Macil's recent activity

  1. Comment on Does Rust belong in the Linux kernel? in ~comp

    Macil
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    Link
    This quote is so funny to me. There are possibly some unspecified parts of Linux somewhere that are well-designed enough to not face memory safety issues? The idea that it's hard to name them and...

    I will offer this quote from an unnamed kernel hacker, though:

    There are possibly some well-designed and written parts which have not suffered a memory safety issue in many years. It’s insulting to present this as an improvement over what was achieved by those doing all this hard work.

    This quote is so funny to me. There are possibly some unspecified parts of Linux somewhere that are well-designed enough to not face memory safety issues? The idea that it's hard to name them and that it took hard work is a big part of the problem. It doesn't take hard work to keep Rust code memory safe or to check if it is. New parts of the codebase can skip this hard work if they're written in Rust. It's also much easier to check if future changes to Rust code are safe than to check future changes to C code.

    And then it's funny that this is all the text the article spends on talking about memory safety, and instead the article veers off into criticizing Rust's trendiness. He tries to paint Rust as a totally arbitrary language choice and fashion.

    Programmers are very used to seeing debates about which programming languages are better than others, and I think some have mislearned the answer as that all languages (or all languages within a given category, like statically-typed languages without garbage collection) are equally good, only differ in arbitrary shallow ways (like which IDE and libraries you can use with it), and that people who care about the difference are just trying to impose their fashion on others. There are many languages that differ in relatively shallow ways (Java and C#; Python, Ruby, and arguably Javascript), but Rust genuinely brings important stuff to the table that other languages within its category (statically-typed languages without garbage collection: C, C++, etc) don't.

    12 votes
  2. Comment on What is a good "eternal" Linux distribution? in ~tech

    Macil
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    Link Parent
    Ubuntu 22.04's standard support ends in 2027, though its full end of life of support isn't until 2032. I've got a somewhat neglected desktop still on Ubuntu 16.04 and it still gets browser updates...

    Ubuntu 22.04's standard support ends in 2027, though its full end of life of support isn't until 2032. I've got a somewhat neglected desktop still on Ubuntu 16.04 and it still gets browser updates among a few other things, apparently until 2026. If you're not running a bunch of internet-exposed server software or regularly installing new programs that might depend on newer libraries, at least having an updated browser is probably good enough.

    1 vote
  3. Comment on Defective altruism - the repugnant philosophy of “Effective Altruism” offers nothing to movements for global justice in ~humanities

    Macil
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    Link
    A good chunk of this article could be summarized as "EA encourages capitalist-friendly liberals trying to work within the system to improve the world instead of changing the system like...
    • Exemplary

    A good chunk of this article could be summarized as "EA encourages capitalist-friendly liberals trying to work within the system to improve the world instead of changing the system like socialists", except that probably defangs it much more than the author wants it to be.

    I'm not personally the biggest fan of EA's almost strict focus on existential threats, but I like knowing there is at least one organization dedicated to that. It seems like the sort of thing that a healthy civilization would devote some fraction of its effort to. I'm also glad that EA is not the only social movement trying to improve the world; there's no social movement I'm absolutely sure of the principles or effectiveness of.

    In the past, I’ve talked to people who think that while some of Effective Altruism is kooky, at least EAs are sincerely committed to improving the world, and that’s a good thing. But I’m afraid I don’t agree. Good intentions count for very little in my mind. Lots of people who commit evil may have “good intentions”—perhaps Lyndon Johnson really wanted to save the world from Communism in waging the criminal Vietnam war, and perhaps Vladimir Putin really thought he was invading Ukraine to save Russia’s neighbor from Nazis.

    So what exactly is the evil that EA is doing? Donating too much to AI safety research and malaria nets? Failing to be part of "Fight For 15"? (... I don't mean to be too dismissive of that cause in particular, it's just one he called out EA for not participating in and I find the idea of condemning someone over which of these causes they donate to silly.)

