META, GIGA, Ultra … will everyone soon become gaga?
A week ago, before the WebSummit 2021, I’ve posted my thoughts about the meta/FB thing.
I’ve been observing reactions on my posts and had many talks about the Meta-thing.
My general position has not changed. I still try to avoid calling the new thing the “Metaverse”, because in the brilliant novel “SnowCrash” some characters in their dystopian society develop unhealthy addictions to the virtual world, never disconnecting and avoiding reality at all costs. Sounds like infinite scroll in social media, right?
The MetaZuck is not the new kid on the block I’d give a freshman bonus for a brilliant new idea. No, he is the experienced old predator pretending to collect daisies.
Everyone who listens carefully to Frances Haugen and other insiders, must inevitably hear the alarm bells.
Since a while a wave was formed that reached a significant height, hopefully huge enough to pull the XR topic under the Meta-umbrella out of Gartner’s hypecycle of disillusionment.
And yes, Facebooks move of how they will be spending $10B a year is very important. It should be a signal that smth great could start. Facebook does not invest or “create” this out of a humanitarian feeling, but to make craploads of money. But everyone will need to commit to an invest.
Yes it will need many years, some dead ends, some rethoughts.
Charlie Fink mentioned it might take ten years and cost $100BN but in the end they (McMeta) will own it. “Zuck has been very consistent about this. XR was always going to be their platform play, their answer to iOs, Android and Windows.”
And here starts my HELL NO. And it’s nothing to celebrate, this is rude land grab – digital colonialism. In some places on this planet Facebook is already the synonym for Internet. Facebook officially changed its name and ticker symbol from Facebook (FB) to Meta (MVRS) Meta.com. This small detail shows their claim to the whole Metaverse!
Sir Tim Berners-Lee said “the Internet is broken”. I doubt that Meta will repair it. Remonetization with crypto, embedding a freemium model (maybe), and controlling the meta… No company, no “Zuck” should own a new social dimension. Being part of it, ok. Owning it? Again NO. Total ownership could bring digital slavery and new kind of repression when it turns really bad.
At the same time I started to worry more about the loud voices praising ZuckerDude for such a brilliant move, trying to surf the MetaWave. But mostly it seems to come from ppl who wants to catch in the bow wave of this move, to increase own success, own presence. Not really reflecting. We need to define the yes and no. Else it’s more like subway surfing, one day you will be hit by unintended consequences.
In the following article I am sharing the why, why not and how it should be instead.
P.S.: has anyone already noticed that FAANG becomes MANGA?
So far, FAANG has referred to the five giants Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google. What is the new acronym? MANGA?
Prince was a brilliant artist and I will now steal, ummm, “borrow” one of his moves.
TAFCAP – The Artist formerly known as Prince…
Facebook turning meta is
TCFKAF – The Company formerly known as Facebook.
It is from several perspectives symbolic.
Where it was a brilliant move for an artist it is a cheap and dirty trick for a company to get rid of the increasingly bad connotation of its name and no longer being associated with their scandals.
“Borrowing” from Prince describes the main biz model of TCFKAF … “borrowing” from others, from the beginning on.
Facebook has been “the world’s biggest media company that does not create any content” for a long time.
No own content because in their user agreement, all content generated by the community, belongs to Facebook. Even in the messenger, their private chat that is not so private. All your thoughts, pictures and files are Facebooks property as soon you upload them.
Officially, Mr Zuck wants to realize his vision of the Metaverse as the “next evolution of social technology”. A virtual space, similar to the 3D world Second Life, in which people can interact with friends and family as if they were physically in one place at the same time. Now the realisation is getting closer of what we’ve been dreaming about for years. A wonderful vision for the future. But is copy&paste a real environment into a synthetic reality the right way? At VR we have dozens of platforms like HighFidelity, Sansar, Altspace, vTime etc. Facebook has their Spaces.
So why will MetaZuck invest $10BN per year? What exactly is that supposed to be? What is _his_ Metaverse?
Metaverse is a term coined by Neal Stephenson in his novel Snow Crash nearly 30 years ago. A fully manifested digital world that exists beyond the analogue one in which we live. Stephenson used the term to describe a VR based successor of the internet. This next iteration of the internet, where humans, as avatars, interact with each other and software agents, in a three-dimensional virtual space that uses the metaphor of the real world.
CNBC wrote recently “This 29-year-old book predicted the ‘metaverse’ — and some of Facebook’s plans are eerily similar.”
