The innovation Winter

I happened to read, in the fediverse, a discussion regarding a change in Mastodon's GUI, which relates to the enrollment mechanism. In and of itself, this is a very small change, not involving or requiring major changes in thinking.

Well, the discussion instead consisted of the fact that people are not "used " thinking  "instance"-wise,  that they are not used  thinking about "federated space"-like things,  and that "yes, innovation is fine, but you can't expect people coming from Twitter to have to understand something so new". 

By itself, this mindset seems paramount today, we hear it every time we ask any random person to use a new technology. 

But this mindset is not "normal": not at all.

Internet is the world of technology, remember? It's the world where a new successful company comes along and disrupts everything. It's the world where innovation is "disruptive," remember?

So why do we hear the same things we would hear if we decided that as of tomorrow bread is banned?

Although innovation has been celebrated in all possible ways, in all possible sauces and with great pomp, the last 15 years have been the years when a circle of "fat belly" companies stopped innovation.

Go back 15 years and you will find GAFAM and their services. Go to today, and you will find GAFAM and their services. 

We have experienced a long winter of innovation.

For those of us who come from a world where FriendFeed born and die in a few years, for those who have seen Usenet killed by google groups, for those who have seen yahoo, Lycos, and the whole internet landscape disappear, the changes of the last 15 years are irrelevant. 

For those who were used to seeing Nokia and Ericsson shoot out a new cell phone model with a shape never seen before, and new features, the monotony of Apple/Android appears close to the thermal death of the universe. To me, seeing the articles in the newspapers "the new iPhone's new features" makes me laugh: it seems like when your wife arrives, asks you if you haven't noticed anything new about her, and when you struggle to figure out what she has changed, she says, "I brushed my teeth and you haven't noticed anything!". You monster.

New cell phone models are so similar to old ones that Apple risks suing ITSELF for Copyright Infringement  each time the brand new model is almost identical to the old one. For those used to sound 47 SMS-based VAS services, the fact that telcos now offer only IP, VoIP, IPTV, is as boring, dusty, and stale as the new Lucretia Borgia porn movie. The one where her bones lie motionless in the grave, in the dark. (plot doesn't matter in porn anyway, right?).

Facebook began as a web interface for a BBS, and it remains a web interface for a BBS. Twitter was a web interface for IRC, and remains a web interface for IRC. Gmail is the IT equivalent of the Egyptian sphinx. Instagram is the evolution of image-boards. Whats app is the evolution of AIM. 

The rest can be found here:

Look, in the last part about Google's changes, at the incredible new things that have happened. 

Had you ever noticed?

Disruptive, isn't it?


Before I talk about the effects on the population, I would like to point out HOW this all happened. 

The companies you call "GAFAM" are seen as the top of the top of IT. As a result, you would think that inside there are people who live immersed in virtual reality, wear bionic exoskeletons, have their nervous systems interconnected with some fibre optic network, perpetually wear white coats over their exoskeletons (but some scholars claim that white coats ARE kinda exoskeletons), and live in an organisation so agile and futuristic that decisions are made even before they are made.

Good. Nothing could be more wrong. 

We're talking about huge companies that are so bureaucratised that they have rules even for "what's the first thing you say in a chat with a colleague," or "how to format chat so you create fewer notifications." people don't walk around in exoskeletons but in rather smelly T-shirts because they've been working overtime and without a life you can't do your laundry, they don't wear white coats because the Tikka Masala they eat-to the enormous delight of their sense of smell-would quickly turn them into a costume for the Brazilian carnival. Managers and technicians are distinguished from each other by their uniforms and excess pounds, most meetings are pointless and inefficient, and Dilbert is studied as a "blueprint for corporate efficiency."

Technologically, they're almost all working with tools from the early 2000s, doing things the way they did in 2000, arguing for hours and hours about what to name the variables, unless the company in its supreme agility has created a web page somewhere that tells how to name the variables, a page that is no longer valid because a new page has arrived. Sadly, the new page  is on a new documentation system that half the people can't access, but you only have to email the sysadmin... to be told that he no longer works there and that for every problem you have to go to a guy who does something else, has no idea what you're talking about, and doesn't understand why you're calling the corporate laundry to access a documentation system.

