Most Web users continuously encounter the phrase “learn more” on Google or other websites. It’s intended to entice readers to click for more information about a topic. For example, “Gmail lets you archive all your conversations so you can search for them at a later date…’learn more.’”
A recent Google search for “learn more” reveals the phrase appears 584 MILLION times. (Search = “learn more” + company name). Prominent websites with high use of “learn more” include:
- USPS = 11 million (USPS feels there’s very little reason to learn more; each webpage is clear by itself.)
- Comcast = 16 million (Comcast really doesn’t want anyone to learn more, although they use the phrase moderately)
- Netflix = 20 million (Netflix is curious since the $7.95 per month is quite clear; the company must have written a lot about network neutraity.)
- Microsoft = 78 million (Computer and tech firms strongly believe in using “learn more” as much as possible. With Microsoft’s current layoff announcement, the company will probably outsource out to maintain the learn more pages; Nokia’s mobile product managers also insisted on using the term frequently to better explain its line-up of smartphones.)
- Hewlett–Packard = 119 million (HP’s computers, printers, other hardware and supplies–especially the price of ink replacements–require extensive explanatory material; thus, the enormous use of “learn more” on company webpages.)
- State of California (all ca.gov websites) = 306 million (State governments, especially those with huge deficits, always require more extensive information to explain why things are the way they are; so it’s understandable why the State of California has copied tech companies in the use of “learn more.”)
- Google = 437 million (Google feels that its customers should always want to “learn more.” With its large product line, Google frequently uses “learn more” several times on its webpages; the company is also testing the click-through rate of the phrase.) Even I am part of the trend with Google’s listing: Images for brian prows learn more
- Facebook = 695 million (And, finally, the 1.X billion member social network Facebook. Its privacy policies, as everyone knows, are extremely complex; even game companies like Zynga have joined Facebook writers in the largest use of “learn more” found on the Web. The phrase also helps the 60% international audience better understand how to share the fun on FB.)
Learn More Leads to Mental Damage
To “learn more” opens up the “Internet of Things,” something you don’t want to unleash. Like Pandora’s box, clicking “learn more” will open a gigantic Cloud at a data center. From the Cloud will come torrents of things you don’t want to read or know or learn or memorize.
This causes an illness called “pervasive Cloud overkill” (PCO). PCO happens to numerous Web surfers who are analytical by nature and want to find answers to all questions before using a mobile app, Google product or, for that matter, a new fridge. According to studies by the Don’t Learn More Health Society (DLMHS), “Learn more” takes the mind on a one way no-return mind trip resulting in early PCO, followed by dementia and other nefarious diseases.
So whatever you do, never click on “learn more.” It’s o.k. to click “next page” or “continued” or even “read more.” These phrases tell the brain that there’s an end to information or content. “Learn more,” rather, implies a continuous, invasive entry of words, pictures and videos which attack neurons in the neocortex. Once reaching this stage, the “learn more” opt-in folks find themselves getting dizzy, then faint, before PCO starts neuronal damage.
This message is brought to you by the “Don’t Learn More” health society, a group dedicated to the preservation of the human brain’s ability to consume limited information on the Internet. To receive further information, please email [email protected]
Hot off the press. U.S. consumers, during our economic doldrums, are buying technology gadgets rather than washers, apparel and furniture that last a few years. Apparently the lure of a smartphone or blu-ray DVD player is more appealing than the five-year old toaster that…well, makes toast.
One 28 year-old guy was quoted: “Who cares about a toaster?. If it still works, let it be.” Somehow I can’t imagine techies saying the same thing about their $3,000 LCD TV hanging on the wall. If you pay that kind of money for an electronic gizmo, you expect more than “it works.”
Is it that the toaster doesn’t play a song by Sting while it’s burning the bread? Or that your coffee table has no pizazz?. It just sits there staring at you?
If that’s the reason for the 2% decline this year in consumer purchases of staples, toaster and coffee table manufacturers need to hustle. How about inserting a blue-ray DVD player with HD screen into a coffee table? Think of the advantages for couch potatoes. Rather than having to get up and fix their audio systems ten feet away when the remote dies, they could just touch a few buttons on the coffee table. Voila, up pops a blu-ray player with a 24 inch screen showing “Boogie Nights.” Here’s a table that comes DJ equipped.
As far as toasters go, surely China or Taiwan could pop a heat-resistant MP3 player into the thing. As your morning coffee is brewing, you could swing and sway with Sammy Kay–or whatever music turns you on–as flashing lights on the toaster sync with the tune’s rhythm. In fact, a bright person in 2002 demonstrated on the Web how to build a Linux-based MP3 toaster.