    It doesn’t really matter whether you mean well if you end up doing a bunch of deranged stuff that hurts people, and I can’t praise a movement grounded in a repulsive utilitarian philosophy that has little interest in most of the world’s most pressing near-term concerns and is actively trying to divert bright young idealists who might accomplish some good if they joined authentic grassroots social movements rather than a billionaire-funded cult.
    The truth about doing good is that it doesn’t require much complicated philosophy. What it requires is dedication, a willingness to do things that are unglamorous and tedious. In a movement, you do not get to be a dazzling standout individual who single-handedly changes the world. It’s unsexy. You join with others and add your small drop to the bucket. It’s not a matter of you, but we. There’s already a form of effective altruism, and it’s called socialism. Socialists have been working for a better world for a very long time. Those who want to do “the most good they can” and serve the interests of humanity long-term are welcome to come on board and join the struggle.

    The big evil EA does is ... distract people from socialism.

    I really dislike this antagonistic zero-sum approach to social movements. If you want to sell me on an idea of socialism, just do that instead of arbitrarily pitting it against an unrelated social movement that's not in opposition to it.

    (Also uh maybe this is a cheap shot, but I find it funny the author acts like he's definitely figured out the one acceptable route to social progress when he's a NIMBY and also fired his staff after workplace organizing. Both of these strike me as concretely contributing to much bigger social issues than some nerds being maybe too focused on possibly hypothetical future existential risks!)


    Personally, I don’t really give this kind of importance to stopping human extinction. (Let the manatees have the planet, I say!) It’s more important for me to make sure the humans that do exist have good lives than to make sure humanity keeps existing forever.

    This sounds much more alien of a perspective to me than any EA positions as he gave them. (Sure I agree that there exists some trade-off where it might be better to have a short-lived happy civilization than an eternal civilization that never ever saw happiness and somehow had no chance to ever do so even in the infinity of time, but in general I'm pretty comfortable naming "human extinction" as a realistic scenario to be desperately avoided. I imagine most EAs including many self-proclaimed longtermists would agree that a strict concept of longtermism that only prioritizes sheer numbers of people is incomplete and doesn't handle this hypothetical well.)

    I think the article in trying to explain EA's problems assigns too much political importance to thought experiments over-stretching an idea when "EAs prefer the safe, predictable, and quantifiable route working within the system" is a much simpler explanation for its lack of radical politics.

    Nick Bostrom, another EA-aligned Oxford philosopher whose other bad ideas I have criticized before, says that truly maximizing the amount of well-being would involve the “colonization of the universe,” and using the resulting Lebensraum to run colossal numbers of digital simulations of human beings.

    I wish "colonization movements on Earth were bad and Nazi-like against indigenous peoples, and space colonization has the same word so it must be bad in a similar way" was logic saved for an Onion article.

    21 votes
  4. Comment on Introducing Whisper (OpenAI speech recognition model) in ~comp

    Macil
    Link Parent
    It's been agonizing reading auto-generated subtitles on YouTube and TikTok videos because they make distractingly bad text just like this often. I'm so excited if Whisper might improve...

    It's been agonizing reading auto-generated subtitles on YouTube and TikTok videos because they make distractingly bad text just like this often. I'm so excited if Whisper might improve auto-generated subtitles across the internet as much as shown here.

    5 votes
  5. Comment on Why do new cars look like this? (Gray and without any flake, as if formed out of dough) in ~design

    Macil
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    I always thought it was weird how universal the flake/glitter look was on cars. In general I'm not a big fan of the sparkle+glossy look on things. It feels cheap, and makes me think of designs...

    I always thought it was weird how universal the flake/glitter look was on cars. In general I'm not a big fan of the sparkle+glossy look on things. It feels cheap, and makes me think of designs with cheap frills to distract from low quality. I like the idea of simpler solid colors.

    To be fair, I haven't noticed this style on cars before and found the pictures in the article a little surprising at first, but I kinda like it. If I was buying a car and saw it as an option then I expect I'd strongly consider it.

    I also love basic solid-color ikea furniture. I love the old xkcd about minimalist branding. These less fancy designs make me feel the creators of the product are proud of its quality and think the product stands well enough on its own without cheap distractions.

    1 vote
  6. Comment on Reddit CEO Steve Huffman discusses how he wants every subreddit to be its own media company and he wants to see money being exchanged from users to users and users to subreddits in ~tech

    Macil
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    I like the idea of a site like Reddit making money from subreddits selling swag more than I like it depending on ad money. Assuming subreddits are in charge of their own commercialization...

