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Virtual Zuck Fails To Connect (bbc.com) 141

Rory Cellan-Jones, writing for BBC: It must have seemed like a good idea. As a taster for a big announcement about Oculus VR on Wednesday, send Mark Zuckerberg on a little virtual reality trip, including a stop in Puerto Rico. But the reviews are in -- and they are not good. The sight of Mr Zuckerberg using VR to survey the devastation of an island still struggling to recover from Hurricane Maria may have been meant to convey Facebook's empathy with the victims. The fact that he was there in the form of a cartoon seemed to many the perfect visual metaphor for the gulf in understanding between Silicon Valley and the real world. Sure, he was talking about all the activities which his company had initiated to help the island, from helping people tell their families they were ok using Safety Check to sending Facebook employees to help restore connectivity. But cartoon Zuck showing us a 360 degree view of a flooded street before zipping back to a virtual California just seemed a little, well, crass. Is Facebook really concerned about the plight of Puerto Rico, or is it merely a handy backdrop to promote Oculus, whose sales have so far proved disappointing?
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Virtual Zuck Fails To Connect

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  • Did virtual Zuck get a chance to lob some?

    • No but he did lob virtual bundles of cash....
    • by Anonymous Coward

      You'd think that the whole tone-deaf episode with Trump with his paper towels, Zuckerberg would've learned a lesson.

      I find the fact that nobody at Facebook dared to point this out to him rather insightful. Silence does speak volumes.

      • You'd think that the whole tone-deaf episode with Trump with his paper towels, Zuckerberg would've learned a lesson.

        Of course not. Zuck knows he's so much a better person than Trump that he couldn't possibly be insensitive like Donald!

  • What did the announcement taste like?
  • by Anonymous Coward

    The real one saying they care about form over function is the author of the article. I hear no complaints about what Facebook is actually doing in Puerto Rico. In fact the article lists several things that sound quite helpful, even though Facebook is not a relief agency and has no charter to help at all. Yet this article complains about how Zuckerberg was rendered in a VR setting.

    I am sure the article author has done much more to help Puerto Rico than Zuckerberg has.

  • by networkBoy ( 774728 ) on Tuesday October 10, 2017 @01:30PM (#55344443) Journal

    The real cool part was lost because the message delivery felt like a PR stunt using devastation in PR.

    What this really is good for:
    Using Oculus like this is a way that professional relief planners and project managers can determine optimum load-out of emergency supplies before leaving the warehouse location, when it's much easier to add/remove/change the loadout on short notice.

    There's nothing quite like *seeing* the environment. back-pack street-view cameras on dirt bikes comes to mind...

    • by WrongMonkey ( 1027334 ) on Tuesday October 10, 2017 @03:08PM (#55345045)
      That is just doubling down on tech bubble naivete. Do you really think that disaster relief managers don't know how to assess damage? Do you think that goofing around on a VR headset is going to give better data than reports from professionals on site?
      • *Shhh* you might blow his fragile little mind.
      • No, I fully expect that they know a general rule of thumb for always needed supplies and such, but I was thinking more from the aspect that while they're gearing up to go, there can be less or unskilled people dropped in with the recording and Tx gear then the final loadout could be adjusted based on what's seen to be needed.

        Obviously I am not a member of an ERT that deals with such things, and I am blessed that my part of the world is relatively boring from a geologic and atmospheric perspective; but aside

        • by WrongMonkey ( 1027334 ) on Tuesday October 10, 2017 @03:53PM (#55345335)

          there can be less or unskilled people dropped in with the recording and Tx gear then the final loadout could be adjusted based on what's seen to be needed.

          Why would they do that when they already have trained and skilled professional to assess the damage and created detailed reports? Do you really think that multi-billion dollar relief operations are conducted based on some "general rule of thumb" without any onsite assessment? Just because you never leave your cubicle doesn't mean that other professions operate the same way.

          Obviously I am not a member of an ERT

          Obviously.

          what can tech do to compliment and assist?

          Maybe tech can ask that question before trying to shoe horn in their latest fad.

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by nospam007 ( 722110 ) *

            "Do you really think that multi-billion dollar relief operations are conducted based on some "general rule of thumb" without any onsite assessment? "

            In this Administration?

            You can bet your ass that I think that,

            • I think "general rule of thumb" is giving them far to much credit. Seems like "whatever seemed like a good idea to Donald at the moment" is more realistic.

