Sunday, January 20, 2008
Bus Radio - just Google-style evil?

I just read on Boing Boing that the same Florida county giving away free McDonald's Happy Meals to clever children has introduced Bus Radio, which advertises to kids on the journey to school.

Is this as bad as we think? I've been concerned for while that everything cool service I use (Gmail, Blogger, Flickr, Twitter, Vuze etc.) is free and paid for by advertising.

This is the Google way. Is it evil? Possibly. Do I like free cools things? Definitely. Am I being brainwashed? No. I don't even see the ads, except the ones I like.

The only reason people are getting upset about Bus Radio is because they think of the poor, defenceless children being advertised to while on the bus. Bus Radio hasn't done itself any favours by refusing to disclose who its advertisers are. As a result, the negative reactions across the web have been plentiful. Note that Bus Radio does say they the companies will be 'carefully selected'.

But if our children are all going to grow up in an advertising-funded world, perhaps it's a good thing that they're learning to filter out the corporate messaging early on? After all, the Governments aren't going to pay for music and educational programmes for our children as there's no obvious return. They're busy spending our money on war. And nuclear power stations. And space travel.

We can all agree that kids are going to enjoy having music on the bus. If the advertisers are the only ones willing to fund it, all power to them.

But if Bus Radio 'carefully selects' McDonald's as an advertiser, then it's time to have a word.