Over the years I have had the unusual misfortune of having products I like and use get acquired by Facebook. Sometimes good things come out of these deals, but often they do not. Here is my brief list.
A good lifetracking web app that had a really nice iOS app. At least until the team/co-founders were acquired. The web app continues to function, but the iOS app, which was my sole and preferred method of data entry; is no longer supported and crashes on start up. I know of nothing on Facebook’s end that came from this deal.
Mike Matas, the original designer behind iOS, brought us a fresh digital look into books and publishing. They go acquired in 2011 by Facebook after their first book “Our Choice” by Al Gore. The team at Facebook moved on to create Paper, which I have yet to try but is claimed by many to be good. Let’s remember that Paper took roughly two and a half years to make after the acquirement of PushPopPress.
I was pretty skeptical when I saw their Kickstarter in Summer 2012. Then I heard about a couple of my friends who got them and liked them. Now, where I work there are a few laying around and we have some plans for them in our interaction framework. They got acquired by the blue empire today and I can’t help but feel betrayed.
My first reaction was that it was some joke, or that it was a different Oculus. Then surprise. Now frustration and a little anger. What are they going to do with this if anything at all? Are we going to see some odd byproduct creation several years down the road like we did from the PushPopPress team? Or nothing, like what we got from the Daytum purchase. They’re either going to kill Oculus or turn it into something the original Kickstarter backers didn’t want. I really hope they don’t eff it up either way.
Today it’s getting harder and harder to escape advertising, remember when you could watch a video on any site without watching a video ad first? Modern corporate propoganda has become a finely tuned art of delivering a product that you’re more likely to want, and it could get worse. Below I’ll describe a few technologies that are all ceratainly within the realm of possibility, but hopefully, will never become a reality.
Products that are constantly listening and automatically forward reviews to their manufacturer on certain spoken keywords. This stream would be very easy to filter, bolstering a product’s rating. Posted reviews are in a converted readable format as well as their original audio format.
Eye glasses that superimpose advertising on whatever you look at. Of course you could always take the glasses off but then you couldn’t see.
Listening tables at resturants that adapt the adertising around or on the table itself to your conversation. This would ensure constatnly relevant advertising. The resturant of course gets a cut of the ad revenue.
Bar glasses that detect when the cup is empty and then make a recommendation on either another drink or to stop drinking. This recommendation could be intelligently made by a sensitive breathalizer in the glass, or a connection to a sensor in what you’re sitting that gets your weight and calculates BAC on the number of drinks you’ve had.
The same weight sensors in a resturant or bar could detect the customer’s overall health, gender, and age and direct ads based on those readings.
In case you hadn’t noticed, everyone of these ideas also violates privacy in many ways. If you are uncomfortable with thse ideas I recommend you give some thought to the ad stream just to the left of your Facebook timeline or Google Searches which have been curated based on your statuses, searches, and the ‘likes’ of you and your friends. I don’t think any of these ideas will ever manifest in real life, but in some form or another, they already have.
About a year ago I decided to leave Facebook for three primary reasons.
- Privacy issues.
- I was getting less out of the network than I was putting in.
- Trivializing human interaction.
Through the month of October and November I’m going to re-explore those points. Perhaps the way I feel about them will have changed. While I don’t think I’ll ever fully come to terms with their privacy settings and policies, it’s hard to remain critical of a product I haven’t tried in a year.
Around last year, I felt like I was posting into a black hole; content and statuses in, nothing out; nothing about it felt social. I was also in immediate contact with many of my friends on a day to day basis. Today those friends are scattered across the country and globe. I return to Facebook to give their mission statement a second chance.
…give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected.
Sharing is not what concerns me, and my Twitter feed is pretty open. It’s that I’ve been feeling disconnected, let’s see if/how/why or why not Facebook alleviates that.