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LanceLetter: Facebook VR ads; Fixing Hubble; Google Store; WWW NFT



June 21 · Issue #234 · View online

Stuff that matters.

Composed while setting up an outdoor home theater

Virtual commerce
Facebook which by some measures, basically owns the consumer virtual reality market (it’s not that big), is now considering putting ads inside your VR experience. Actually, it’s more than considering. The social media giant is launching an ad test on one game.
Online and on Facebook, contextual ads are already all around us, I’m worried VR ads will take it to the next and decidedly unpleasant level. When they run, these commercials will be more than just a YouTube ad break running on an oversized virtual screen. I expect them to be 360 and immersive. They’ll probably bit a bit overwhelming. Think of the ads running in Blade Runner and its sequel. They’ll appear large, overwhelming, and scary.
I’m also worried that ads inside these headsets could retard the growth of the market. I just don’t think this is what people want.
Perhaps Facebook will learn this from its test and walk back the idea. Or this sampling will like it or at least not hate it and virtual ads will become a permanent part of our Oculus experience.
Oh, Hubble
Last week, a computer glitch took the venerable Hubble telescope offline. It sounds like NASA has a good plan to get it back online but, seriously, this telescope was supposed to be kaput ages ago.
Launched 31 years ago, Hubble, which has helped us learn everything from the age of the Universe and planets to detecting dark energy, has undergone significant repairs in its extraordinary lifetime. A critical 2009 repair mission by Astronaut Mike Massimino not only fixed Hubble, but it also made it better.
Still, Hubble is not supposed to be our go-to-space telescope. The Webb Telescope’s 21-ft mirror and deeper position in space than the Hubble, was supposed to pick up the deep-space exploration slack as early as 2007–and maybe find some lingering evidence of the Big Bang. It’s a giant piece of hardware (I once stood under a scale replica) that’s been delayed multiple times, including once this year. Perhaps Webb will finally launch late this year or next and give Hubble a much-needed break. On the other hand, I expect NASA to fix Hubble and keep it running for another decade.
Speaking of space, this International Space Station solar array replacement project was a lengthy and drama-filled effort that included a six-hour spacewalk and a malfunctioning suit. Also, the ISS now has some company.
Google goes retail
Four or five years ago, I was working at Mashable on Fifth Avenue in New York City when Google opened a pop-up store next door. It was a fun and eclectic space that, I think, nobody really knew what to make of it. Was it a Google informational space or a Google product place? I’d say that was never truly worked out and Google was only so-so committed anyway. Eventually, the pop-up deflated and the space was empty again.
Google is now ready to commit to retail. Its first official store opened up in Chelsea (Manhattan) last week. Their model appears to be, in some ways, the Apple store. No registers, just helpful Geniu…er…Google assistants ready with the handheld point of purchase devices. There are also some activation spaces and other fun, Googlish stuff.
The choice to start a retail push is also interesting when you consider how Microsoft basically gave up on the effort. All that’s left is the Microsoft Fifth Avenue store. I guess Google sees Apple (which is now back to full capacity after shuttering most of the stores for the pandemic) and thinks: “This could be us.”
The NFT craze has cooled considerably since the spring but it’s far from dead. In fact, Sir Tim Berners-Lee’s decision to auction his original, 30-year-old World Wide Web source code as an NFT this week may revitalize the market.
My reaction, though, when I read this news was a groan. Does selling this as an NFT commercialize something historic or add value and protect it for future generations? I’m not sure. I think that the code is already well protected and appreciated. Is this a money grab?
Is this source code even worth anything? You do not gain ownership of the web if you win the auction.
People pay good money for numbered lithographs. Perhaps Berners-Lee will digitally sign the code. As far as I know, this is a one-time deal (I sure hope it is) and Berners-Lee is offering just one set of code, which adds to the value. On the other hand, it’s not like you could use the code to create your own World Wide Web. I mean, what would be the point?
If you win this auction, I suggest you print out the code and paper your office.
Amazon Prime Day
It’s on. There are a lot of deals. I had some thoughts.
The only thing worse than ransomware is the sequel.
See you soon.
Happy summer!
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