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A Sting in the Tale

I just caught a very cool example of what some people are doing with javascript these days. A little molecule-builder, it’s impressive and fun at the same time:

check out Molecools

Now that was fun, and note the example molecule, Ethanol. As an aside, the simulator is pretty crude so there’s no valency-counting or any of the refined stuff that lends molecules their particular shape and characteristics but, like all javascript, the code is out there in the public domain to peruse – just give the author an acknowledgement if you use anything substantive.

Anyway, as I noted, the molecule demonstrated was Ethanol, which is a nice, definite unambiguous noun and has not formed any part of my browsing history for a while or so. So when I returned to my Gmail account and saw the little top-advert for some Ethanol related products, there was no doubting the provenance.

Now Google’s permeation of my browser and their improved ad-targeting has been an expanding wedge for a while and I always assumed they were making note of my google-searchs and using them in my gmail-ad, although I’d never been able to unequivocally pin them down here – I have a lot of emails for them to farm data from. But here was something a bit different, unequivocal evidence of them using a link-click (from reddit as it happens), unrelated to any google-search, as the basis for a targeted ad. I managed to find this little explanation of what appears to be a new phenomenon:


I’m assuming reddit is part of some affiliation scheme. Now I don’t know about you but this has crossed my Rubicon as far as Google intrusiveness is concerned, and their opt-out scheme, as explained in the article is a bad one. I think I’m going to hunt out one of those Firefox gmail ad-blockers; to be honest the sheer banality of most of the Forbes promos or jokey comments for the day was tending me that way. Anyway, another reason to keep an eye on the big G, our self-appointed (and generally benign?) dictator.

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