Online ad sales have not supported much in the way of “citizen” digital media, nor have ad sales done much for traditional journalism (if you doubt that statement, witness profitable magazines asking writers to work for free).

And as Scott Rosenberg notes (his The Wordyard Project, is one of my favorite *big thought* blogs), online advertising can’t keep pleading youth as an excuse for its lack of success (20 years is plenty: let’s stop waiting for online ads to mature). And that counting on online advertising to support the Intertubes might just be the reason the Internet often sucks:

But mostly, advertising online today is a plague. I don’t believe advertising itself is inherently evil — so Zuckerman’s “original sin” formulation might ring the wrong bells. But it warps the good things about the Web. It stands between us as we encounter one another online. It creates incentives for publishers to make things less usable and less useful, and to blur distinctions that should be crystal clear (as with the new “native advertising”/advertorial fad). So far, it has kept us from fulfilling the potential of the medium we are building.

I argue that nearly every characteristic of the digital medium that critics abhor — its pileup of distractions, its invasions of privacy, its corrosions of trust — turns out not to be an inherent characteristic of the technology at all. These modern media maladies are byproducts of bad business models.

The ad-supported business model was force-fed to traditional media (and traditional media consumers) by tech and new media companies. Back then, those companies were aggregating content and shearing away much of the value before content producers saw a dime (if they ever did).

In other words, tech wasn’t developing a business model for the Internet as much as kicking the can down the road in a direction that worked for them — not media companies or content producers. That the result involves eroding privacy, an unpalatable blurring of the line between editorial and advertising, and declining compensation for content producers isn’t really that surprising.

(Easily Answered Question: Does anyone doubt the same travesty is unfolding in the privacy/big data arena?)

Keep writing, Tom Chandler.