    I like the idea of a site like Reddit making money from subreddits selling swag more than I like it depending on ad money. Assuming subreddits are in charge of their own commercialization strategies, I'm sure some subreddits will try some obnoxious commercialization strategies, but I'm not particularly attached to any specific subreddits, so if I have to switch a subreddit or two I follow to a less-obnoxious alternative that inevitably pops up, then I think that's a small price to pay to let some possibly-useful funding experimentation happen.

    I use Twitch and Patreon subscriptions to pay a little to a few streamers, some random software projects, and this site itself. I like the way this model encourages projects that are supported by their dedicated fans; it pushes the projects to be more aligned with their dedicated fans, as opposed to the user-hostile behavior that ad-funding models do. I wonder if something like a "Patreon subscription for a subreddit" can work out as well at keeping a project sustainable, though I'm not sure of what the specifics should look like and I expect there's certain versions of it that will happen that won't work out well.

    8 votes
  7. Comment on The Ethereum Merge is done, opening a new era for the second-biggest blockchain in ~finance

    Macil
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    Link Parent
    Many GPU miners in the short term are going to switch to mining other cryptocurrencies, but most of them will find it unprofitable to continue and will stop. Cryptocurrency mining rewards are...

    Many GPU miners in the short term are going to switch to mining other cryptocurrencies, but most of them will find it unprofitable to continue and will stop.

    Cryptocurrency mining rewards are split between all miners, and will be diluted by more miners joining. The mining rewards are what pay for mining to happen. Out of all mining rewards given by GPU-mineable cryptocurrencies, Ethereum used to contribute 90%, so now there's only enough mining rewards across other cryptocurrencies available to pay for 10% of the previous amount of GPU mining. Most miners that switch over to other cryptocurrencies are going to find their share of the mining rewards are way too low to be profitable and will soon stop mining.

    7 votes
  8. Comment on The Ethereum Merge is done, opening a new era for the second-biggest blockchain in ~finance

    Macil
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    Link Parent
    People into it for the software / smart contracts / decentralization aren't too worried about the price or NFT popularity. Ethereum existed for most of its life without NFTs and even further than...

    People into it for the software / smart contracts / decentralization aren't too worried about the price or NFT popularity. Ethereum existed for most of its life without NFTs and even further than 60% down from a past peak price. People in the community are very excited that the merge got pulled off, and now the development effort put into the merge can go back to working on sharding, a planned upgrade which will massively expand Ethereum's capacity and significantly lower its congestion-based transaction fees.

    Cryptocurrency speculators looking to get rich from it are probably pretty disappointed with it right now though. I think many traders expected the news of the merge to cause a price rally and planned to sell on the merge to take advantage of that before others did, instead causing a price dip as many rushed to sell before the others.

    8 votes
  9. Comment on The Ethereum Merge is done, opening a new era for the second-biggest blockchain in ~finance

    Macil
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    Link Parent
    You're thinking of Chia's Proof of Space, an alternative consensus mechanism to Proof of Stake and Proof of Work. Chia's Proof of Space does significantly improve on the energy usage of Proof of...

    It was my understanding that Proof of Stake was originally supposed to rely on having a lot of storage available;

    You're thinking of Chia's Proof of Space, an alternative consensus mechanism to Proof of Stake and Proof of Work. Chia's Proof of Space does significantly improve on the energy usage of Proof of Work, but it still has e-waste issues and is believed to have run up hard drive costs for a while as Chia miners bought them up. Proof of Stake as used by Ethereum is much better than either of these as it does away with both the energy and e-waste externalities of the others, as it only incentivizes validators to compete with each other through staked currency within the system rather than any external real-world resources.

    3 votes
  10. Comment on The Ethereum Merge is done, opening a new era for the second-biggest blockchain in ~finance

    Macil
    Link Parent
    In PoW, if you use your mining rigs to attempt a double-spend attack, you can go right back to profitably mining or attempting more attacks with them right after. In PoS, attempting a double-spend...

