Facebook, Walmart and How Companies Shouldn’t Set Up in the Metaverse

Facebook, Walmart and How Companies Shouldn’t Set Up in the Metaverse

On the surface, the entire premise of this sort of nonsense is that people will enjoy and use inferior metaverse applications just because … 3D is cool, I guess? Certainly, there’s no attention paid to what users actually want or need out of an online shopping experience. On the most basic level, why would you go to the trouble of designing a virtual Walmart that looks … exactly like a physical Walmart? Shopping in a real Walmart is fairly awful. If you’re in a 3D virtual world, maybe take advantage of the literally limitless possibilities to redesign the experience.

Don’t expect anything better as various moribund and existentially terrified organizations trot out their “metaverse applications.” They’re mostly going to be awful, in part out of a pure lack of imagination: Remember, for instance, when newspapers “got on the web” by posting what were essentially PDFs of their print pages?

More importantly, these efforts aren’t really for users in the first place – they’re meant to dazzle investors, especially those in their fifties and above looking for public market opportunities to extract profit from young people. That, of course, was the real point of Facebook’s own rebranding as “Meta,” so we can’t expect any better from the drooling dinosaurs who will inevitably fall into step behind Mark Zuckerberg’s Pied Piper routine.

VR wasn’t really part of that blockchain-centric discussion at all, but the discourse did help Facebook co-opt some blockchain clout with its VR rebrand. Facebook already tried this once, with the utter faceplant formerly known as Libra, a would-be “cryptocurrency” (whatever that might have actually meant coming from Zuckerberg) that was so stupidly conceived and poorly thought through that leader David Marcus seemed not just unprepared, but genuinely surprised when members of Congress pressed him on some really obvious problems with the idea.

If Facebook wins that conflict, we’ll have a repeat of exactly the same problem we see with Web 2.0 – if one company controls the backend infrastructure, particularly data-gathering, they face no competitive pressure to improve or innovate on the front-end experience. And have you visited Facebook.com lately? It’s at least as noisy, distracting, unpleasant and inconvenient as your average brick-and-mortar Walmart.

Facebook’s inept and allegedly deceptive handling of both social video and the Libra project should also be a deafening warning klaxon for companies currently pouring millions of dollars into “metaverse” projects. Facebook’s “Meta” rebrand is entirely self-interested, oriented towards selling a few headsets and bamboozling credulous investors. They certainly don’t give a damn about their users, and they don’t care much more about companies dependent on their platforms.

This content was originally published here.