or “#OMGbieberissuchagod.”

Now, this new Quick Bar is currently confined to the iPhone version of their app but there are hints that it is going to be included in other versions. Of course, one doesn’t have to use the official Twitter app, in fact, since this release I have opted to go back to Echofon. Echofon is an ad-supported app as well, however, the fine folks that own Echofon have also released a paid version of their app which works quite nicely AND it doesn’t include any ads flashing in our face. This is brilliant and quite frankly, something that Twitter could probably take a cue from. Judging by the rather large backlash against the “dickbar”, Twitter would probably hear a collective sigh of relief if they gave the users of their app the opportunity to either a. hide the dickbar or b. pay for the app and blast the dickbar to oblivion forever and ever amen.

Now I know that quite a few folks have got it in their head that the best way for the Internet to grow and flourish is through ad supported content, but like I did in 1983, someone, somewhere, is always going to find a way to avoid those ads and quite frankly I will do everything I can in my contribution to this experience to make sure that I share as many ways to avoid ads as possible with all my brethren users.

Now, back to Ann Jillian. Would today’s über politically correct society enjoy a show where a teenaged boy found the ghost of a beautiful woman living in his closet? I’m sure there would be some sort of backlash and it would undoubtedly be shoved in my face courtesy of Twitter’s dickbar.