Well… again “borrowing”…
Remember the movie “Ready Player One”? So this is what immediately comes into my mind, including Halliday vs Sorento and the fight for domination.
Well how about William Gibsons Cyberspace?
Here, the implementation in reality has strayed far from the vision described. When we think of Cyberspace, we usually think of the Darknet, Ransomware and other harmful content.
So what can we expect from this Metamove? And is the Zuckdude the only one? Nope.
A Wild West race started to claim the best shares. Companies like Microsoft, Niantic, Roblox and Epic are also planning their own interpretations of Metaverses.
And everyone is looking for domination.
In Snow Crash, people use digital avatars of themselves to explore the online world, often as a way of escaping their dystopian reality. Same in Ready Player One. Meta already faces an ongoing wave of criticism over the negative effects of its social media platforms, like Facebook and Instagram, on its users’ mental health.
In the novel Snow Crash, some characters develop unhealthy addictions to the virtual world, never disconnecting and avoiding reality at all costs. Well sounds like Facebook and Insta to me…
Also dataprivacy and greedy remonetization at all costs is smth to stay aware of, before the digital dystopia is called Meta. If Facebook penetrates all areas of digital life with its (proprietary) Metaverse vision, it can become an indispensable superpower. Horizon Workrooms already exists in a beta version and provides insights into a virtual workplace. There, colleagues can work together on presentations in the virtual room using an avatar. Then why do we still need industrial espionage? Other cooperation partners besides Zoom include Dropbox and Slack.
Zuckerberg promises “privacy from day one” but… I doubt on his motives, because since 17 years we see how much he cares. Maybe Facebook is not inherently evil. Most classic industries need a digital transformation to learn the data driven business, Facebook needs an ethical transformation instead. Over 3 billion users give Facebook far too much power over our society.
Oh one funny thing: If you go to meta.de, you land on a website of a company for “Privacy Solutions”, how appropriate. meta.de produces partition walls for toilets.
Many elements for the Metathing already exist. We have avatars, affordable headsets, cryptocurrencies. But the tech is still in its babyshoes. The basic headsets are *meh*, still heavy and the battery life is too short, the high-res are very expensive, plus a super-pro gaming unit is needed. That makes it quite stationary.
So many of the dollars from McZuck have to go to new hardware, mobile and more immersive. Materials to simulate the right feeling need to be found.
In Neuromancer the solution was quite simple, they have bypassed these with neural implants. In my opinion a very elegant solution.
How quickly Facebook can implement their Metavision depends not least on the hardware, which cannot be developed in the short term.
AND are the users willing to pay? Or will this experience be overrun by Meta-banners and Meta-ads? Collecting data in a new dimension?
Alan Smithson wrote: “Think about how many times a day you, personally use one of their incredible products (Facebook, Messenger, WhatsApp, Instagram, Oculus) without any cost to you (except giving up your data to advertisers without your knowledge, but more on that later)”
I do not agree. “Without any cost to you” is naive. And not just to advertisers.
Oculus is not for free, it has a price, PLUS being forced to register and – again – giving up data. What is done with this “no cost data” is intransparent. Remonetized through several streams. Remember Cambridge Analytica?
According to Privacy Affairs, data from a total of 1.5 billion Facebook members are offered in an underground forum. This means that around half of all users of the social network are affected by the data leak. Some of the data sets contain sensitive information: Name, gender and email address of the users as well as their locations and telephone numbers.
Will we need Meta-filters to protect us? The word Metadata takes on a whole new meaning… All your data are belong to us. Did the Mark have that in mind when renaming?
The right way to M:Verse. I see it more as an add-on to the existing connectivity layers, enabling spatial interactions. Creating a new “social” dimension.
Honestly, we would have needed this during pandemic to compensate social distancing to “just” physical distancing. Offering us a healthy (remote) interaction to stay connected.
Absolutely necessary is interoperability, multimodality and collaboration.
The “real” Metaverse should be the connectivity layer as an open platform. Connecting the different verses and incarnations. It should be easy to hop from one to another as a seamless experience.
Interoperable, when you log out, you should be able to enter where you left.
Multimodal, for the fast experience with a smartphone/tablet, more intense via computer and spatial when using any kind of XR device. It should adapt on the quality of the device, always offering the best (tech possible) experience.
And don’t forget… WE are VR. We as community have to keep an eye on this development, and stop what we don’t like. Privacy and safety need to be embedded in our actions and our products. Monopoly of all communication should be banned.