At HackTX 2014, my college friends and I decided to make a web application that could potentially
replace display advertising on the internet. The inspiration for this project was a project called
, which mined bitcoins in a browser
when someone visited a website. We like to think of this approach as a way to pay for the websites you
use everyday with your CPU cycles (after opting in) instead of your personal information (which is what
targetted advertising today relies on).
We demonstrated this functionality at the hackathon with a simple word counting program running on the
text of the US constitution and you can see how this works in
. We used
Firebase as a way to keep track of all the worker nodes (visitors to websites with an embedded iframe
instead of a display ad) and as a way for worker nodes to communicate to each other. We also didn't
exactly implement MapReduce, the day before the hackathon, I designed a protocol for us to implement
which is described in great detail at the link above. This worked reasonably well but there are a few
optimizations and improvements that we would need to make to deploy something like this that we outline
on the GitHub readme. The reception of Countdera at the hackathon was quite positive and we even had the
opportunity to present it in the finals to all of the contestants.
I personally believe that the world is moving in a direction that will value personal privacy more than
in the past and I think that eliminating targeted advertising is a good start. I even wrote a
very long paper
about targeted advertising once for a class in
college. I built Countdera with John Agnew, Dan Rutledge, Jim Given, and Josh Slocum.