January 08, 2016

People checking out their iPhones

People gaze at their iPhones. Credit: Braden Kowitz / Flickr Creative Commons

A couple of years ago, a writer named Will Oremus was listening to a speech, when one word in particular caught his attention.

The speech was being given by the co-founder of Instagram, Kevin Systrom.

And Systrom was talking about the essence of his company, what it’s about at its core. He said that when he thought about Instagram, he thought about “moments.”

Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook, had used strangely similar language earlier that day, proclaiming that his company was all about sharing moments.

Oremus started to wonder if the word “moments” had magic properties - or made Facebook and Instagram seem more warm and fuzzy.

And then Facebook rolled out a new app. Called Moments. Which was followed by an app from Twitter. Also called Moments.

All of this wigged out Will Oremus.

“Sometimes we talk about moments as something you live in, or something to get lost in, well Silicon Valley doesn’t want us to live in the moment or get lost in the moment, because guess what, if we’re living in a moment, we’re not pulling out our phone to record it. And if we’re not pulling out our phone, then from Silicon Valley’s purposes, that moment is lost.”

To Oremus, it seemed like mentioning the word “moments” had become tech companies’ way of saying: we care about your life.

Apparently, they thought it was a word they thought would press our buttons. And get us to share our moments with them. But when you share your moments with Silicon Valley, they’re using those moments “to build a profile [of us] for advertisers. The more we share those moments, the more they know about our lives, and the better they can target us with advertisements.”

Oremus thinks that “moments” is nevertheless about the exit the stage.

“I don’t think it resonates with people in the way that tech marketers think it does."

But he assures us that there’s a new buzzword coming next.

This article was based on a piece by Will Oremus

Facebook, Will Oremus, Twitter, Moments, Silicon Valley

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