    The bigger problem with PoS is that it's not as clear that it actually works as a consensus mechanism that's resistant to attack. For all the ills of PoW, it certainly and fairly simply accomplishes the goal of making bad actor attacks very expensive.

    In PoW, if you use your mining rigs to attempt a double-spend attack, you can go right back to profitably mining or attempting more attacks with them right after. In PoS, attempting a double-spend attack gets your entire stake slashed preventing you from attempting more attacks or going back to validating, significantly raising the costs of attacks. PoS has multiple properties like this and finality that give it certain security properties that are stronger than PoW does. It's true that PoS is much more complicated than PoW and has a higher risk of a design or implementation defect existing, but PoS systems like Ethereum's have been live for years in other busy blockchains, and the software engineering that went into Ethereum's implementation has been incredibly meticulous, with multiple interoperable implementations developed to a standard and all heavily tested together.

    4 votes
  11. Comment on The Ethereum Merge is done, opening a new era for the second-biggest blockchain in ~finance

    Macil
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    Link Parent
    I'm not sure what the ROI on staking is presently, but it does go down the more people that join, so I expect people to join in continuously until the expected returns are a low percent similar to...

    I'm not sure what the ROI on staking is presently, but it does go down the more people that join, so I expect people to join in continuously until the expected returns are a low percent similar to other common investments.

    There are staking pools that let people with less than the minimum stake participate and get returns.

    2 votes
  12. Comment on Crafting is (kinda) pointless in ~games.game_design

    Macil
    Link
    In Fallout 4, I really loved the idea that I'm building a base and scrounging up parts from the wasteland to do so, but it wasn't all that engaging gameplay-wise and I agree with the video's...

    In Fallout 4, I really loved the idea that I'm building a base and scrounging up parts from the wasteland to do so, but it wasn't all that engaging gameplay-wise and I agree with the video's criticism of it. It's hard to keep track of what resources you want and what you want to use them for, and it's not worth the effort to try because the game is mostly balanced for it to be unnecessary and doesn't reward you enough for putting in the effort. Keeping track of what you need is even extra pointless because you can't do much to choose what to search for (it seemed like all areas had about the same mix of random supplies) and you can usually take everything home that you find (so you don't have to choose what to prioritize too often).

    In games like Minecraft and Factorio that are much more specifically about crafting, it's much more interesting. It's more rewarding especially because it gets you stuff you need. It's easier to keep track of the various resources you need because there's mainly a few iconic core types, and you're forced to deal with them often so the game causes you to build some expertise with the system.

    3 votes
  13. Comment on Stable Diffusion public release - a fully open text-to-image generator in ~tech

    Macil
    Link
    I'm excited for this, because as an actually released model, it's possible for new tools to be built on this like this impressive collage demo. With OpenAI's DALL-E, not only could you not run it...

    I'm excited for this, because as an actually released model, it's possible for new tools to be built on this like this impressive collage demo. With OpenAI's DALL-E, not only could you not run it on your own machine, you aren't even allowed to make your own tools like this for using it. There's so much more possible with AI art tools than just generating one full image from one prompt.

    3 votes
  14. Comment on Reddit launches NFTs in ~tech

    Macil
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    Link Parent
    I find it strange that you start off emphasizing it's a good thing that you only get Steam company scrip from reselling. It's like if you could only return things to Walmart for Walmart credits,...

    I find it strange that you start off emphasizing it's a good thing that you only get Steam company scrip from reselling. It's like if you could only return things to Walmart for Walmart credits, and you also were prevented from being able to resell things you got there outside of Walmart for actual dollars. Surely it'd be better the other way; praising Steam for only allowing it being cashed as Steam company scrip only makes sense if you think the alternative is not allowing cashing out at all and seems weird to praise it in direct comparison to an option that is more open.

    I have never been able to turn lootboxes into actual dollar-value rewards outside of Steam Inventory and Marketplace

    I don't know if you're saying that A) you've never been successful at selling Steam inventory outside of Steam's own marketplace, which probably has a lot to do with Steam restricting their inventory to their systems and outside marketplaces have trouble because they operate outside of the terms of service and are untrusted because they have the technical ability to run away with people's deposited items; these are all things that blockchains/NFTs directly solve by creating an open ecosystem. Or B) you're just pointing out that Steam inventory and marketplace don't have many competitors, which is a weak reason to argue that they should continue to not have competition or competition that does things differently.

