The Metaverse Is So Very Fragile

I’m still really cold this morning and I’m dreaming of a time when I can put my meat puppet into hibernation for a while and just romp around in the metaverse.  Then I lost 30 minutes of my life to “restarting my connection to the metaverse” and it reminded me that if I went into hibernation, there’s a pretty good chance the metaverse would crash and I’d be in suspended animation forever.


It started while I responding to a Facebook message from a friend who is a senior executive at AT&T.  I twhined (whine on twitter) last night that “I think AT&T might have lost me today.”  He saw this message and this morning I woke up to a Facebook message from him asking “I see you had a bad experiece with AT&T, something I can help you with?”.  I give my friend (and – by reference AT&T) – huge props for reaching out.

As I was responding about the tragic AT&T iPhone coverage in Boulder along with the noise yesterday that AT&T was exploring trying to give high-bandwidth users incentives to reduce or modify their usage (which the pundits immediately turned into “AT&T is going to charge high-bandwidth users more”) Firefox crashed.  This was the second Firefox crash I’d had this morning so I decided to reboot.  Rebooting hung so I forced reboot.  Ten minutes later W7 and all my apps were running again (of course, in this process, W7 installed an upgrade) but I had no network.  I messed around on my computer for a little while but quickly checked my iPhone which also had no network (via my home WiFi).  I stumbled around in the dark, found my Comcast modem, and reset it by unplugging it from the wall and plugging it back in.  I sat and meditated for about five minutes – eventually I had Internet connectivity again.  However, the message to my AT&T friend that was half completed was gone when I brought up Facebook again (no surprise there, just more reinforcement of how fragile it all is.)

I’m feeling mentally bipolar about all of this.  It’s absolutely incredible to me that this stuff even works.  The range and pace of innovation is awesome.  And when I project out 20 years my brain explodes with joy and anticipation.  Yet, as I watch the little cylinder shaped LED on my laptop computer light up as the hard drive is pinned, I shudder a little.

Did I say that I’m cold?

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  • Suyog Mody

    Brad – definitely identify with the post, in a weird personal way.

    Also – "The range and pace of innovation is awesome. And when I project out 20 years my brain explodes with joy and anticipation."

    Couldn't agree more – I almost wish (not really) that the pace would slow down so some sanity could come, but then again, where's the fun in that?

  • I solve my desire for the pace to slow down by taking a week off the grid once a quarter.  When I come back, I always seem to find myself in a very fast moving river, but I just revel in it.  And then in 89 days, when I’m run down, tired, and frazzled, I just take another week off.  It’s so cool to be a human right now.

  • It is a funny feeling to be almost simultaneously in awe of what we can do and hugely frustrated by it. Human nature. Louis CK nailed it on Conan a while back ("It's going to space!"):

  • I give it 2 years before we start hearing about the wonders of Techstars San Diego from new local Brad Feld.
    Stay warm, its all about the layers . . . .

  • Hah – that’s great!  I think I just need to go to San Diego right now and warm up, regardless of anything else.

  • Nailed it. It is so amazing that any of this works, and yet so frustrating when it doesn't. One of my home routers has been hanging, so I went on line to decide which new one to buy. Every single one has lots of great comments, and then lots of "what a piece of junk, it never even worked." I think a big part of the problem is that the complexity has exceed the ability to test. Or at least the willingness to test to the extent needed to really make all of the parts and systems reliable.

  • It's such a joy when it's all working though, isn't it? Every now and then there's a meltdown, and those do suck. This seems to be the only industry where this type of product reliability is acceptable. I was going to make a joke about imagining that your car needed a reboot because the steering mechanism froze while traveling 70mph, but that's probably not that far off either.

  • The cost per bug found during testing is a lot lower for the first bug than for the last one found (I'd suspect an exponential increase over time but a quick search turned up no research on topic). Eventually, the cost of finding the next bug is no longer cost effective.

    I don't know if HW and SW manufacturers think about testability when they design and build their products, but I suspect not since so few even seem to think about usability (how much do you think car manufacturers think about the usability of their designs?). Tech manufacturers' concerns seem to be with features and specifications, probably because those are the things that drive sales.

    So, in the end, it comes back to us users / buyers. If our behavior were more driven by testing (and usability), the products might be better.

  • After camping abroad for a year, I emerged from the bush in 1996 to visit a San Francisco friend working at Adobe. I remember very clearly how she gently explained this newfangled thing called 'email' to me. I watched her demonstration, asking the obvious questions that we still laugh about to this day.

    She: " … and then you press SEND. See?"
    Me: "But, wait, where does it go? In the air? That's weird. I don't get it."

    I remain awestruck, both at technology and my unbelievable luck to walk the earth just as it blossomed. Thanks for the reminder, which I'll need the next time my connection or call fails.

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