I find it frustrating that nearly all the controversy over the oculus acquisition by facebook is focused on:
- Good games coming out
- Facebook rebranding Oculus
- Ads in the experience
These are superficial problems, firstly. but furthermore, they may not even be problems because 1) developers will still make things for this incredible technology, 2) Facebook never re-brands companies they acquire, 3) Facebook is smarter than to put ads directly in there. there is more value to them in a captive audience.
These pale in comparison to MUCH LARGER issues brought up by the acquisition:
- Data-mining virtual reality
- The creation of an information monopoly
- The nature of good ideas
These are BIG problems because 1) between head & iris tracking, in-game data, and facebook’s incredible systems there will be a plethora of information to mine. It is also much easier to mine data in a reality that’s completely coded. Facebook will know where you’re looking, what you’re doing, and how long you do it. this is everything they wish they could gather in the real world, but when they cross-reference that with all the other information they already have, suddenly there is one company with a lot of control. this brings us to problem 2) a juggernaut of your personal information. 3) The deepest issue I find here stems from the way business is done in technology today: companies exist and operate only to get acquired. Instead of Oculus being their own specialized operation, we now have a massive cultural force whose energy is being funneled (along with many others) to a singular entity. The internet emerged a model of social capitalism where niche businesses can operate and grow naturally with a set audience. It may be a personal grievance, but the all-to-the-top approach this represents sits poorly with me. Cultural evolution is the most important thing in the age of information, good ideas can and should change paradigms. It is deeply upsetting to watch independently operating forces that create life-changing innovations get sucked into the old system just as they reach potential to break a standard model.
The promise of Oculus was the concept of unity through shared experience- shared escape to virtual worlds that we can explore, as we explore ourselves and each other. In Facebook’s vision of Oculus there is no escape – you won’t be reminded of that of course, but no matter how much fun you have or how deep your experience, you will always be under their eye, sliding together down one giant funnel of information.