Greetings Best Online Friends — welcome to the one browser tab that you WILL close (because you would have actually read the content to the end).
This week was something I could have done without 👎. I only had space for two things this week, because my hatred for cryptocurrencies and the metaverse is significant:
- Facebook Connect has announced some new metaverse-based projects and I foresee problems with this, obviously...
- Rachel Coldicutt casually mentioned that there weren't enough thought pieces about all the outdoor crypto ads around London — so now I've written a small one. Anything for you, Rachel.
😵 Meta means 'dead' in Hebrew, be afraid
There has been a shit storm of Facebook news in the last couple of weeks: a whistleblower has told us about how Facebook consistently make decisions to increase engagement and profits, even if (or especially if??) those decisions are harmful. I have been numb to this kind of news for ages now, because it's all I expect from Facebook.
But this week, I've finally been able to wake up and smell the coffee token (the thing you will use to buy coffee in the metaverse). I've had a look at the announcements that have come out of Facebook Connect, which is Facebook's (sorry, Meta's) annual VR/AR conference, and two things stood out to me:
☝️ THING ONE: Horizon [insert word]. So, Horizon Worlds (still in beta) is Facebook's first tangible slice of the metaverse; it's a VR game where you can build and create things, and has a huge 'social' aspect to it. It's invite only right now, and honestly it just looks like a sterile hellscape of polygons and demented, smiling avatars with no legs. But... fine.
Right, so then this concept will now expand out into other things, because Meta want to have a hand in every aspect of our lives:
- Horizon Home: the new home screen for the Oculus will now be called Horizon Home, and instead of a functional collection of app icons, it will be a space you can invite people to. Because with Meta, EVERYTHING had to be a 'social experience'.
- Horizon Workrooms: have meetings in VR for NO REASON
- Horizon Venues: go to venues in VR and — do I really need to keep explaining it?
The broad stroke (yes, there's just one stroke): Meta are obsessed with getting us to connect with each other, but want us to do it while indoors, alone, wearing a headset, and dying of malnutrition (too many smoked meats).
🤘THING TWO: Presence Platform. This is the new developer suite that Meta will provide so that developers can easily build cool new things with mixed reality.
🚨 Uh oh, it's alert time:
- Facebook or Meta should not be making it easier for anyone to build apps on their platforms, or anyone else's. Facebook's SDK for normal phone-based apps is bad enough — I have talked about this a bunch when writing about Apple VS Epic.
- Facebook's frameworks and SDKs are designed to help you build things that will scale, and fast — no, this is the last thing we need; we already have enough tech that has been built quickly, and scales easily; do we really need this in AR/VR too?
- Mark Zuckerberg has a fetish for throwing things (lives?) against the wall and seeing what sticks (hurts?). He kind of built Facebook on a whim, and now it has literally destabilised democracy. He does not know what the metaverse is, what it will be able to do, and what it means for it to exist. Once again, he has no fucking idea what he's doing. But fine! Just build a virtual universe I guess!
Anyway, to deflect from all the bad press, Facebook have announced that they will delete all their facial recognition data — every face they've gathered since you first tagged yourself in a photo on a night out at Dirty Martini. Dammit, all that work I did training an AI in my early 20s — GONE.
🤑 If you're seeing Bitcoin on the underground, it's time to
Last week, Rachel Coldicutt tweeted saying that there aren't enough comment pieces about all the outdoor crypto ads in London. I am writing to you all today to prove her wrong (hi Rachel!).
Right so, I would like to look at two things that have been popping up recently: a Bitcoin ad that was banned in May, and (cringe) Floki Inu.
The banned ad is this one from a crypto exchange called Luno. It tells you that if you're seeing Bitcoin on the Underground, it's time to buy. The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said that this ad was misleading, and thus should be cast back to where it came from (oblivion).
This ad suggests that buying Bitcoin is just like investing in any other asset. Well... it isn't. While I imagine all of you are completely ensconced in tech, and at least roughly understand what you have to do to get some Bitcoin, we should assume that the majority of others have absolutely no idea — it's complex, risky, and brings you one step closer to being the ape guy, who actually called the FBI because someone stole his dumb NFTs.
💆♀️ Ape guy, I have a question: if you're dealing with currency which is completely decentralised, free from regulation by a central government then why would the FBI — a government department — care that a hacker 'stole' your JPGs? Think about it.
And now for a look at an ad which hasn't been banned yet, as far as I know. I'm talking about the one in Rachel's tweet, which says 'Missed Doge? Get Floki'. Context: Floki is the name of Elon Musk's dog, and Doge refers to Doegcoin, the cryptocurrency based on the doge meme. This all begs the question: when will the tech world stop being a horrible, 4chan Lite parody of itself? (Never, we will die this way).
👊 Time for a hard punch of truth about these silly ads: all they are selling is fomo.
- This FT article talks about how Floki, and others, are splashing out on marketing. They are able to do this because they charge a 4% fee to buyers using their platform.
- In other words, their business model is: 'make people buy crypto so that they can give some of it to us'.
- These ads aren't even selling the empty ideology of decentralised tech; it's literally buy now, or you'll miss out.
The final question is, why are these ads suddenly popping up now? The first answer I can think of: Covid-19. These crypto ads are preying on those who are either desperate for money, or need something new to do with the money they already have.
All I know is: I'm IN. A few years ago, I asked a crypto bro how he was, and he answered simply, "rich". I want to be more like him 🤪.
I hope you enjoyed this, Rachel! And everyone else I guess...
Thank you for reading, goodbye x