This article is part of the On Tech newsletter. This is a collection of past column.
Facebook acts like a little kid enamored with a new Lego set but then gets bored. Whether users and business partners get the clutter is up to the users and business partners.
Six years ago, Facebook said its next big thing is robot in its Messenger app to send text messages to help people order flowers or find a pair of jeans to buy. The idea isn’t far-fetched, but I’m guessing a Messenger bot doesn’t take your pants off.
The company also started development and then cooling with a feature that allows people live broadcast from their phones and on a TV-like video center called Facebook Watch. On Monday, Facebook throw in a towel on its planned digital currency, a forced project finance and goverment facilities for feedback, but that’s half-baked from the start.
Trial and failure can be healthy. For Facebook and other corporate giants, failure or a brief whim usually doesn’t do much harm. (The company changed its name to Meta, but I still stick with Facebook.)
But for the rest of us, Facebook’s stumbles could be lengthy. Ask any business partner to remodel their customer service team for Messenger bots, or dedicate their limited resources to creating videos for Facebook Watch, only to have Facebook enthusiasm fade.
This pain can be the inevitable price of invention. But especially now – as Facebook bet the company on a more diverse future of the internet, known as the metaverse — it’s worth asking what we gain and lose when companies with the power and influence of Facebook convince the world to follow them into a future that never comes.
In a way, it’s lovely when Facebook gets excited about a new idea and then – well, switch to another shiny object. Live video and Facebook Watch still exist. They just aren’t as high priorities as they used to be.
Other Big Tech companies are no longer interested in the things they once loved. (Oops, we all do this.) But perhaps no other company has a combination of The spread of Facebook and its willingness to announce THIS WILL BE HUGE, convince everyone to come along for the ride, and then… shrug.
It’s fine, at least for Facebook. But there can be a collective cost as companies and organizations react to Facebook’s no-deal ideas.
The Federal Reserve doesn’t have unlimited time and resources to research what it turns out to be Betamax of electronic money. News organizations, government organizations, and most businesses have limited resources – imagine what they might have done differently if they hadn’t reacted to Facebook’s latest obsession.
Even for Facebook, the staff and energy it is pouring into the metaverse could be better spent doing more to ensure its applications are not spreading election misinformation or allow authoritarian governments to misuse them?
I don’t know if there’s a solution to the collateral damage of Facebook whims. Maybe in the first place, it would be helpful if Facebook presented its new projects as hypotheses to test, rather than making firm and permanent statements about its priorities.
Facebook’s fixation on the metaverse To be different from its previous short-lived projects. First, Facebook is not alone in trying to pull us into a richer internet that blurs the lines between digital and real life. And for now, at least, this change of direction is a riskier bet for Facebook than it is for the company’s users or business partners.
But I can also understand the tendency for Facebook to believe – even if only briefly – that it can make our vision a reality. That is the power of Big Tech.
Effective Apple and Google technology specify how any company reaches potential customers online. When Amazon made free express shipping, Americans expected it from everyone. America’s Internet is turning into QVC because the tech giants want it that way.
We live in the world of Big Tech. Sometimes that gives us handy maps on our phones and online spaces for neighbors to gather. The flip side is that when tech giants like Facebook give up on their dreams, everyone else gets left behind.
Before we go…
A big month for video game mergers: Sony spends $3.6 billion buy Bungie, the company behind the Halo video game franchise. That comes after Microsoft spent $70 billion to buy Activision, and after Zynga, the company that made Words With Friends, was bought for $11 billion.
Sale related? The New York Times is buying Wordle, the online word game has gone viral.
Many businesses become doors to government services: Bloomberg News tells us about ID.me, a company whose software the IRS will begin using to scan facial recognition to prove Americans’ identities. Bloomberg also reports that it increasingly appears ID.me has exaggerated claims that the company uncovered $400 billion in thefts from state unemployment insurance programs. (Registration may be required.)
“Everybody in New York bets on sports” because a series of new online betting sites sprang up after the state legalized the practice, New York’s Intelligencer magazine writes. My colleague Kurt Streeter has a related column about the heartache of sports gambling addicts.
“It’s like bread and butter, you know? It’s like a Thomas English muffin with some jam. Good spread. “I wish there were more blizzards to hear from Andy the Massachusetts snow plow driver.
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https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/01/technology/facebook-experiments.html Collateral damage due to Facebook crash