Oops, wrong list, but not really. Truth be told, they’re all lies with a Silicon Valley spin, with the exception of the last point, which is a classic.
Facebook (Move fast and break things) is hemorrhaging young users, or at least not attracting them, and that may be one of the least of its problems (Inside the Two Years That Shook Facebook—and the World How a confused, defensive social media giant steered itself into a disaster, and how Mark Zuckerberg is trying to fix it all).
Adam Townsend did an excellent job at delineating Uber’s many problems (Will Uber be the death of Softbank /Ask forgiveness, not permission). Do companies call themselves the Uber of (insert vertical here) in their pitch deck? Used to be pro forma to describe how you would have a virtual monopoly on that vertical and achieve unicorn status at record speeds.
‘Connecting people’ or making their lives easier are not an excuse for extreme surveillance, nor is delivering fast search results, in order to sell you a new pair of shoes.
On balance, did this second phase of tech really help to move the human race forward?
Notes Maureen Callahan in Pulling back the curtain on Silicon Valley’s misogynistic, sex-obsessed tech culture, “Think of all that tech has brought us and the pitch vs. reality. The gig economy: Tech says this gave unemployed Americans ways to make money on their own terms; workers say they’re underpaid and unprotected. The ability to work remotely: Tech says this gives working Americans way more flexibility; working Americans say their bosses expect them to be available 24/7.”
What to speak of the consolidation of power. The latest: Google Will Block Spammy Ads (Just Not Many of Its Own). Says the Wall Street Journal, “Google’s Chrome browser will block certain types of online advertisements, a change Google is describing as user friendly. But some in the industry say the ad giant’s move is self-serving, and they contend Google overly influenced the process that selected which ad types to block. “This looks like an effort by Google to use its strong market position in browsers in order to prevent users from adopting third-party apps that block ads Google wants to make money from,” said Gary Reback, a Silicon Valley antitrust lawyer who helped persuade the Justice Department to launch its antitrust case against Microsoft Corp. in the 1990s.
Not that the company will be blocking ads on Google/Alphabet-owned YouTube.
There’s no doubt that tech has gotten over-the-top heavy and destroying any potential competitors so overtly that they don’t even feel the need to cover their tracks.
Given this, as well as the behavior modification experiments, the planned addictive nature of tech, the emotional manipulations that have come to light and the censorship that the tech cartel has been practicing, it’s no wonder that people are not only fleeing the platforms. They’re also fleeing Silicon Valley – both rank and file and long-time residents – including both Peter Thiel and Tim Ferriss (Like Peter Thiel, Tech Workers Feel Alienated by Silicon Valley ‘Echo Chamber’).
This is beyond being a mere echo chamber. What we’re witnessing is the weaponization of tech
Hubris and an unbridled need to control are never good things and a potentially fatal combination, especially in an industry where there’s always a next platform.
Which is, of course, the blockchain. Interestingly, most of the activity there is coming from outside of Silicon Valley – from New York and Los Angeles and tech hubs abroad. It may well be a return to the original promise of the internet – decentralization/users in charge – and a backlash against the walled gardens that have been choking innovation. A must read this week: Chris Dixon’s Why Decentralization Matters. Says Dixon, “Centralized platforms have been dominant for so long that many people have forgotten there is a better way to build internet services. Cryptonetworks are a powerful way to develop community-owned networks and provide a level playing field for 3rd-party developers, creators, and businesses.”
For more insight, Brian Aoaeh’s “#ChainReaction: Notes on Centralized, Decentralized, and Distributed Systems, quoting Marco Iansiti and Karim R. Lakhani: “True blockchain-led transformation… we believe, is still many years away. That’s because blockchain is not a “disruptive” technology, which can attack a traditional business model with a lower-cost solution and overtake incumbent firms quickly. Blockchain is a foundational technology: It has the potential to create new foundations for our economic and social systems. But while the impact will be enormous… the process of adoption will be gradual and steady, not sudden, as waves of technological and institutional change gain momentum.”
Slow and steady wins the race and it is a race for the future, taking the power back from the hands of the very few. It won’t happen overnight, which, truth be told, very few things that are ultimately succesful do.
We’ve certainly witnessed a lack of ethics in the Social Era/Age of Convenience, and as Tim Wu said in the New York Times (The Tyranny of Convenience), convenience is all destination and no journey. It seems that getting to blockchain will mean not only taking the long road, but hopefully, this time taking the high road as well. At the end of the day, it will pay off. So stay the course and don’t worry: the check is in the mail.
Onward and forward.