It's an Ad, Ad, Ad, Ad World
The Orwellian future of a Big Brother watching your every move comes not from the designs of government control, but from the marketing department of big corporations.
The future portrayed in Blade Runner, Snow Crash, and numerous other sci-fi works shows an overwhelming influence and influx of advertising. Blade Runner reminds us of this with the gigantic displays of advertisement and the female voice that can be heard everywhere hawking its sponsors' wares. Snow Crash has its animercials.
We can see the primitive forerunners of such ubiquitous advertising with the annoying perseverance of the marketing department of AOL (AOHell). They not only bombard your mailbox, magazines, and mind with their free offers of online time, but once you do sign up with them, they constantly send advertising your way -- when you sign on (eventually), when you go to certain areas, and when you check your e-mail. (Personally, I just reformat the disks they send me or use them as coasters and would never sign up with them.)
AOL is not the only company guilty of this, of course. CyberPromotions is notorious as the most prolific spammer of the Internet. We also get banner ads from every company. And every company's website is one huge advertisement. But this is only the cyberspace extension of what has been happening long before in television, radio, and print media.
However, the cyberspace version is not merely an extension. For the first time, companies can track their (potential) customers. When you click on a banner ad, the website can store information regarding your preferences. When you receive an online cookie, the website is again storing your preferences for future use. When you do an online transaction, give out your e-mail address, or visit a website, you are logged and the information is then stored in a database somewhere. Websites can track the last place you visited and where you go next. Also, ever notice that whenever you use a search engine, the ads you see seem to be tied-in to your search criteria? Well, that's because they are. This is target marketing at its finest. Go ahead, do a search and note the ads that appear.