I am being stalked by vintage Belgian furniture

… and how coasean sideboard transactions could save the internet from itself

This has been going on for over a week now.

Oddly, about a week after a similar sideboard was dispatched to the Great Living Room In The Sky (Do. Not. Tell. Grandma.), adverts offering to sell me this precise piece have started turning up in adverts.

My name is Albert Hendricks Vintage Rosewood Sideboard. You clicked my advert. Prepare to buy…

And now this precise item is everywhere I go on the internet.

I was going to list all the websites where I saw it, until I remembered how online marketing works

Possible Courses of Action: Live with it

To Be Entirely Honest, this has some appeal, if it frees up one of those on-line ad spots.

I could use it to store those on-line impulse purchases.

Possible Courses of Action: Fight. Back!

This Is Their Weak Spot: Let’s Exploit It

Play them at their game

Let’s break it down: their game is to make the best use of the precious advertising holes that the one-line ad network punches into our screens as we attempt to use the web. “One medium square here, one small square there”. This is their weak spot as it’s only a finite size before the host web page hosting the parasites is killed.

Here’s an example of desperation setting in:

The prices are all oddly precise, and always the same. Maybe if I bought 3 or 4 they might shift in price.

Let’s exploit this weakness — the advertisers are required to guess. If we consistently advertise false costs and false benefits to the ad networks, we can play them like a Stradivarius. We only need to signal our genuine and consistent interest in fine antique Belgian furniture, by clicking on the links and buying them.

Here’s where it gets tricky

Obviously, we want to avoid taking the hit of creating an economy crashing high frequency sideboard trading market, or crushing real world transport systems with transporting sideboards to and from former and new owners.

The entirely obvious answer: coasean sideboard transactions

The TL;DR; is that when there is no barrier presented by property right to utilisation of goods, the most mutually beneficial arrangement results.

In short, It doesn’t matter who owns the sideboards.

The downside

I guess there had to be a trade-off.

Main requirement: The “sideboard underground railroad”

This is the shadow network I will need to set up to buy, store and sell used (but mint condition) Belgian sideboards.

Communication only by tradecraft: dead letter drops; clandestine meetings; fax machine (while there is still working hardware) Numbers stations, regular meetings down the pub (possibly UK only).

Bummer: “But what I told them my preferences before already?”


OK: you’re burned: get your keys and some cash; walk out the door and move to New Zealand. If already in New Zealand: change island, and swear your new neighbours (who likely already know you) to secrecy. It’s OK: you can trust them, You’re in New Zealand along with all the other refugees from high end furniture ads.

How much time will this buy us?

I reckon we have at most 20–30 years, after that the AIs will be turning us upside down and shaking out our lunch money, metaphorically and literally.