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I received a Google Home Mini a few months ago as a gift and have used it almost daily to listen to the news.
 

 
I used the Google Home app on my phone to subscribe to several channels, e.g., BBC Minute, Gizmodo gadgets and tech spoken edition, NPR World, Channel News Asia headline news, Straits Times news bulletin.

I like being able to control the device with my voice as I busy myself with chores around the house.

However, there is one news source — the Straits Times — that irritates me. It inserts voice ads promoting services near the end of its news. None of the other sources does this.

I do not know if there is a policy for or against force ads in this platform. My guess is that there is not a firm one, and since most providers do not advertise, there might be an unwritten or fuzzy rule not to include ads.

But on news source does this. It probably thinks that it is clever for taking advantage of this loophole or opportunity.

It is not. Listeners may leave them out of the news list. I leave out them last so that I can say, “OK Google, stop!” to not listen to the ad.

The issue is not one of economics. Listening to and providing these news snippets is not a paid service. Think of this as like tweets for your ears.

The issue is respect. If you do not respect your listeners, do not expect them to respect you in return.

Twitter is sometimes described as a stream of consciousness. I wondered if streams of unconsciousness might exist.

They do and I was upset when I saw one. It was like watching an unconscious loved one slip further into a coma.

Stream of unconsciousness -- Twitter ads in #edsg.

One stream of unconsciousness looked like this. It was an unbroken string of tweeted ads. Some might argue that the tweets were calls for proposals. So are unsolicited calls to your home or messages to your phone asking you to sell your flat. They are ads by another name. 

All that said, the organisers have every right to advertise an education conference. So I wondered why this bugged me.

On reflection, I realised that this was like what one other hashtagged channel did before it became a cesspool of vendor ads and shameless self-promotion. This is not edu-tweeting.

#edsg used to be a good example of edu-tweeting. Even after the regular chats went away, individuals would share useful or thought-provoking articles or they would ‘live’ tweet at education events. Doing these required careful thought and effort, unlike the bot-generated and auto “curated” tweets.

Imagine subscribing to an exciting and informative YouTube channel only for that channel to feature only shoutouts and ads. That is what #edsg threatens to become (some might say it is already there).

The good thing about both YouTube and Twitter is that I can unsubscribe or block what I do not wish to see. But that is not enough for me.

As a lifelong educator, I do not wish to see a learning space filled with white elephant boards displaying their company names. I do not like seeing an online space used without care.

I realise that my perspective is not shared by all. I choose to treat an online space like a physical and public one. It is shared and I choose to respect that space.

I can only hope that once the deadline in the ad is past, the ad tweets trickle to a mere drip or stop entirely. But the damage might already be done if the regulars do not return with recruits to share openly, wisely, and generously.

This is a video by the Fine Bros featuring teens who reacted to cigarette ads that used to run on popular media.


Video source

Such ads do not feature prominently anymore because we now know the harm that cigarettes do. However, for decades the cigarette industry placed profits over well-being and we let them do it. It took time, evidence, as well as social and political will to bring us to where we are today.

There will be many other things that people in 50 years will wonder why we accept today. Might we wonder why we schooled our kids instead of educating them?

Singapore teachers should be thankful that they don’t have to resort to doing things like this!

But, sadly, I think they can relate to the video at Not On The Test.

Even sadder, many won’t see anything wrong with teaching to the test.

Many thanks to tweeter sguilana for sharing the links!


http://edublogawards.com/files/2012/11/finalistlifetime-1lds82x.png
http://edublogawards.com/2010awards/best-elearning-corporate-education-edublog-2010/

Click to see all the nominees!

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