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"[Science fiction is] anything that turns you and your social context, the social you, inside out."
- Gregory Benford

Free Telephone Call  
  All telephone calls are free - in exchange for short commercials.  

In the frenetic future envisioned forty years ago by Ballard, nobody paid for phone service. That's because it was already paid for - by advertisers.

Before Judith could reply the telephone rang. Franklin lifted the kitchen receiver, listened to the gabble of noise that poured from it. At first he wondered whether this was some offbeat prestige commercial, then realized it was Hathaway in a manic swing.

"Hathaway!" he shouted back. "Relax, man! What's the matter now?"

"--Doctor, -you'll have to believe me this time. I tell you I got on to one of the islands with a stroboscope, they've got hundreds of high speed shutters blasting away like machine guns straight into people's faces and they can't see a thing, it's fantastic! The next big campaign's going to be cars and TV sets; they're trying to swing a two month model change--can you imagine it, Doctor, a new car every two months? God Almighty, it's just-"

Franklin waited impatiently as the five-second commercial break cut in (all telephone calls were free, the length of the commercial extending with range-for long-distance calls the ratio of commercial to conversation was as high as 10: 1, the participants desperately trying to get a word in edgeways to the interminable interruptions), but just before it ended he abruptly put the telephone down, then removed the receiver from the cradle.

From The Subliminal Man, by J.G. Ballard.
Published by Not Known in 1963
Additional resources -

Some readers may recall the attempt to provide free computers and internet service, in exchange for a advertisements that were constantly shown on the screen.

In 2006, Virgin Mobile USA customers were able to earn up to seventy-five minutes of free airtime in exchange for reading text message ads on their phones. (See Would you watch ads just to talk for free? for details.)

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from The Subliminal Man
  More Ideas and Technology by J.G. Ballard
  Tech news articles related to The Subliminal Man
  Tech news articles related to works by J.G. Ballard

Free Telephone Call-related news articles:
  - Advertising-Funded Cellphone Content
  - Nexus One Not Ballardian Free Ad Phone
  - Targeted Audio Ads On Your Cell Phone
  - Ad-Supported Free Telephone Calls
  - Google Patents 'Spy In Your Pocket' Smartphone

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