Google had their big I/O conference today (link) – a lot of the details have been getting leaked over the last few weeks but there wasn’t much announced but this may change once there is the Wear developer session is made available. The information that was announced was pretty much an acknowledgement that Samsung’s attempt to ‘go it alone’ has yielded next to no third party support (same can be said for Fitbit) so it makes sense that we’re seeing a merging of the best features so that rather than having three weak platforms trying to take on watchOS, there is one strong platform that does the job. From what I can ascertain from presentation is that Wear has been given an overhaul in terms of optimisation to work more efficiently work on low end SoCs, there will be features that Samsung has built on Tizen that’ll be adopted and I’d say that Fitbit will eventually become an app that runs on the phone alongside other apps – I wouldn’t be surprised if in the long term we end up seeing Wear being adopted by Fitbit (which was announced at the keynote) – there is the potential to offer paid for services for Fitbit customers.
When it comes to Android 12 – the new UI is very much inspired by the OneUI from Samsung, I think Google is quickly realising that they’ll never match the reach that Samsung has around the world so it is best that they work with the largest Android vendor – particularly when you look at the work being done with Wear. What I thought was rather interesting was the interview with the platform lead (in ‘The Verge’ video – first link in the first paragraph) was the question raised regarding privacy and whether Google would adopt what Apple has adopted in their own platform. The interviewee was tight lipped although he did cover the work being done on Chrome, FLoC along with technology but what was telling is there being a split between what the platform group would like to do (my impression is that they would like to adopt the stance Apple took) vs. the rest of the organisation whose business model is in part dependent upon ad revenue to pay for the services they deliver free. What will be interesting is seeing what happens when it comes to the proposed privacy laws (link) (link) which will ultimately force the hand of Google and others to change their business model.
For me, everything came unstuck the moment when people started demanding things for free or incredibly low cost without first asking ‘at what cost’. We have a decline of traditional print media and a reluctance for people willing to pay for content – just because it is on the internet and the product is virtual doesn’t magically make it free to deliver, there are real people working behind the scenes researching and working contacts to get information, and all of that costs money. Sure, YouTube provides a platform to provide commentary but that talking-head’s information has to be sourced from somewhere and more often than not it is sourced from traditional print media. So what happens? the quality of the media drops as clickbait heads get the eyes then the clicks to then fund the business and down the spiral it goes.
When it comes to the likes of social media, an over dependence on advertising results in the sort of out of control data mining – you get the data to create the profiles to then allow higher prices of advertising because you promise to deliver pin point accuracy of those interested in ones product. A social networking product that might have gotten away with zero ads and a privacy respecting policy if users were happy to pay US$12.99 per month insteads goes down alleyways that even their own employees have ethical questions about. Again, this is the high price of wanting something for free. Don’t get me wrong, it makes sense to maybe have a freemium version where you get a limited version with ad support but the focus should be always moving those users to full paying members rather than promising them more while trying to make out that it doesn’t come at a cost of their privacy or at the cost of social cohesion within countries that have been negatively. impacted by the impact of social media.
How does this relate to privacy? if the outrage expressed by some is genuine then there needs to be a willingness to start demanding ad free privacy respecting services and buy them combined with demanding strong privacy protection legislation – possibly creating regulatory compacts (such as what I suggested on my twitter feed a while ago) given that Facebook has ignored New Zealand’s privacy commission because there are no consequences given the lack of leverage New Zealand has over Facebook. One option is maybe proposing a compact with the European Union to piggy back on the existing GDPR laws (I’m sure other smaller countries would be happy to join up) which would strengthen the EU regulatory muscle because of the larger market it would regulate “so you’re going to pull out of a market this large with this many consumers?” is the question posed to such organisations – 9/10 they’ll suck it up, stay and follow the rules.
Such a change in thinking would also hopefully result in a revival of quality journalism – if you’re tired of clickbait headlines and opinion pieces swamping newspapers online then make it worth their while to produce quality journalism by supporting those that do – either through a subscription or support via Patreon. The move to advertisement supported content and services creates the very sort of unhealthy culture that not only results in data mining but it also encourages making people consume more and more through amplifying content that has a negative impact not only on the end user but wider society, creates a pipe line to more and more extreme content, along with manipulation through algorithms and use of reward/punishment that excite the brain to keep consuming more.
The question is whether the general public is willing to break that cycle. Social media isn’t bad as a concept, what is bad is how it is funded, how the business model is sustained which lends itself to amplifying the worst in human nature. These platforms are tools and they have to generate income to keep the lights on – let’s hope that like like the emergence of music subscriptions, movie subscriptions and software subscriptions (to name a few) that it is a matter of people getting used to it rather than a resistance to paying for things.