Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Now cut that out

I've been noticing an annoying trend in Web site advertising lately: audio. I'll be surfing around, listening to songs on iTunes and humming along, and all of a sudden my speakers will be flooded with some lousy canned music, usually way too loud and always disconcerting. Sometimes it actually seems to have been set up to coordinate with the actual concept of the site I'm visiting, but more often it seems cued to an ad. And as if that awful music isn't bad enough, other forcefed sound effects are creeping in. Yesterday I was convinced something must be horribly wrong with my computer -- I was hearing a loud crunching sound at irregular intervals, and it sounded for all the world like some evil virus having its way with my data. Only later, when the same sound came from my computer at work, did I finally notice that an ad on a site I visit often ended its little pitch for veggie burgers with a big bite being taken from the ad to the accompaniment of ... yep, that crunching sound. Is that really necessary? If this keeps up, browsers are going to have to come with some sort of discretionary mute button that will filter unwanted sounds while allowing ones we're actually interested in hearing. Or maybe advertisers could just shut the heck up.

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