Things of Internet: The future of the internet?

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Things of Internet
Things of Internet: The future of the internet?
By Deepak / Chuck • Issue #70 • View online
On Thursday, Facebook formally declared their intent to be a Metaverse company, and created a new parent company brand.
Usually, every 10th edition of this newsletter is a ‘spring cleaning’ edition devoted to sharing a bunch of links. But this news is too important to not talk about. Some unstructured thoughts about Zuck’s new vision.
Parts of this are also taken from a recording from my podcast, Simblified, which I did on the same topic along with my co-host Tony.

Meta: What does it all mean?
Facebook’s new stock ticker is MVRS. Oculus - the VR devices that really kick-started this journey - will now be called Meta. 10,000 people hired for Metaversing. It sure looks like the company is pulling out all the stops. From a Quartz analysis:
Zuckerberg laid out an egalitarian vision of the metaverse, stressing the need for lower fees for developers and better interoperability. Yet the presentation was exclusively about Facebook products that are in the works. There was no discussion about how Facebook would govern its considerable market share in this new internet medium, little assurance about how privacy or anonymity protections, and no details about content moderation in Facebook’s slice of the metaverse.
By now, I’m sure all of you have a sense of what the metaverse will be: A virtual space where we play, live, work. Perhaps in 2030 or 2035 we will look back at our physical selves using the internet as a rudimentary imperfect stop-gap between living fully physically, and (almost) fully virtually. Shaan Puri summed it up nicely in a thread of which this tweet was the pivotal one:
Shaan Puri
So if you play this forward another 10-20 years - we will cross into the metaverse

The moment in time where digital matters more to us than physical.

Our attention used to be 99% on our phsysical environment.

