Thursday, September 21, 2017

when love breaks down

Onora O'Neill's 2002 Reith Lectures series 'A Question of Trust' are as apt today as they were then.

In the 5th of her lectures, 'Licence to Deceive', the Cambridge Emeritus Professor of Philosophy was principally referring to the state of journalism but, in 2017, we can apply her insight to what has happened to advertising in general and by advertising technology in particular.

'Do we really gain from heavy-handed forms of accountability? Do we really benefit from...demands for transparency? I am unconvinced.

I think we may undermine professional performance and excessive regulation, and that we may condone and even encourage deception in our zeal for transparency.'

The final sentence is perhaps the most disturbing.

How can we discern the trustworthy from untrustworthy? O'Neill argues that we should perhaps focus less on grandiose ideals of transparency and rather more on limiting deception.

This means media agencies stepping up, taking back our lunch money. Reclaiming the control of strategy that -  in a decade of Dunning-Kruger peak stupidity - we've ceded to our Silicone Valley overlords. The smiling assassins.

(As a fun police aside, I would put a stop to agency staff walking around wearing the swag they have received from vendors. Facebook and Google t-shirts etc. Enclothed cognition!)

And O'Neill was some 15 years ahead of my Google/Facebook 'crunchy-on-the-outside-fluffy-on-the-inside' metaphor.

'The new information technologies may be anti-authoritarian , but curiously they are often used in ways that are also anti-democratic. They undermine our capacities to judge others' claims and to place our trust.'

The IAB and others say, 'We need to make measurement sexy. It's a topic we need to embrace and give a lot more love to'.

Good luck with that.

Because it's when trust moves out, that measurement moves in.

And not everything that can counts can be counted.

When love breaks down,
The lies we tell,
They only serve to fool ourselves.

We are where we are, and it's going to be a long road back.

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