(For that matter, the previous sysadmin did not do any handover, but claim to do so by naming the laundry manager as his replacement. Who the heck knows that Malik Patel is not the same person as Patel Malik, after all?)

Especially because (as evidenced by the stench of the T-shirts) only "females" in the company know that there is a company laundry, and to make matters worse, those who work there change genders and pronouns every 7 seconds. More or less 7 seconds: 'cause besides not being binary, the guy it's also not deterministic. And he's very interested in an identity in the body of quaternions, to facilitate interaction with {he, j-her, k-they, i-them}.

Of course, the bureaucratic mentality is so pronounced that the first LONG part of EVERY project is to choose the convention mames of variables and the strategy with which to use the git command: the exception is google, which uses a monolithic repository that Borland would have been proud of in 1993, and can't put more than 3 people in the same room because you'd need a psychiatrist trained in autism to get anything intelligible. But they still have meetings, and in the MoM, the minute of meeting, there is always the same thing: "/dev/buzzword/urandom."

As for agile decision-making, in these companies managers are almost always a clan of Indians , using processes dating back to the third century B.C., and before making a decision they must know to which caste the impacted departments belong. Kings and Brahmins, of course, come before warriors and technicians, in keeping with Hindu tradition. The sworn guards at the reception are very pissed off about this. But they are Vedic warriors, and often vegans, so it's normal.

Perhaps you think I am exaggerating. Well, no. I work with people who have escaped from there, and the stories are always the same: the pay was great, but an attendance meeting could prove fatal to people who are not from Calcutta, and the reason there is no virtual reality with smells is that in their case it would be real chemical warfare.

I want to open a parenthesis about the "layoffs" that all the newspapers are quacking about: the average turnover in those companies is around two years for technicians and people who are clinically still alive. Maybe two years and a half.

So I get to paraphrase Marchionne (former Chrysler CEO): "but... laid off from what, exactly?"

The only ones who have been there for  a dozen years, as the newspapers say, are there because they are DEAD , but their T-shirts approximated the stench of the corpse very well, and people thought they were mummified at their work overtime.

After all, their role in the company was a cluster of random words ending with "manager" (e.g., "potato nihilism concrete evolution manager"), so everyone was afraid to knock on their room, and the company fired them when they realised that maybe they didn't need two "fountain calf piston paint manager."

In short: the fired people you talk about did not go to a therapist to get over the shock of being fired. More likely they went to the coroner and ask for a grave.

I repeat: I am not exaggerating, on the contrary: I am very diplomatic. I know of a GAFAM where someone held meetings strictly on the top floor, because they were in fact ... swingers' parties. And even more: it was known to everyone in the company that some of the meeting rooms on the top floor, after dark, were de facto darkrooms, to the point that there were emails going around saying that due to the visit of <A VIP> the rooms on the top floor would not be available to the reservation system.

Under these conditions, GAFAM cannot produce innovation, being too mammoth and inefficient and political to do so. At best they buy innovation, like Microsoft buying OpenAI, for the simple reason that 15 years of "Microsoft research" on AI has produced (at best) a chat bot that will crash if you ask it hard questions, like "which time is it?"


I know the market geeks will say "but now that Google and Microsoft are in direct competition, we're going to see some great things." Aha. Like saying that if we hold a hippo race, we will see gazelles on the track. 

No. We will see a myriad of AI startups, struggling to get noticed and funded, only to be bought by a GAFAM, and become the usual "absurdonoia" : the situation where GAFAM pay bloggers to write a full page on the imaginary new features of the new iPhone. The good news is that thanks to ChatGPT, soon they'll be no longer paying bloggers. 

By the way, did you know that the new Microsoft office will contain new features, in a menu you will never find unless you are told how, that facilitate the use of Business Intelligence systems in Tibetan language, which as many as 12 people in the world use? No? Eh, you don't follow innovation, you Jurassic lazy punk.

