Daily Archives: February 5, 2007

Drive-By Ads: Who Owns the Public Square?

A lot of people had a lot of fun at Boston’s expense last week.

Maybe justifiably so, to some degree. I don’t buy Boston Police Comish Edward Davis’ explanation (dutifully echoed by the Globe) that the fact that terrorists boarded planes at Logan Airport on 9/11 excuses the over-reaction that resembled a small War of the Worlds-style panic any more than anyone else.

Nor have I any intention of arguing with the conclusion that up here in New England we don’t always get the latest cultural spasms until the rest of the country has already passed them by. In fact, I kind of like that about us. I never have thought much of the way you guys snatch at the latest piece of cultural poopery like a hungry actor snatching at a roast beef sandwich in a gutter. We may have our faults, but in my opinion that’s not one of them.

No, what bothers me is the whole concept of “viral advertising” and the incredible corporate assumption behind it: that they own our public space and can do anything they like with it. Continue reading