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pervasive advertising

an advertising network coordinated across multiple media types, locations, devices and contexts, aware of individual purchasing habits and personality profile

pervasive advertising

Advertising which is not only targeted toward an individual’s psychological profile, but which understands context and follows the target from device to device, from location to location, home, work, school, shopping, and public spaces of all manner. Remember when someone decided to put advertising posters on the walls of bathroom stalls? It’s like that, only dynamic, adaptive, and powered by always-on, high-bandwidth networking, capable of showing video and playing audio, and adapting to every new situation, from reading your email to watching television, to buying gasoline, to walking down the street beside the wall of a building.

Rather infamously science fiction writers and futurists almost entirely failed to meaningfully anticipate any aspect of the modern Internet. Broadly familiar due to the popularity of the franchise, in the late 1960s, as the Internet was being created in a laboratory, Star Trek, the original series, had something similar to a tablet computer which made the occasional appearance, but refrained from any attempted commentary about what communications networks might be like in the future. In the 1990s, as the World Wide Web was being born, The Next Generation had a slightly better AI-powered encyclopedia on the Enterprise.

One author, though, imagined pervasive advertising in ways that are startlingly familiar to folk living in the modern age. Philip K. Dick, who was perhaps more in tune with paranoia than most authors of his time (from the 1950s into 1982 when he died of a stroke) sprinkled elements of targeted, pervasive advertising throughout his writings. Most often cited in this context is his short story, The Minority Report, in part because a thoroughly convincing portrayal of pervasive advertising is incorporated into the the 2002 movie based on it — but Dick first wrote compellingly and unambiguously about the idea in his 1954 short story, Sales Pitch. Elements of the idea of pervasive advertising are (perhaps in some cases arguably, as they are presented in cloaks of supernatural phenomenon or psychological disintegration) seen in Valis, Solar Lottery, and other stories.

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