Mark Zuckerberg is investing heavy in what they refer to as “the metaverse.” Of course, the metaverse is not something built by a brand but an emergent sociopolitical phenomenon, but that’s beside the point. Zuckerberg has a thesis which is something like… the fidelity of the user experience is the killer feature in the growth of the metaverse. Zuck wants to own the hardware layer — he’s tired of Apple applying their leverage.
This makes sense to me, and I think fidelity is important, and from the vantage point of Facebook (now Meta) I agree it’s probably the most important thing. But, it’s not the killer feature for the next generation of social media.
Here’s the useful way to think about what social media actually is. Social media is the product which brings the power of digital technologies to the masses. Social media is not defined tweets or Facebook posts or YouTube videos or TikTok shorts. Social media is defined by “bringing software to the masses.” Think about it. Software has been around and accessible to the masses since the 1970’s, but it wasn’t until Facebook whereafter your grandmother found herself learning how to use digital technologies. Facebook was the incentive for the masses to adopt digital technologies, which required them to learn new skillsets. Prior to Facebook the process of answering emails was like a chore for your grandmother, but after Facebook your grandmother was commenting on Facebook posts in her bed just before sleep.
Social media is the thing that brings the power of software to the masses.
The killer feature for the next generation of social media is constructive social coordination.
The biggest problem with social media today is the negative connotation attached to it. People routinely comment on Twitter as if it’s a hellscape of a virtual world where monkey’s are flinging shit at one another. And, that’s accurate (some of the time). What we need is a social media solution which people genuinely appreciate and respect as a positive force for the quality of life of humans. A social media experience which is healthy.
So anyways, I have more thoughts on how such an experience can be solved but I’ll only briefly mention two things. First, artificial intelligence plays a role here. AI is an extremely powerful force (a “force multiplier”) for humans, but it is not currently adopted by the masses — remember what social media actually is, the thing which brings the power of software to the masses. Second, digital ownership plays a role here. A lot of the ethos from the Bitcoin community is relevant here. Ownership is a useful social coordination tool which can be deployed to create powerful incentive systems.
I think also, you have to take the capitalism out of the solution. I know, I know, what heresy to say! But, in order to achieve such a system, you have to have a Satoshi-like solution, wherein the founders aren’t tech bro billionaires. There’s an attack vector with the Mark Zuckerberg’s of the world which the public will always take advantage of. Instead, think of it like you think of public interstate highway systems — which of course, you don’t ever think about and that’s the point. You take it for granted because it just works (usually). The solution has to be boring and out of the headlines. Investor fixation on juicing more and more yield from advertising dollars… just not gonna make it in this world.
Basically, I think a lot of the political chaos in the world is only just getting started, and in the coming 10-15 years it’s going to get worse, and I think software is our friend here.
Okay that’s that. Fidelity is important Zuck, but not as important as human emotion.