But what if everyone is wrong about ads?

Valid point made here:

Here’s how Harvard-educated math wunderkind Jeff Hammerbacher summed it up in 2011: “The best minds of my generation are thinking about how to make people click ads.”

But what if everyone is wrong about ads? What if ads, in a fairly direct way, are responsible for much of what is magical, automated and “smart” about our gadgets and the Internet today?

There’s the simple argument that without ads, there would be no Gmail, no Facebook, no countless other services on which we all rely every day, but that isn’t what I’m talking about.

If we were to write a sort of People’s History of the Internet from the perspective of the ones who built it, a common theme would arise again and again: Many of those behind the curtain building the things we rely on cut their teeth in the ad tech world. Since the debut of the Web banner ad in 1994, ad tech has been a finishing school for some of the greatest minds in tech history, from unsung engineers to Sheryl Sandberg, who headed Google ’s ad products for seven years before becoming chief operating officer of Facebook.

via Hats Off to Web Advertising. No, Really. – WSJ.