Apparel manufacturers have it easy with embedded electronic textiles where audio, video and even wireless connections to the Web are sewn into the fabric. Think of the possibilities. While sauntering down the street, you could simultaneously surf the Web or text you friend with a built-in QWERTY keypad. How about voice-to-text? Even more cool.
It’s clear to me that unless the clothing, furniture and appliance industries get off their behinds and converge electronic gadgets into their stuff, they’re doomed (not the game). With just a bit of ingenuity and marketing savvy, next year’s hottest household item could be a sofa with built-in virtual reality goggles and an audio woofer screwed to the base. Now, a sofa like that would sell better than an iPhone.
Worried about Internet privacy, web monitoring, flash cookies and who’s watching your website activity? Need better privacy protection in your life? Read on.
Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal published the first article in a series called “The Web’s New Gold Mine: Your Secrets,” a comprehensive piece describing how ad networks and Internet tracking companies are collecting your personal Web surfing data. In the biz, it’s called “behavioral profiling,” a euphemism for discovering consumer information for advertisers.
The Journal commissioned an Internet expert to study the nation’s top 50 websites for tracking cookies and “beacons” that reveal consumer Web activity.
While cookies, tiny bits of software identifying you and your computer, are useful for frequently visited sites, when you open your browser a lot more action takes place under the hood. For example, the nation’s top 50 websites on average install 64 types of tracking tools for each visitor. A dozen websites put more than a 100 of the little buggers on your hard disk.
What’s amazing to both Web surfers and website owners–like Dictionary.com, the worst offender–is lack of awareness about what’s happening.
Why should you care? The new tools scan your activity in real time, then attempt to discover your location, income, shopping interests and even medical condition.
Advertisers used to purchase ads on web pages they thought matched reader interest in their products and services. Now tracking Internet users’ behaviors across the Web is of greater interest. As advertisers learn more about you, they can better target their ads to match your interests.
They’re over 100 “middlemen”–data brokers and ad networks–vying to know your darkest secrets. Feeling a bit overweight? Don’t be surprised if you start seeing online ads for products and services that help you shed pounds.
Within a few seconds on eBay, a company called BlueKai starts auctioning off your searches for as little as a tenth of a cent. The information, of course, is all “anonymous.” But as tracking firms become more sophisticated, information collected on you becomes more accurate. (By the way, BlueKai allows consumers to opt-out from their tracking tools. Visit the site for more info.)
“Flash cookies” or “beacons” are the most nefarious tracking tools as they allow companies to follow every click of your mouse during web sessions. As I mentioned above, Dictionary.com was the worst offender, unknowingly allowing 41 web bits on their site. Comcast.net installed 55.
Fortunately, there’s something you can do about the data critters floating on your computer’s hard disk. The Journal suggested the steps below but I reversed the order and added one additional step:
Visit networkadvertising.org, an industry groups of marketers, and opt out of 50 ad networks
Install Trackerscan, a Firefox plug-in from Privacy Choice that identifies who’s tracking you. Also opt-out from ad tracking on its website
Install the Firefox “Better Privacy” plug-in to handle flash cookies
Install Ghostery, if you use Internet Explorer, Firefox or Google Chrome. This nifty plug-in controls those beacons that follow you around the Web like ants.
Check and delete cookies. This is fairly easy but the steps differ slightly from browser to browser. (Click on your browser’s help button for instructions.) Removing all cookies, however, means you’ll need to re-enter your user name and passwords on your favorite sites. So you might want to remove cookies with names you don’t recognize.
Adjust your browser settings. Un- checking “third party cookies” will rid you of cookies from sites you don’t regularly visit, but you may have to re-enter information when you return to those sites. (Safari ditches third party cookies automatically.)
Turn on private browsing. (Chrome = Incognito; IE8 = InPrivate Browsing). Think twice about doing this. Private browsing may increase your Web privacy but it deletes all your cookies when closing your browser. Kind of a pain especially if you use a lot of Google tools.
Monitor flash cookies. To fix this little bugger, go to the Adobe flash player web page and follow instructions. Heavy video fans may want to skip this step.
Change your Google history settings. The WSJ didn’t mention doing this. But Google makes money off of ads–including mobile phone ads. So if you’re concerned about Google following your Web behavior, clean out your browsing history. This automatically turns off browser history tracking. Later you can always turn history tracking on again.
You’re probably thinking “what a pain”–and you’re right. But if you’re worried about your Internet privacy, you’ll make the changes.
A parting thought: remember that every time you tweet on Twitter, write on a Facebook wall or leave your footprint on another social media site, you’re sharing private information. So watch what you write. It’s not just the ad folks and tracking companies watching. It could be your boss or your ex.