There's going to be a race to innovation of AI, but because Fat-Belly (AKA GAFAM, or GAMAM, if you believe Meta) is involved , it's going to look a lot like a hippo context:


Because, I repeat to the fanatics of the "Almighty Market", competition does not turn a hippo into a gazelle. Competition among hippos simply produces monopolistic hippos, who kill gazelles with their weight, to prevent being overtaken.

That said, let us go to the EFFECTS on the population of this winter of innovation. What is the effect of living in a world that is immobile or repetitive, with no real alternatives, that has now developed its own jargon and an ecosystem that has not evolved in years?

The effect of this is to have an audience that:

1) They expect everything for free and without effort. The idea of the fediverse , of someone deciding whether you can have an account in their instance, is a shock to them.

2) They expect you to want to have them as users. The idea that you want good users, that is, to be judged, is alien to them.
they view social as immutable, if not ETERNAL places The most insignificant icon change is read politically, with clashes between conservatives and progressives, and those who say "it's just a fucking icon" are silenced as "shitty centrists." Let alone "learning a new concept": to paraphrase D'Alema (Italian most useless politician), "a risky leap forward that the country is not yet ready for."

3) consider social networks as institutions and the Internet as public space. The idea that they might suddenly shut down, or give a shit about those who don't understand change, is discussed in terms of FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS. 

If you tell those who have chosen a career as an "influencer" that there was a time when Instagram or Youtube didn't last five years, they look at you with a lost look: are you saying I've chosen a dead-end path?

Just as if you tell the "assorted whores of OnlyFans" (oh, sorry , they prefer "content creators: still whores) that it could happen (if the IRS catches on to OnlyFans) that the whole merry slut circus could shut down at any time: "hey, I quit my job to follow my dreams and live off thongs, what do you mean it all ends?" . Just as many will understand that if they don't make ends meet, the solution is not to round up on onlyfans, but to join a decent union or look for a better job.

All these economic phenomena have arisen, precisely, because certain companies/technologies are seen as stable, immutable, to the point that you can bet your future life on them , making "jobs" out of them. Shall we talk about cryptocurrencies, and all the fools who think they can live on them , as if it were a real job?

What people don't understand is that this long winter of innovation can't last forever, it's not an 'ice age. Historically, IT has always been the place of mutations, inventions, innovations, AND EXTINCTIONS. 

If it scares you to have to choose an instance to log onto a social whose interface on a mobile phone is IDENTICAL to any other social network, if you can't learn the concept (or word) of "instance," well, by the end of winter you will be extinct, as Yahoo, Lycos, Altavista , and others are extinct.

Within a couple of years all central banks will have their own digital currency. And the crypto world will appear for what it has been reduced to being: a casino disguised as fintech. And the party will be over.

Within a few years some country's IRS will take notice of OnlyFans and company: and the whore company will somehow have to come up with something else, because that financial model is sustainable ONLY if it pays no taxes. Since you whores are not employees, in most of  the west you will have to open a tax account. Best wishes, young ladies, especially those who round up a job as an employee.

The idea that this winter of innovation can or should last indefinitely, is affected by many possible changes:

1 ) the possible emergence of foreign players, see TikTok
2) the possible action of government entities, see digital currencies.
3) the possible regulator awakening, see France introducing a public state owned "DIGITAL-ID" for porn sites.
4) ...
5) whatever

this winter has been long, but it's ending. There are already new things on the horizon. AI, federated systems of all kinds, and much more is coming. GAFAMs, in the absence of free money from central banks, will not be able to buy ALL new companies.

The paradigm of the 73-year-old grandma who cannot register for a fediverse instance because she is seventy-three, paradigm which has now infected people who are 37, if not 17, is going to produce a lot of people who are going to be "fired from the Internet."

To paraphrase Marchionne (former Crysler CEO): but ...fired from what, exactly?

Mah. Have you tried looking up the answer on Altavista? You don't know what it was?

Okay, then you might look it up on sgnafuz, the progressive metasocial that, a year into its existence, has already put Youtube and Twitch out of business and is also worrying Tiktok