Thursday, October 18, 2007

Get spyware! Get spyware! Get spyware! Get spyware!

You know, I'd really like to get a cartoon picture of myself that can represent me online while looking nothing like me at all. Where could I get such a thing?

Sweet! I can make it look nothing like me! Leather pants, "bling" (oh, Zwinky, you're so cool), maybe some red hair? Gosh, I can "be anyone!" In some stupid cartoon avatar. That I should apparently spend all day fucking around with.

Fake Online Avatar Guy 1: "Are the girls ready yet?"
Fake Online Avatar Guy 2: "Nah, they're gettin' zwinky with it."

"Gettin' Jiggy Wit It" was released ten years ago. We're well past the point where you can reference it, even in oblique fashion as here, and have any credibility whatsoever. (That was approximately three weeks after the song hit MTV.) And this ad wants to be cool, so what were they thinking? I guess a world in which "Gettin' Jiggy Wit It" is still a hip reference is the same world where women hang out in their rooms changing the clothing on their virtual selves rather than go out with their boyfriends. And where those boyfriends are actually willing to tolerate such ridiculous behavior, rather than immediately going out to find smarter girlfriends.

Song: "Zwinkies are free and fun and hot!"

Well, they're certainly free. Sort of. What does that fine print say?

Fine Print: "Zwinky is free with download of toolbar."

Well, well, well. The catch. What toolbar is that? Oh, the MySearchWeb toolbar. Well, I'm sure there's nothing sinister about this at all. There's no way there could be anything money-making involved. I mean, this stuff is usually all philanthropic.

Oh, it isn't? Huh. That is shocking. I am shocked.

At best Zwinky runs ads on your computer. Even its backers will admit that. At worst it's spyware, tricking you into installing it by offering a "product" for nothing, and then sending data about your web habits back to its corporate masters. How do you think these guys afford ad space?

Spyware is bad enough when it sneaks itself onto your computer. But when it tricks you into installing it by making you think you're getting something cool out of the deal? That's just offensive. Frankly, I don't know why they allow these guys to buy ad space. Would you let some dude buy an ad for his pyramid scheme? "Hey folks, I'm Crazy Carl, and if you want to be rich, send a dollar to me and then buy one of these ads! Tell your friends - I'm on Channel 37 every morning at 4:30!"


Quivering P. Landmass said...

These are just digital paper dolls, right? This concept has been around since the Victorian age.

c12h22o11 said...

Yes, but now EVERYBODY can see.

Also, I had a Punky Brewster paper doll, and I was never able to fool anyone into thinking she was me.