    There is even an argument to be made that NFTs are a front to get dollars moved into crypto in the first place.

    The linked video part talks for a while about the weird economics of pay-to-earn, which sure they only do work out in the seemingly weird case that there's enough speculative money flowing in, but that same type of system is exactly what you were just praising TF2 for doing and also criticizing NFT-using systems for supposedly not doing ("Before, what would I have done with all my duplicate TF2 weapons? They'd just sit there. Now I could essentially get a retailer discount on buying new games.", "With NFTs, it's not quite the same approach. Instead of being able to sell what you already have for a dollar value, they are instead asking you to purchase something for a dollar value with a chance that you can eventually turn it back into a dollar value.").

    I think NFT's proximity to cryptocurrencies and the way that could possibly overly encourage broader cryptocurrency speculation is one downside to them, but given how profitable it is for Valve to operate the Steam marketplace, I don't think one has to ascribe any ulterior motives to a company wanting to do something similar in a way that looks easier and better to them (since they don't have to operate the resale marketplaces themselves).

    1 vote
  15. Comment on Reddit launches NFTs in ~tech

    Macil
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    I'm not sure I expect this to be successful but I'm interested at seeing experimentation happen like this. Digital collectables and marketplaces are interesting in some Steam games like TF2; I...

    I'm not sure I expect this to be successful but I'm interested at seeing experimentation happen like this. Digital collectables and marketplaces are interesting in some Steam games like TF2; I think the choice of doing them in a forum (reddit) is weird, but so was doing it in games at first, and I can't think of any principle that suggests it's inherently more permissible to do in a game than a forum.

    Some people suggest NFTs are completely different from and worse than Steam inventory items because they involve blockchains, but I've never seen critics actually explore what features are gotten by involving blockchains: the big difference between this and Steam/TF2 skins is that these could officially be securely resold at outside marketplaces (that the creator isn't required to have any relationship with) and have sales cashed out instead of kept as Steam company scrip, which seems like a strict improvement over Steam/TF2 skins. Even if you're someone who thinks this is an anti-feature, saying that NFTs don't get anything from using a blockchain is just misrepresenting it. (I could kind of see the case for painting it as an anti-feature, but it's weird to me to imagine someone who likes the idea of the Steam inventory and marketplace, though also thinks it's actually important that the the financialization is hampered by shoddy insecure options for cashing out. The idea of that argument feels like something that would come from a status quo bias.)

    I can see part of an argument against this experimentation: maybe the Steam inventory and marketplace was good as a strange small niche but that the growth of the model to more of the tech industry is concerning because maybe say it encourages gambling more than it should be. But I worry following this logic just means that the Steam marketplace can't ever have competition and is owed a monopoly on the idea.

    Ultimately I think the advertising-supported model of the internet is deeply flawed, in that it incentivizes breaking people's privacy on a mass scale and in that it's bad at supporting good content that people actually want, and so I'm interested in seeing more experiments in getting site funding. Subscription-based sites/games/etc where access is entirely gated on payments usually fail to grow at all, but it seems like a promising model to have places where a subset of users pay for features that can be lived without who then subsidize the site for all the free users. Accepting money from people who want superficial cosmetic signifiers seems like an effective way to do it. It's basically what YouTubers with Patreons offering credit shoutout rewards are doing. The Steam inventory / NFT way just has the interesting benefit on top of that as if you could sell off your Patreon reward when you were done with it, which seems like a useful property for digital things to have that has been shamefully absent from most marketplaces.

    4 votes
  16. Comment on Georgia Guidestones destroyed by explosive device in ~news

    Macil
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    Link Parent
    The first three items say to make the population much smaller than it is today, be careful to reproduce right (... is this a racial thing?), and impose a single language (I guess I think there are...

    The first three items say to make the population much smaller than it is today, be careful to reproduce right (... is this a racial thing?), and impose a single language (I guess I think there are possible paths and benefits to this done right but idk it's not hard to get colonialist vibes from this one; there's a lot of ways to do this wrongly). Then the rest are pretty uninspired nothings that are essentially "be fair". At its worst it sounds eugenics-y and at its best it's utterly generic platitudes. The coolest thing the guidestones have going for them is just the medium itself.

