Meta thoughts

Everybody that seems to have an opinion about Facebooks recent name change to Meta seems to have aired it by now.

So naturally, I thought it time to went my own two cents on the subject; why it changes nothing about the fundamentals, why it’s different from Googles renaming to Alphabet, why Mark Zuckerberg needs to succeed with the exercise and what bet he is making in order to make it happen.

First things first: Of course the rebranding from Facebook to Meta doesn’t change anything about the vast challenges that Facebook is facing.

On the contrary; the name change is a testament to the fact that one of the worlds leading brands in terms of market capitalization has become so toxic, it needs to be incinerated from public view.

It says a lot about CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his merry crew that they would rather throw their brand out than actually work to address and solve the myriad of issues affecting Facebook.

It’s will probably be the closest thing we ever get to Zuckerberg admitting guilt. Which of course he will never (see any reason to) do in the real world.

Second, the comparisons with Googles name change is some way off, IMHO. When Google changed into Alphabet it was basically for two reasons:

The original founders Sergey and Larry had pretty much lost interest in search and were looking to pursue other interests. And, more importantly, Google was doing so many different projects that had nothing to do with their core business that they probably needed an entire alphabet to keep track of them all.

Facebook – sorry, Meta – doesn’t have this. For all the existence of different apps, it’s still very much a social media company across software as well as hardware. Even though Mark Zuckerberg is dappling a bit on the side with other projects through foundations etc., it’s not like Meta is about to cure cancer.

Some would argue that Meta is much rather a collection of cancers than any kind of step towards a cure, but I digress.

No, there is a much more compelling reason for Zuckerberg to dip into the met averse in order to keep his collection of apps on a path of growth and prosperity:

The ownership of the operating systems and the platforms that come with them.

Facebook in its old form had grown way too dependent on other peoples OS’s and platforms being it Apple iOS, Google Android or whatever.

Normally that wouldn’t be a problem, because when you’re huge, you hold both sway and leverage within the ecosystem. But to Facebook it has been for the sheer reason that even though Facebook is huge, the OS owners are bigger and more powerful.

And – add to that – pretty pissed with how Facebook operates.

Example? Apples decision to limit apps ability to track users for advertising on iOS.

I could image Facebook has been the single biggest driver for the decision by Apple to roll that out. And on the other side, I could also imagine that that very move has been the biggest motivation for Mark Zuckerberg to go big on the metaverse and do the whole rebranding exercise to Meta right now.

He simply needs to build and own his own OS and be independent of the other OS owners.

So I think this is the light Meta and the bet on the metaverse should be seen; it’s Mark Zuckerberg big bet on creating a brand new form of operating system that he hopes will disrupt and replace and others, so he will be able to have to last laugh.

His biggest asset? The huge user base. If he can convert the users of the many Facebook apps into the univer…sorry, metaverse…he will have won.

Of course the biggest challenge that he will face in doing so, is the lousy history he has with many of the same users, who he through his failed stewardship of Facebook has failed time and time again.

Will they place their faith on more of the same, more immersed, potentially more powerful?

I seriously doubt it. But it’s pretty much the only big bet he can make.

(Photo by Dima Solomin on Unsplash)

94 minutes of doom

The other day I got around to watching the much talked about documentary “The Social Dilemma” on Netflix.

And let me just say it straight up: Despite the dystopia and concern about our technological ‘progress’ it exudes, I highly recommend that you take the time to not only watch it but also to really absorb and comtemplate the message – and take appropriate action.

I think most of who have been in tech for a long period of time have and have had our misgivings about social media, and what it’s doing to society. “The Social Dilemma” paints a grim picture, but there aren’t any really big surprises, if you have just followed along a bit.

In two instances it gets downright creepy in IMHO:

First of all, there is the mentioning of what this does to kids. I am personally terrified of the day my now 8 year old daughter gets her hands on a mobile device and starts being on social media.

It’s a personal ‘Dooms Day device’ in the hands of kids, and we need to be very thoughtful that we have only a couple of years – tops – to teach her how to have such a device without being hurt by it. It’s a gruelling task. Downright frightening, in fact.

Second, I am fascinated by all the brilliant people who participate in the documentary and how they contributed to where we are today. It’s one thing to feel remorseful and wishing you could have done something differently. It’s entirely different when you try to explain how your intentions were completely different – this was just something ‘that happened’.

Pardon me, but…bull…shit.

Every single one of these people have the brains and the skills to think more than one step ahead in terms of what they’re doing, building and letting loose. They had all the opportunities to stop and think.

They chose not to. Why? Because honestly they couldn’t care less back then. It was simply not how they were wired; to think deeply about the consequences of their work.

The problem is typical: We’re so fixated on building stuff that we don’t think about anything else.

And this is where – potentially – we end up. And in this particular case have ended up.

Of course you could argue that it is a bit over the top to come after these people who are now expressing regret. But honestly: Since it’s the same people who are supposed to spearhead the drive to fix things, would you bet your money that they are going to succeed?

I wouldn’t.

With that there is only one good option left:

Get your head out of your screens. And teach your kids what real life is really like. And that it’s always better than anything an algorithm can throw at you.

(Photo: Screenshot)

Corona thoughts, part 1

As Denmark is in virtually total lockdown it is quite interesting to observe how people and businesses scramble to deal with a totally new situation.

On the business side those that can are ordered to work from home. While many are used to having this form of working as part of their everyday job, for others it will be a new exercise. But equally important this will stress test both software systems and the IT setups of various companies. There is a huge difference between being able to offer the odd VPN connection and then basing the operation of your business around it. Some will notice that they have been asleep at the wheel and not got the right solution in place. Those will suffer the consequences.

Furthermore, on the business side, it is interesting to observe the effect the lockdown has on the gig economy, whether it is blue collar or white collar. While you could always assume that a lockdown would essentially kill the opportunities for blue collar workers, it is fascinating to watch how quick highly sought after white collar consultants loose close to 100% in value and have gigs cancelled on them. What does that say about the value of their offerings? Anyways, we must hope they have put a little aside during good times to cope with the situation.

Finally, on a more personal front it is frightening to observe our lack of adherence to authorities. In these times where SoMe has made everyone an expert on everything (or so it seems), this expertise doesn’t rime at all with the requirements of a real emergency. The ‘me-me-me’ attitude helped along by ‘see me-see me’ platforms such as Instagram doesn’t help much either. We make the mistake of thinking that we can transfer our behaviors from behind a screen out to behavior in real life. Normally, it wouldn’t mean a lot – it would just be stupid or even hurtful. Now, trying that can literally end up killing somebody. Think about that.

(Photo: Pixabay.com)