      • by DarkOx ( 621550 )

        or satellite images, or traditional photos taken by people on the ground, or a panoramic shot taken with a smart phone that someone on the scene is sure to have.

        While Occulus like VR *might* be a good way to help someone like a politician appreciate a situation on an emotional level, its unlikely to provide an additional information useful in planning a response.

  • Motive aside, I like this.

    It is important that Congress connect to their constituents, see what they endure each day, talk with them, learn their problems, their needs. It's also important that Congress see the country as a whole, see the disasters which strike in remote locations, and the ones which make locations in the very heart of our nation remote by way of the sheer volume of destruction visited upon them.

    We need a reasoned, rational approach to all things; yet men only move at an imperative dr

    • by Anonymous Coward
      Man, the times I sat here at my computer after reading the news, angry at my Congressjerk.... The ability to give him a big, huge virtual middle finger would be one of the more satisfying technological improvements in my life right now. (Although the ability to toss virtual dildos at him would be pretty good too.)
      • In NZ we throw REAL sex toys at our politicians:

        http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/76604655/Steven-Joyce-hit-by-sex-toy-thrown-by-protester-at-Waitangi
  • by Shotgun ( 30919 ) on Tuesday October 10, 2017 @01:34PM (#55344471)

    Is Facebook really concerned about the plight of Puerto Rico

    I think we all have come to realize that the SJWs out there are really more concerned with signaling virtue more than actually solving problems.

    • You mean like spending 10 million on advertising budget to let the world know they donated 1 million on relief efforts?

    • I sent lots of Thoughts and Prayers and +1 Likes on the Facebooks. That had to count for something right?
      • I admit I didn't give a flying fuck.
        Reasons:
        - I can't provide meaningful help anyway, living on a different continent an ocean apart;
        - There are other things closer to me which need to be prioritized higher.
        - There seems to be more than enough people offering help there anyway.

        With that being said, I don't expect anyone from PR, US or wherever to give a flying fuck when my country is struck by disaster.

        • by gnick ( 1211984 )

          Reasons:
          - I can't provide meaningful help anyway, living on a different continent an ocean apart; ...

          "Can't" and "won't" aren't synonymous. The most meaningful way most of us can help is by donating to the relief funds. Don't pretend that the ocean is standing in your way. It's not. Believe it or not, most of the world has water between it and Puerto Rico. Big water. Ocean water.

          • It's not the ocean, it's the hundreds if not more issues closer to me which I could donate to.
            Last week we gathered money to help a neighbor whose daughter died - he didn't have enough money for the funeral. Puertoricans on the other side of the globe need to wait their turn.

            • by gnick ( 1211984 )

              I can't provide meaningful help anyway, living on a different continent an ocean apart

              It's not the ocean, it's the hundreds if not more issues closer to me which I could donate to.

              Now how did I get confused? Having different priorities than helping disaster-struck Americans is entirely valid. Saying that you "can't provide meaningful help" is nonsense. Of course there's an ocean in the way. It's Puerto Rico.

              • What I meant is "because of the distance" - meaning there are more important issues to attend to closer to home.

        • The only time people "care" is when the infrastructure and those affected look like them.

      • Your likes paid for that relief effort. Best thing since compounding interest.

  • by barc0001 ( 173002 ) on Tuesday October 10, 2017 @01:35PM (#55344485)

    He's become one of these people who live in a bubble surrounded by sycophants who blow smoke up his ass all day about how great and meaningful he and Facebook is to the world, despite the fact that if Facebook actually did disappear overnight the only real effect on the world is probably greater productivity and some unemployed Facebook workers who will be needing new jobs. And this guy is coyly hinting he might want to run for President. I personally believe he'd be just as bad as Trump for mainly similar reasons - both think they're the greatest thing since sliced bread. Though where Trump harms by malice, Zuck would harm by out of touch ignorance.

    • Don't sell him short, Zuckerberg would harm by malice too. He's a dual threat!
    • The way I see it, Trump's harm is a pretty even balance of bald-faced malice and sheer, blind ignorance.

      Zuck's harm would be mostly well-disguised malice with a sprinkling of out-of-touch ignorance.

      Over time, Zuck proves himself to be more and more like Mom from Futurama.

  • a guy who had the enormous luck to turn a side project from his dorm room into a multibillion dollar business before being old enough to rent a car without paying extra has a little trouble "connecting" to the average person.