    Also one of them mentions a "world court", which sets off conspiracy-theorists who think it has to do with the "New World Order". I'm guessing that one is why someone bombed the stones.

    5 votes
  17. Comment on An experiment to test GitHub Copilot's legality in ~comp

    Macil
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    Link Parent
    It could be fair use to train a neural net on code, but not necessarily fair use in all cases for a user of it to pass off the output of the neural net as their work. Conflating these is like...

    It could be fair use to train a neural net on code, but not necessarily fair use in all cases for a user of it to pass off the output of the neural net as their work. Conflating these is like trying to determine if Google results are legal to use in projects just because Google itself is legal.

    6 votes
  18. Comment on An experiment to test GitHub Copilot's legality in ~comp

    Macil
    Link
    I don't think the concept of finding Copilot generally legal or illegal to use makes sense. It's a tool and intent would be judged in cases using it. I'd expect most snippets it spits out even if...

    I don't think the concept of finding Copilot generally legal or illegal to use makes sense. It's a tool and intent would be judged in cases using it. I'd expect most snippets it spits out even if they are rote copies aren't significant enough to be copyrighted, but someone that prompts it to get a significant rote output and passes it off as their own work will probably get in trouble. It probably would be a good improvement though for Copilot to detect when it might be too closely matching a single instance of some code and link the user to the source of the code, so the user could make the judgment about whether the result was safe to use in a similar way the user would judge whether to use some code they found from googling.

    I don't really relate to the goal of trying to stop Copilot. What I like about open source is sharing and enabling things like Copilot. I mostly prefer permissive licenses like MIT, though I've considered GPL for more weighty things, but even then I don't think a significant part of the value of my work comes from snippet-sized bits that Copilot might copy or rework. Seeing developers territorial over that makes me imagine if an author went on the warpath to make sure nobody knowingly or not ever used the same combination of words from a sentence as they did ever.

    7 votes
  19. Comment on Former YouTuber Lindsay Ellis says she’s learning to live with the trauma of being ‘canceled’ in ~life

    Macil
    Link Parent
    She's talked about and made a video about the harassment she and many people she associated with faced. Whether "canceled" should be defined to refer to that seems like the least interesting angle...

    She's talked about and made a video about the harassment she and many people she associated with faced. Whether "canceled" should be defined to refer to that seems like the least interesting angle about this.

    12 votes
  20. Comment on Mark Zuckerberg envisions a billion people in the metaverse spending hundreds of dollars each in ~tech

    Macil
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    I believe it, well not completely sure on the exact number but I feel it's closer than most people's guesses. I just wish Meta had more interesting plans. Their Quest headsets are really great,...

    I believe it, well not completely sure on the exact number but I feel it's closer than most people's guesses. I just wish Meta had more interesting plans. Their Quest headsets are really great, but everything Meta has shown about their own virtual world software has looked boring and unimaginative. I fully believe that people spending money to customize their avatars will be a big thing, because I already see that in VRChat with people buying 3d model assets for customizing their avatars or commissioning others to work on their avatar model - but Meta's presentation of this is repulsively boring. Meta talks about people buying avatar clothing from existing name-brand companies, which they show as basically just name-brand designs slapped onto the texture of a reused shirt model. Frankly, VR avatar fashion is already a thing and Meta's PR shows zero knowledge of what it is. I don't blame them for trying to define their own standards of avatar fashion but they need to do something that works at all compared to what others are doing. VR avatar fashion is really early and it needs the chaotic melting pot of anything-goes platforms like VRChat to develop, and that's where people really putting in effort or spending money will be.

    I think Meta's PR about their metaverse stuff is failing to interest end users, but it is still accomplishing some things that are useful for Meta: it's convincing lots of developers that there is money to be made in VR and that they can do better than Meta's metaverse ideas. It's making people more receptive to hearing about and understanding other VR stuff from other companies. These things help it grow the Quest ecosystem. I think part of the reason the ads are a bit baffling is because people think they're just about Meta's own software rather than trying to promote the Quest ecosystem overall.

    7 votes