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Back October 24th, 2019 Forward
On Facebook, Originality, and Billionaires

Inspired by: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/oct/21/mark-zuckerberg-plea-biillionaire-class-anti-democratic

Mr Zuckerberg says without allowing people to become billionaires, we won't see "innovations" and "original products" like Facebook. So, let's have a look at just how "innovative" or "original" his product is, shall we?

The original idea Mr Zuckerberg was exploiting (the "face book") was not his own - his main "innovation", if it can be called that, was transforming it from a print format limited to simply one university campus to an online database version, able to be diversified to many. Facebook (the website) came about because Harvard University created a "face book" for its first year students - a book of photographs of the first year students containing basic information such as names and majors, distributed to the first years, as a way of facilitating making contacts when one first arrived at university (rather than doing this the old-fashioned, plebian way by, for example, asking questions of classmates and dorm mates such as "hi, what's your name?"). Speaking as someone who was there in the 1990s when this was happening to a lot of things, the transformation of something in the real world to an online database was not necessarily an innovative idea - or if it was, it was an "innovation" which occurred to a vast number of different people all at the same time. Basically, a lot of people were figuring out how to use relational databases to create neat web content in the mid to late 1990s - Facebook was just one of the players.

In format, Facebook is largely a web 2.0 version of an old web 1.0 "portal" site - which means it wasn't particularly original or novel even when it first appeared. The main difference between Facebook and the old Netscape Navigator or AOL web portals is Facebook scrapes one heck of a lot more data out of your account, in order to be able to sell you better targeted advertising and make Mr Zuckerberg more money. The site has not added anything either new or particularly innovative to its framework in years. The only real distinguishing feature of the corporate entity's business practices is a tactic of "embrace and extend" ... a tactic which was pioneered by Microsoft in the 1980s.

So yeah, Mr Zuckerberg. Let's have a talk about "innovation", shall we? Starting with what it means, and how your company doesn't actually do any.

(Mark Zuckerberg did the equivalent of winning the lottery, and deep down he knows it. It's why he's so insistent on telling this story, the one where he "deserves" every penny he can get his mitts on. It's why he doesn't want to have to pay more in tax, why he doesn't want the company broken up by a monopolies investigation, why he's willing to conspire with as many people as possible in order to ensure the status quo doesn't alter. He knows he won the lottery, and the odds against him winning it the same way twice are phenomenal. He knows he can't recreate his success if it gets taken away from him, because his success, such as it is, is based on pure, dumb luck.)

This entry was originally posted at https://megpie71.dreamwidth.org/135533.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

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Back October 24th, 2019 Forward