    Some people have success and humility. Other people have success.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I'm still against the very idea of Trump being president, on the basis of, well him being completely unqualified to actually perform the actual duties. Or any actual duties at anything. He's basically a 'fake it until you can fake it" guy, with nothing underneath. I feel the exact same way about Reagan actually.

    For the same reason, I'm going to be against Zuckerburg being anywhere near the presidency. It's cool that he can craft an advertising/communication empire from his college facebook project - but

  • let me know when there's an oculus 'virtual boxing match' starring zuck. i imagine the lines would be pretty long to buy one of those goofy headsets if it meant you got to pummel the Hitler of privacy concerns.

  • Zuck and Oculus can suck my big hairy balls.
  • Understanding (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fluffernutter ( 1411889 ) on Tuesday October 10, 2017 @01:49PM (#55344577)
    I think it is fair to say that most technical leaders of our time don't really understand anything about people in general. Oh they know how to make a buck off of them, but beyond that they are very out of touch.
    • I think this is spot on.

      It's a natural human tendency to think that your life is more or less "normal" and your experience is shared with most people. It's almost never actually true, but it's very easy to think that way.

      The "tech leaders" live in a very rarefied world that bears almost no resemblance to the world of ordinary people, but they tend to think of themselves as "normal".

      I believe this is the source of quite a lot of the insane things that come out of SV/Seattle.

      • Yeah, whenever anyone with millions or billions of dollars has to tell you they are "just a normal guy" or offers anecdotes to persuade you to feel that way about them, then you know they are not.

    • actually, this tech leader (whom I don't like for a number of reasons) is doing something to help other people. In fact, he's done more than you have ever done to help other people. I think it's fair to say you just want to bitch about someone famous

      • "actually, this tech leader (whom I don't like for a number of reasons) is doing something to help other people."

        ...help Occulus and FB investors you mean?

      • All I said is that they don't understand people. The fact that they give money doesn't mean they understand people.
        • actually i'm pretty sure they got where they are by having a deeper understanding of people than typical slashdotter has

      • In fact, that is often a substitute FOR understanding people.
  • link (Score:4, Informative)

    by MagicM ( 85041 ) on Tuesday October 10, 2017 @01:53PM (#55344599)
    Here's a link to the video: https://www.facebook.com/zuck/videos/vb.4/10104094186863501/ [facebook.com]

    Also, none of the articles I looked at on this topic included a link to the video. What is it with "news" no longer linking to their sources? C'mon people!

    </getoffmylawn></rant>
    • That's on Facebook, so I can't see it.

  • by hey! ( 33014 ) on Tuesday October 10, 2017 @02:06PM (#55344703) Homepage Journal

    "Cartoon" and "Death Toll" should not be applicable to the same media presentation.

    I actually think the problem here wasn't actual insensitivity, but rather failure to anticipate a shortcoming of the avatar technology employed. Zuck's cartoon representation doesn't reproduce any emotional expression, just the kind of upbeat, non-Duchenne smile you get from a hotel receptionist greeting you as the 100th guest that morning. The jolly Zuck cartoon figure surveying scenes of horrific devastation gives the inescapable impression of sociopathy.

    • Wait a minute, considering who we're talking about, are you sure the avatar wasn't actually connected to an advanced facial motion capture system?

  • You've been stealing from Me. I know it.
  • by Matheus ( 586080 ) on Tuesday October 10, 2017 @02:23PM (#55344785) Homepage

    Was the video a bit in poor taste? sure. Should they have had a more serious demeanor when showing people's loss? probably. Especially the Rachel character.. Zuck had a much better demeanor IMHO she sounded more like she was marketing making sure they kept talking about the VR.

    All that being said: The efforts they highlighted are real efforts that are working towards real results in helping the people of Puerto Rico. I'll give them a lot of leeway when it comes to squeezing a bit of PR out of PR when the the efforts are more than just fluff. I only hope some of that generosity is going to the USVI and other island nations as well as they are in as bad or worse shape and now out of the spotlight since Puerto Rico is a more visible aide target.

  • by grasshoppa ( 657393 ) <skennedy@tpno - c o . o rg> on Tuesday October 10, 2017 @03:03PM (#55345017) Homepage

    ...that zero zucks were given.

    I'll show myself out.

"So why don't you make like a tree, and get outta here." -- Biff in "Back to the Future"

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