Some people in the VR & AR industry have tagged me and sent me this Important article by Avi Bar-Zeev.
Well, I really appreciate Avi and his articles & experience, I always did, and in many ways I see him as a mentor in XR industry. I followed him on LinkedIn way before he asked for my feedback / opinion about an interesting presentation he made for SXSW. But even though, I’m not sure I agree with everything in his latest article, I think it’s an important voice to raise, and I often like his XR articles!
It’s OK to Agree to Disagree. Here’s my POV on working at BigTech:
Yes, you are right – just like him, I too always talked, wrote, and blogged about the importance of Privacy, BigData, and Cyber Security (not only as a UX Lead at different Cyber Startups and BigTech companies). But unlike him, I never had an issue to work at these companies, and I don’t believe in “burning bridges” or “boycotting” companies like Facebook, Google etc… In fact I was approached by Google and Facebook several times in the recent years, even while I worked at Cisco Systems and Microsoft. Honestly, I always preferred to take part in game-changing products and companies, and also make an impact on them, and if needed – to raise my voice, mentor others, and talk with them about important things in regard to immoral business decisions (IMHO) when it comes to our users, their privacy and security. And not surprisingly, even VPs and Senior officials were happy to have discussions with me about this kind of issues, they too understand the importance of such sensitive and important issues.
So, once again, I don’t believe in “Boycotting” organizations (or countries, like BDS does to Israel while supporting Terrorist organizations like Hamas). As an Israeli who was born in the Soviet Union (USSR) I appreciate the freedom of speech we have in Israel, and I think that democratic discussion are a very important, and from my experience, BigTech companies are very liberal and people feel free to talk about the issues that are important to them, even if they disagree. On a personal level – I love Microsoft, and I’ve criticized them long before I joined the company, I even I switched to Linux because I did not like Windows 10 (and macOS) Telemetry and Privacy issues. But I did not have any problems in my decision to join them and make an impact on the company and the products I was leading and in charge of. I worked with an amazing people and my voice always been taken seriously, and for that I’m grateful.
So, I don’t have issues with Facebook / Oculus VR, and I even think Zuck is a very talented, visionary and smart CEO.
Yes, I’m not happy with the mandatory FB account for Oculus VR, but I don’t really have an issue with it. They are leading the XR & Metaverse revolution and it’s the best thing for us (the users & creators) and for the competition! Speaking about competition – That’s why I’m so happy to see Valve’s FOSS (Free and open source) VR/AR approach! Btw, If you love Open Standards, FOSS, and Open Source, make sure you follow OpenXR, and XRdesktop. And If Valve’s future XR glasses will be open source (Linux based just like their new SteamDeck ) it’ll put the user in control (unlike Tech Giants) and you’ll have the most safe alternative with Privacy in mind!
Well, at least until we’ll see the AppleGlass, because in terms of UX Apple might be just fine. But if you really care about REAL PRIVACY – Valve is probably the way to go! In summary – I think Avi’s article is an important one, because it will make designers, developers, and everybody else realize why Privacy in VR/AR fields is important more than any PC, Phone, or a Tablet they ever used. And I’m happy to see designers going out of their comfort zone, to the technical side. I’ve met more and more designers who made the switch to Linux and Open Source tools, that’s so cool to see! Keep going!
And before you ask, yes – Avi is an Israeli name, and no – we are not related, he’s not my cousin or something. Just 2 UX designers who are passionate about XR and have the same name but different opinions 😉
If you haven’t read Avi Bar-Zeev’s article, go read it (even if you don’t agree with everything):
A shorter version of this post was published on my Facebook Page.
Free Thinkers, Can you set yourself free? 😉
P.S. In the past I tried to De-Google myself, and I managed to do so. I still use my own NextCloud cloud server, but let’s face it, why should I boycott Google or Facebook if their tools are productive and useful to me? I love Android (and Gmail & YouTube), it makes my life easier. although I wrote tons of articles and made YouTube videos about how to use Open Source Firewalls and Permission managers to take care of your privacy on Android, even without installing the open source and DeGoogled Rom, such as LineageOS (AOSP). I’ll probably go back to the iPhone after 10 years with Android, and only if the AppleGlass will require an iPhone to work (just like AppleWatch). Just be aware of what you are sharing, and what kind of permissions you give your apps & services!
But yes, I’m not a fanboy anymore, I’m not tied to Google or Apple Ecosystems, since I moved to Linux, I can easily drop their services, because there are so many FOSS alternatives out there. Even as professional a UX/UI designer. Tools like Figma, Unity3D, Krita, KdeNlive, LibreOffice, PhotoGimp, etc. I have a very popular article about this on Medium.