The internet needs some basic sign laws

Even Houston

Even Houston, famous for its lack of zoning laws, has regulations on signs. A person in Houston is paid to be the “Sign Administrator.” And the city of Houston requires permits for signs that are over 6ft by 5ft and more than a name/logo. Other places have even stricter guidelines that aim to protect the aesthetic fabric of the downtown. Menlo Park includes a very specific diagram of how it wants its signs.

The internet may be in need of some basic sign laws.

TikTok can send me 5 notifications a day. Walmart averaged 3 a day for two weeks during the run-up to Black Friday last year. When Facebook recently changed their UI, they added MORE red notifications to my nav.

Who zones the Internet?

As Tristan Harris points out in his talks, our urban planners are Apple and Google. They set the rules of how apps can engage (or not engage) with us.

It’s a tough problem, but it’s not a new one.

The internet is just behaving like local retail shops. They are posting more and more signs so they can get noticed. It makes sense. And they will continue to post more signs if their neighbors are posting more signs.



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Kristen Berman

Kristen Berman

Thinking about Irrationality. Behavioral Scientist. Co-founder of Irrational Labs and Common Cents Lab.