The Best Minds of My Generation Are Thinking About How To Make People Click Ads

Jeff Hammerbacher? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: The famous poem “Howl” by Beat Generation poet Allen Ginsberg begins with a despairing cri de cœur: 1

I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked…

A very different mordant message was delivered by a Millennial who worried that his cohort was enmeshed in online advertising, and the most gifted were trying to convince people to click on advertisements. Would you please help me to find a citation?

Quote Investigator: In April 2011 “Bloomberg Businessweek” published a profile of Jeff Hammerbacher, an early employee of Facebook who gathered data about the behavior, relationships, and desires of the users of that quickly growing social network. Ultimately, the data allowed the precise targeting of advertisements, but Hammerbacher developed misgivings. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI: 2

After a couple years at Facebook, Hammerbacher grew restless. He figured that much of the groundbreaking computer science had been done. Something else gnawed at him. Hammerbacher looked around Silicon Valley at companies like his own, Google (GOOG), and Twitter, and saw his peers wasting their talents. “The best minds of my generation are thinking about how to make people click ads,” he says. “That sucks.”

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order. Continue reading The Best Minds of My Generation Are Thinking About How To Make People Click Ads


  1. 1989, The Macmillan Dictionary of Quotations, Topic: Madness, Quote Page 344, Column 1, Macmillan Publishing Company, New York. (Verified on paper)
  2. Website: Bloomberg Businessweek website, Article title: This Tech Bubble Is Different, Article author: by Ashlee Vance, Date on website: April 14, 2011, Website description: Business news, (Accessed on June 12, 2017) link