Hello, please settle in as I write things about tech that are probably exactly what you wanted to hear.
First though 👉 I'm so happy that you enjoy my hastily cobbled-together content. Seeing as I'm freelance and all my clients could decide they hate me at the DROP OF A HAT, it would be great if you could become a paid member and help me realise my dreams of finally saying no to work that I don't want to do. There's a free mug in it for you...
This week was sort of okay I guess? 🤷. Why?
- Microsoft's Satya Nadella struggles to fit in with his fellow humans as he coins the term 'enterprise metaverse'
- The astronaut club has just become a touch more exclusive
- ...but don't worry, you (a regular consumer) can still go to space via a new kind of avatar!
🤡 You're not an astronaut, you're just a billionaire
Time to intro with something light and full of nonsense: the Federal Aviation Administration just changed the definition of an astronaut to exclude Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson. This is after they both went on an orbital joy-ride earlier this month. Jeff Bezos went just last week, and has accused Richard Branson of never having gone into space at all.
This may be the first time these two bloated, privileged, capitalist oafs have ever been excluded from anything. I'm not saying this is amazing, but it is quite funny. Allow me to pull out an old favourite, the laughter alignment chart:
🌌 Into the bullshitverse
This week I read that on a sales call on Tuesday, Satya Nadella said the words 'enterprise metaverse'. First of all: how dare he. Second of all, this is quickly becoming the new blockchain. Why did he say that? What the hell is he talking about?? But first the all important question...
What is the metaverse? No, stop it, if I answer that, I will just give it more POWER and that's the last thing it needs.
...I won't do it, you can't make me.
Yeah keep scrolling dummy.
...OKAY FINE. The metaverse is a techno-capitalists wet dream; it's a place where people are reduced to consumers and forced to continually engage with brands; it reinforces the idea that online interactions have to be gimmicky and 'fun'; anything based in the metaverse has to somehow traverse realities (VR, AR, and the physical world) effortlessly; but crucially: the metaverse has it's own economy and it is not owned by one single company. In other words — and this is the buzzword icing on the jargon cake — it is d e c e n t r a l i s e d.
Who else likes the metaverse? Well, the Winklevoss twins do, because it's part of their whole 'we have to do something with all this Facebook money' venture. They love the idea of a metaverse because it will allow them to keep using some form of cryptocurrency until they die (if they ever die).
Furthermore, this week The Verge interviewed Mark Zuckerberg who is planning on very much being a large part of this whole metaverse thing (just so we're clear: it does not exist yet). Facebook just established a new metaverse division which, along with Oculus, will seek to build out more products that you need to get a metaverse going. So, I dunno... more wearables (like headsets), more AR and VR experiences, more reasons to stay logged in to Facebook.
Zuckerberg is especially excited by the prospect of a metaverse because it upholds one of his favourite things: interoperability. As you may imagine, this is one of my least favourite things. Interoperability is the idea that products and services connect together seamlessly all for the convenience of the user — I argue that it is really for the convenience of the Tech Giant; to soak up more hours of limited user attention, and take up more space in the market for maximum profits. This is exemplified in this rather gruesome quote:
“I don’t think that this is primarily about being engaged with the internet more. I think it’s about being engaged more naturally.”
Mark Zuckerberg, master of the metaverse
☝️One problem: Morning Brew recently conducted a poll about VR and AR headsets, and found that 35% of Americans named Apple as their first choice to buy a headset from, and only 5% mentioned Facebook. Important note: Apple haven't even made a headset yet.
So, now that we know what a metaverse is (and why it sucks) why did Satya Nadella say 'enterprise metaverse'? Because he's an idiot.
☄️Speaking of stuff in orbit and the metaverse...
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) have developed robots that humans on Earth can remotely control around the ISS. This is mostly meant for entertainment, so the robots aren't even called robots... they're called avatars. Also the experience will be virtual, which sounds a little too metaversy for my liking. The slogan for this project is 'Space for all — open a new era of commercial space travel'.
🤔 A few things from me:
- We've hardly entered the first era of commercial space travel — why are you already trying to create a new one?
- TECHNICALLY space is already for all; we are all in it as we speak; it's just really hard to get off the planet so, naturally, that process is gate-kept by companies and other institutions.
- Remote controlling a robot in space is probably not as cool as it sounds; our obsession with venturing into space as an expensive gimmick/new thing for poor people to aspire to is an unhealthy and misguided allocation of resources — why don't you just explore the riches of our Earth while it's still alive and/or play Kerbal Space Program?
Going into space 'for fun' has the same energy as, say, a cat cafe. Why are you doing that? There are many, less upsetting ways to have fun. Maybe I'm a purist, but going into space is for scientists and mid-stage start ups who've figured out how to 3D print rockets that mine lithium on nearby asteroids.
Well look at that, you made it to the end. You and I have so much in common. Maybe I should buy you dinner? Except I'm a little strapped for cash so maybe you get this round. Wear something hot x