Truth and Advertising
There are Google AdSense ads on The Row Boat. It is above all an experiment, and I think a rather interesting one. Interesting first of all because I don’t have a lot of money these days, and the need is starting to arise to find new sources of income as my studies progress.
For the most part I have clung to the assumption that advertising is intrinsically a bad thing because of the way that it constantly bears down on us in the life of our poor society. But I wonder if that is necessarily the case: it cannot be, for no thing is an evil in itself, and all things made must have been made with some seed in them for good.
These are a few reasons I propose to justify my use of advertising on The Row Boat.
(1) Community. Ads link us to others, particularly others we might not otherwise know. Google ads do this especially well, since their content is based on the content of the site they appear on. Of course it is sponsored community: we are recommending the friends who paid.
(2) Juxtaposition. This is the aesthetic counterpart of (1). The ads, suggested by a computer trying to find a good match, might end up offering an interesting counterpart to the content of this site. I had a writing teacher once who suggested getting out of block by googling the word that is possessing you. Sometimes the associations a computer makes (or another person) can be powerfully refreshing.
(3) Value. In a commercial culture, people often instinctively attribute value to a thing in proportion to that thing’s commercial worth. By adding an element of commerce to the site, perhaps people will take more interest in what is being said, or take it more seriously. Knowing as we do that merely by looking at the ads we are supporting the site that they appear on, the ad introduces a sensation that a visitor is paying for the visit. Paying has a special power in helping people feel invested in the community they pay into: more a part and more proudly a part, since the soundness of their decision to spend depends on the community’s well-being.
(4) Mendicantism. Religious begging has a very ancient tradition, which we are proud to join here. The advertisements are an interesting phenomenon: they commercialize my writing, turning it into labor (following St. Paul’s spirituality of self-support), while at the same time making visitors feel like their visit is in part a charitible contribution to a poor religious writer, which in itself bestows blessings on their homes and ease on their consciences.
Anyhow, I hope that the ads don’t distract much from the substantive conversation going on. May we all flourish.