TVs dropped that to 85%
Computers down to 70%
Phones.. 50%
This has several ramifications which can be told only by time (and lots of money). Digital goods will become more commonplace. What is a better mic, webcam and virtual background if not ways to enhance our perception to others through the internet? A future where we spend more on virtual enhancements (dresses, exclusive art, skills) is not unfathomable. When you think of it that way, NFTs start making sense. The bubble we’re living through right now - where people are shelling out millions for a pixelated image - is just that, a bubble. Humans have always been about signaling via ownership, and now with more of our lives going online, NFTs and what they represent are just an extension of that.
The careers of the future
We might see things like virtual world building, digital architects, online concert stage manager, and more becoming a reality. In as short as 5 years’ time. And whatever else a metaverse where we spend 90% of our time might entail. There are several jobs to be created in virtual education, entertainment, not to mention the economy itself. What happens to the real world then? Will there be jobs bridging the two? How will cybersecurity evolve? Personal image management? Virtual architecture? In-metaverse advertising specialists?! It’s mind-boggling and a possibly fun conversation to have over beer.
More hardware, more intrusion
However, many are uncomfortable with Facebook being the torchbearers for this new frontier. See if you can spot the point in this interview that Zuck did with Ben Thompson (Stratechery) where things escalate a little bit:
We’re trying to help build a bunch of the fundamental technology and platforms that will go towards enabling this. There’s a bunch on the hardware side — there’s the VR goggles, there’s the AR glasses, the input EMG [electromyography] systems, things like that.
Ok….ay. I was all for VR headsets but medical devices plugged into me? And Facebook controlling that? Not so sure.
But who knows what the future will bring? Facebook will need a lot of hardware to make this reality happen. I definitely see VR devices being as ubiquitous and indispensable as, say, a smartphone is today. It that seems ludicrous, remember that smartphones themselves were thought of as a novelty or a rich person’s toy when they first came out. Technology, capitalism and human demand have a way of making things ubiquitous and available at all price points. In the next decade, expect Reliance to launch a JioNextGlass which will be a budget headset so “everyone can explore and work in the metaverse”, priced at ₹2999 (cost in 2021, inflation-adjusted).
Prediction: Sometime over the next decade, we will be able to smell and taste via the metaverse. Don’t ask me how. But I think it will happen.
But FB needs friends
Facebook’s reputation is shit right now. Among tech peers, among general public, among its own employees and most of all among regulators. Not the best starting point while building humanity’s next frontier. The metaverse isn’t a single website or piece of hardware. It’s a concept that will need cooperation from everyone. It won’t work as a walled garden. Dare I say it’s the most fantastical leap on the internet since Tim Berners-Lee thought up the WWW in the late 80s.
And Facebook is currently a company known to prefer growth over safety, is the subject of a series of damning leaks, is struggling to be relevant with teens (even Tiktok is outpacing Instagram in other markets), is proven to have spread hate and violence around the world (this one WaPo experiment around hate speech in India is a good example), and insists that it does not amplify hate (even as new leaks show it gives 5x as much oxygen to posts with an angry emoji rather than a like)… And that’s just the last month. Reminds me of this Homer Simpson sketch:
Homers Week - Funny Hurting Moments
Homers Week - Funny Hurting Moments
Look, it’s obvious Facebook doesn’t have too many friends right now. And it needs to fix that. Axios summed it up nicely:
To build a vast new metaverse platform for remote work and entertainment, Facebook will have to persuade partners and the public that it has turned over a new leaf and can be trusted. That’s looking harder by the day.
Heck things are so bad that other tech firms’ primary defence seems to be “we’re not Facebook”.
Zuckerberg started his keynote by saying “I’ve been thinking a lot about our identity”. Well, just changing a name isn’t going to change the fact that Zuckerberg Inc. still has a LOT of problems to solve, as much as it wishes they would go away like a mosquito so he can focus on building the next big thing - even if it’s altrustic.
I’ll give Zuckerberg this - I think the Metaverse is a fantastic idea. It’s probably the most ambitious - if not innovative - thing that a Big Tech company has done in the last 10 years (Okay okay, Apple fans - removing the audio jack was an innovation. Calm down). I would like this to work. I think it holds a lot of promise for business, entertainment and dare I say our species. The sheer number of jobs this can create will make up for whatever impact AI has on headcounts. Zuckerberg still could be remembered as a saint in 2035, something that seems impossible now (perhaps he could take a lesson from his idol Bill Gates?).
But getting there ain’t gonna be easy - in this world, or the meta one.
Right, some links now.
  • Before Jio goes and makes an affordable VR headset a few years from now, we will have to be content with the JioPhone Next that just got launched! Here’s Mukesh Ambani’s tech collaborator giving us the lowdown.
Sundar Pichai
Voice-first features, language translation + a smart camera - we built the JioPhone Next in deep collaboration with @reliancejio to meet India's unique needs & languages. Excited to see this device help more Indians access the internet through a smartphone https://t.co/hEcqm0esBh
  • The Economist auctioned off one of its covers as an NFT and made over $400k, which will be donated to its educational foundation.
  • And yes, we need to talk about it, that Cadbury’s campaign. Absolute stunner. Hats off to Ogilvy and Rephrase.AI for pulling this off. And importantly, sticking to their guns given the protagonist.
Supporting Local Retailers This Diwali | Not Just A Cadbury Ad Campaign Video
Supporting Local Retailers This Diwali | Not Just A Cadbury Ad Campaign Video
  • Read more about the above campaign here. The additional genius in this campaign was building the ability to customize the ad so individual shop owners could make their own Whatsappable versions. This is definitely going to swoop up all the awards, though I’m not sure I’d agree with one Youtube comment that says that the minds behind this should be given the Nobel.
  • The Economist has a very good rundown about what an NFT is, in simple language (paywall/registrationwall).
  • Facebook’s name change might not really help all that much.
  • Google’s got a neat new VR simulation tool to train police in various situations. What and all this company does.
  • This hilarious bit about how Chinese influencers are posing next to the Shanghai Costco pretending to be in LA. Try as Xi might, America remains aspirational for the youth!
The updates section
I came across this
The best promo email I got this week was by Metallica. Saying that they now have a program on MasterClass. Here’s the email, and you can check it out the MasterClass itself here. It’s about how to work as a band (and I’m guessing, larger lessons about teamwork). Emailer below for your benefit.
They missed a trick by not calling it Masterclass of Puppets, though.
See you next week!
With more things from the internet. This newsletter remains 2D for now.
Chuck
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Deepak / Chuck
By Deepak / Chuck

A weekly newsletter with some cool digital stuff. Something a brand did, a nice new app feature, something from the world of entertainment, an occasional editorial... Ideal for those who are in marketing, or simply love the internet and trivia. Every issue also includes something from the archives. It'll be insightful / useful / fun. Hopefully all three!

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