When was the last time you saw a pop-up ad? They're not quite as prevalent as they once were, but they're still all over the Internet. The next time you get an annoying advertisement that pops up in front of the webpage you wanted to see, you can thank Ethan Zuckerman.
He's very sorry.
Zuckerman wrote a very in-depth article for The Atlantic explaining how he came up with the idea and why he regrets it. While working for website hosting provider Tripod.com, Zuckerman and his team devised a plan that would culminate with one of the most annoying things in the history of the Web. Here's how he tells it:
Along the way, we ended up creating one of the most hated tools in the advertiser’s toolkit: the pop-up ad. It was a way to associate an ad with a user’s page without putting it directly on the page, which advertisers worried would imply an association between their brand and the page’s content. Specifically, we came up with it when a major car company freaked out that they’d bought a banner ad on a page that celebrated anal sex. I wrote the code to launch the window and run an ad in it. I’m sorry. Our intentions were good.