Yahoo, Microsoft and AOL just sealed a deal to sell premium display advertising space for one another and for any smaller companies that join the consortium. That sounds like an antitrust case in the making, but the parties have one accurate defense against charges of collusion: Google is bigger and scarier.
What the alliance is really about, though, is fighting Google, the biggest purveyor of online display ads via its DoubleClick division. Google, of course, is also the company that handles your web searches and quite possibly your email, mobile phone software and social networking. So on the one hand, you can be ad-targeted by a dystopian tech monolith whose comically massive data farms contain enough personal information to make the Stasi blush. On the other hand, you can get targeted by three big corporations who are interconnecting their databases as part of a shared ambition to become such a monolith. Oh, who are we kidding, you'll get targeted by both. Happy surfing.