On the next internet of no consequences

November 12, 2019 ☼ ARapple

The rumors that Apple might (will?) release AR glasses in some near future is reverberating through the net. The only useful purpose of releasing that kind of information to the echo chamber is to entertain the boys at Wall Street. It’s more about structuring a specific market narrative and less about the actual product itself.

AR, of course, isn’t exactly a new narrative, but it is one that is becoming increasingly sustainable. As a narrative, not as a product. The later still needs to be seen. Remember the bold industry move into 3D TV glasses?

The problem that I see is not that it will not succeed, but that it will. Here’s Steve Cheney on AR from his On the Internet’s Next Act essay.

Svelte, stylish, unnoticeably tech, and capable of delivering a new reality based on what is around you. Today, we are bound by a 6″ screen. Tomorrow, the internet will be all around us, absorbed visually — and invisibly — in ways that make smartphones seem like a camcorder of times past.

Predictions, of course, are tricky unless you are a middle-aged white man. Meaning: too seldom, we tend to re-read what people like Steve posted a long time ago. But predictions from people like Steve are not about the accuracy of detail. They are about the homogeneity of ideas. A lot of people have and will read this. This world will undoubtedly entice them that he is describing and will attempt to become part of this future.

And they will not question whether or not this future is one that we should be wanting. I don’t doubt that many people will like those glasses. I might even be one of those people. And I don’t doubt that it’s an attractive, maybe even very profitable market. But the technology that we have built, so far, on top of the internet wasn’t always to our benefit. We know this already, we are experiencing it every day both in our private, business, and political life. In 2018, I wrote this:

Especially in an increasingly polarized world that consists of co-existing filter bubbles in which we occupy the same physical space, but often enough not the same cognitive state, it is the ability to understand what narratives are desired and how to construct an operating model to protrude.

If you take that into account and compare what Steve is writing about the inevitability of those devices, I do ask you: is it worth it?