There's a joke * They are again divided into chat apps that take the form of a multiple choice question. Ask yourself who is the leading force in digital transformation in the workplace. The red bordered punch line is not the CEO or CTO, but: C) COVID-19.
There's probably more than a grain of truth to back up the joke. The new type of corona virus is pressing many metaphorical buttons. "Pause" buttons for people and industries, as large parts of the world's population are in quarantine conditions that can resemble house arrest. Most offline social and economic activities are suddenly banned.
Such important breaks in our modern lifestyle can even lead to a complete reset over time. The world as it was, in which the mobility of people – regardless of the environmental costs for so much commuting and wanderlust – is almost a matter of course may never return to "business as usual".
If global leadership does justice to the occasion, the coronavirus crisis will provide an opportunity to rethink the way our societies and economies are structured, and shift to lower carbon alternatives. How many physical meetings do you really need when digital connectivity is accessible and reliable? When millions of office workers log on to their day job from home, the number suddenly appears to be negligible.
COVID-19 clearly strengthens the argument that broadband should be a utility because there are so many more activities online. Even social media seem to have a real community purpose in a moment of national crisis, where many people can only connect from afar, even with their closest neighbors.
Therefore, reports of people stuck at home flock back to Facebook to sound in the digital city square. Now that the main street is closed, the old social network is experiencing a late second wind.
Facebook understand this kind of higher social purpose, of course. This is why it has been so proactive to create features that cause users to mark themselves as "safe" in exceptional events such as natural disasters, serious accidents and terrorist attacks. (Or why it encouraged politicians to go to bed with their data platform at all – regardless of the cost of democracy.)
In less difficult times, the "purpose" of Facebook can be loosely summarized with "killing time". But with more and more sinkholes being drilled by the attention economy, this is a function that is under violent and persistent attacks.
Over the years, the technology giant has responded with technical methods to get back to the top of the social heap – including spying on and buying up competition or directly cloning competing products. It has been pulling this trick through hooks or crooks for over a decade. This time, however, Facebook cannot credit the increase in traffic. A pandemic is nature's dark pattern.
The most interesting thing about this virally disturbed moment is how much of the digital technology that has been developed online in the past two decades could very well be designed to survive such a dystopia.
Seen through this lens, VR should have a big moment. A facial computer that exchanges the things your eyes can actually see with a digital adventure from virtual worlds that you can easily explore from your living room? What problem are you fixing, VR? Well, the conceptual limits of human blocking in the face of a pandemic quarantine at the moment, actually …
Virtual reality has never been a compelling thing compared to the rich and structured possibilities of real life, except within very narrow and niche boundaries. But suddenly we are all here – with drastically narrowed horizons and real news that are constantly shattering. So there could still be an ironic punch line for another multiple choice joke: "My next vacation will be: A) stay, B) the guest room, C) VR escape."
However, it is video conferencing that actually has the big moment. It turns out that even a pandemic cannot make VR viral. Instead, longstanding friendships are revived via zoom group chats or Google Hangouts. And houseparty – a video chat app – saw increasing downloads as Barflies used their usual waterholes to look for an alternative nightlife.
Bored celebrities are TikToking. Impromptu concerts are broadcast live from the living rooms via Instagram and Facebook Live. All types of people cope with social distancing and the stress of being stuck alone (or with the family) at home by socializing in the distance: registering at distant book clubs and discos; Participation in virtual dance parties and practice sessions from the bedrooms; take a couple of hours together; The quiet pub night with friends has seamlessly transformed into a group video chat to take away.
This is not normal – but not surprising either. We live in the most extraordinary time. And it seems to be a very human reaction to mass disturbances and physical separation (not to mention the trauma of a sustained public health emergency that kills thousands of people every day), even after a moving pixel of human comfort to grab. Contactless human contact is better than none.
The fact that all of these tools are already available and waiting for us to log in and start streaming should dehumanize the backbone of society.
It clearly underlines how much consumer technology is being developed to reprogram the way we connect individually and in groups so that uninvited third parties can make a profit.
Before COVID-19, the ability to retain users and promote passive feed consumption was a central concern of social media. They replaced real human contact with a voyeuristic review of friends' lives. Studies have linked the technology to loneliness and depression. Now that we are literally unable to meet friends, the loss of human contact is real and strong. So being popular online in a pandemic is not a measure of success.
Houseparty, for example, describes itself as a "personal social network" – and yet it is exactly the opposite. You forego personal contact if you come together virtually in the form of an app.
The consequence of Facebook's COVID-19 traffic is that the company's business model lives from social disruption and general misery. Which we honestly already knew. Data-driven adtech is another way of saying that it was designed to spray you with advertising dissatisfaction by spying on what you're doing. The corona virus just pounds the point home.
The fact that we have so many high-tech digital connectivity tools at hand could feel like an astonishing coincidence in this crisis – a freemium bonanza for dealing with terrible global traumas. But such a premium points to a terrible downside: it's the attention economy that is contagious and insidious. Before "normal life" fell off a cliff, all of this sticky technology was called "everyday use." not "break out in a global emergency".
It has never been clearer how these eye-catching apps and services should bother and monetize us. embedding ourselves in our friendships and relationships through subtle dehumanization; Redirect emotions and connections; They are intended to encourage us to exchange personal conviviality for virtualized fuzz, which are to be broken down and monetized by the same middlemen who have entered our private and social life without being asked.
In this way captured and recompiled, the human connection is reduced to a series of watered down and / or meaningless transactions. The platforms on which armies are used by engineers to maximize advertising opportunities, regardless of personal costs.
It's also no coincidence that more of the massive and intrusive foundations of surveillance capitalism are emerging as the COVID 19 emergency pushes back some of the veil that was used to protect these business models from the mainstream in more normal times. The persecutors hurry to seize and colonize an opportunistic purpose.
Technicians and advertising giants fall over themselves to offer data or apps for COVID-19 tracking. They're already in mass surveillance, so there's probably never a better time than the current big data lobby pandemic to spread the lie that individuals don't care about privacy as governments look for tools and resources help help save lives.
Initially, the people tracking platforms disguised attacks on human actions as “relevant ads”. Now the data industry complex is spinning mass surveillance on police states as a pandemic-destructive corporate social responsibility. How fast the wheel turns.
But platforms should be careful about what they want. Residents of the population who are under house arrest and play snitch with their cell phones may be on high-tech prisoners as quickly as they signed up for friendly video chat in these strange and unprecedented times.
Every day there is a new zoom horror story about data protection and security. Why suddenly now?
It's simple: the problems are not new, but suddenly everyone is forced to use zoom. That means more people discover problems and more frustration because signing out is not an option. https://t.co/O9h8SHerok
– Arvind Narayanan (@random_walker), March 31, 2020
* Source is a private Twitter account called @MBA_ish