back to article Horizon Workrooms promises a virtual future of teal despair

You can say a lot about Facebook's insane parasitism of human society. Like the fungus that infects an ant and takes over its nervous system, making it climb to the top of a plant and erupt in an explosion of spores, Facebook has mindlessly evolved to exploit us with maximal efficiency. There is no moral guiding the act of …

  1. Adam Wynne 1

    You're not a fan, then? :)

    1. big_D Silver badge
      Big Brother

      I'm not either.

      Take the worst of video conferencing - lack of body language - and mix it with the worst of VR - lack of facial expression - and you have a new kind of meeting hell.

      1. The Indomitable Gall

        My experience is different

        My experience is different.

        I've "attended" a few conferences in online in the last couple of years, and I've actually found VR to be an immense aid to focus.

        Sitting at a screen, it's all too easy to pull up a Facebook tab and zone out of the meeting/talk entirely, but in a VR headset, distraction is far less immediate. Hell, you can't even just glance at your phone under the desk, like we've all done in physical meetings.

        Also, don't underestimate the power of positional audio. With voices coming from multiple directions, people can talk at the same time without any of them becoming incomprehensible. There are video-conferencing apps out there that take advantage of this (based on research findings that people don't care much whether or not the audio position matches the actual physical location of the screen avatar) but at the moment the "big boys" (MS, Zoom etc) don't, and I'm not sure why not.

        1. khjohansen

          Re: My experience is different

          "Manglerisms" will ALWAYS be incomprehensible - now there's just NO ESCAPE from the PHB drivel !

          ... I'll be drifting towards axe murder within the hour ..

        2. big_D Silver badge

          Re: My experience is different

          Given that I usually have to document discussions, calling up a tab with something else is the last thing on my mind...

          Also, don't underestimate the power of positional audio. With voices coming from multiple directions, people can talk at the same time without any of them becoming incomprehensible.

          That doesn't work face to face or with surround sound for me. As soon as two or more people speak at the same time, I can't follow what anybody is saying. I can't filter out one voice over another or concentrate on conversation, it all washes over me in a jumble of words.

          The worst is TV, here in Germany, often in the news, they'll have the original voices in the background and the translator talking over the original soundtrack. I often only understand half of what is being said, because I am getting words in different languages jumbled in my head - the worst is English original with German translator talking over top.

          1. Enric Martinez

            Re: My experience is different

            I feel your pain bro.

            And it can get worse: Original speaker in a language you know (Spanish, for instance), German dubbing and English subtitles. Aaaargh!!!!

        3. BloggsyMaloan

          Re: My experience is different

          >people can talk at the same time without any of

          >them becoming incomprehensible

          So you're not used to business speak?

          Lucky you.

        4. Loyal Commenter

          Re: My experience is different

          Presumably, you're attending those conferences because they are related to something you have an interest in.

          I challenge you to sit through a 90 minute meeting, 89:30 of which is your manager talking in detail about other people's projects, and keeping your attention on everything that is being said, for those 30 seconds where your input is needed, without becoming distracted, all the time overcoming the urge to open a wrist just to test that reality still exists. Too many of those, and your brain is going to end up like some sort of blancmange.

          1. The Indomitable Gall

            Re: My experience is different

            Yes, and a side-effect of the pandemic is a long-overdue move towards shorter and more focused meetings, which I'm hoping will live on in the back-in-the-office world.

            As for work meetings, well if I'm in a "webcams-off" meeting, I'd started lying on the floor to eliminate computer-based distraction and continue to listen, and then I moved to putting on my VR headset and using virtual desktop to stream the browser wirelessly to my headset halfway across the room. With the mouse and keyboard out of my hands, I was able to focus, despite being in a dull, uninteresting management briefing.

            Oh, and some of those conference talks were monumentally tedious too.

        5. Enric Martinez

          Re: My experience is different

          And what is the exact point of not being able to zone out when that what is being showed or said is of null interest for you?

          On the other hand: If the content is so important, why exactly would you want to zone out?

          Usually, in civilized companies and institutions, you get a list of points before a meeting. And is understood that the during the exposition and discussion of the points that are of lesser interest to you, you will not be required to pay attention or even participate.

          Also: If the point is important, you may want to do something else than staring like an owl. You may actually want to take notes. And some people need to scribble or fidget to actually pay attention to what is being said. That is actually a learning strategy taught in "How to learn" courses.

          Sure, for you, particularly, it may be a good thing. But I seriously doubt that it would be good for general use. Specially because it forces a way of working that is not fit for the majority of us and restrict the flexibility of a real meeting, be it online, in RL or hybrid.

      2. Enric Martinez

        Add a burdensome set of VR Goggles to it.

        And a good dose of "Hey, it's not working"

        All of that to mimic exactly what you already have in RL: Keyboard and all ...

        Oh, and don't forget extra power, CO2 emissions and cooling water for the data centres where this will run.

  2. Steve Kerr

    I can see the next step

    IOI Loyalty Centres like in Ready Player One.

    Get into your FB workpod peon.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm just happy

    That I eschewed Fecalbook years ago and anyone suggesting that I contact them by SpyBook gets told that it is not going to be possible.

    Then ZuckBaby comes up with this POS. Ok, they do need to sell those warehouses full of Occulus devices somehow but this?

    Get lost and stay lost.

    I hope that this dies a horrible death but I get the feeling that it will linger on for a while yet just like their messenger screen thing. I see the ads for it have started appearing again on UK TV.

    Like Alexa devices, these are nasty little bugs that slurp your life up that you have to pay good money for. Facebook and Amazon etc are relying on the stupidity of people. There are enough of them out there, especially in the USA. After all, they elected Trump as grifter in chief.

    1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

      Re: I'm just happy

      Don't sit on the fence like that; tell us what you really think.

      p.s. I'm with you. The sooner Bookface drops off the planet the better. The problem is, we're a problem-solving species. We like to work on interesting problems, irrespective of the end user... hey, that's a neat trick, let's do it.

      I spent the last five or ten years of my career ignoring the wiles and blandishments of the defence industry, who had many technically fascinating projects they wanted me to work on... but I didn't hold with what happened when the product got used. Maybe software engineering training should include more emphasis on what happens when you've done the technically fun stuff.

      1. big_D Silver badge

        Re: I'm just happy

        FacePalm and all of its subsidiaries are actually blacklisted on my home network - DNS server black lists them and refuses to resolve the addresses - over 2,500 at last count.

        At work, the list is in the hosts file of my laptop.

  4. Steve Button Silver badge

    Worth repeating

    "You can say a lot about Facebook's insane parasitism of human society. Like the fungus that infects an ant and takes over its nervous system, making it climb to the top of a plant and erupt in an explosion of spores, Facebook has mindlessly evolved to exploit us with maximal efficiency.

    There is no moral guiding the act of hyper-categorising people and feeding them to whatever entity wants them most, but it delivers cash. So it will be done. Democracy may falter as a result, pitting families against themselves in a new civil culture war, but the spreadsheet looks good."

    Am loving those first two paragraphs. This is why I don't use Facebook any more.

    1. Arthur the cat Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Worth repeating

      Am loving those first two paragraphs.

      Ditto. This is one of those times when I wish I could upvote the article.

    2. Someone Else Silver badge

      Re: Worth repeating


      On the one hand, kudos for expanding my vocabulary. On the other hand, perhaps showing off just a bit?

      You decide.

      But in the meantime, somebody hide this guy's thesaurus for a bit, 'mkay?

      1. Kane Silver badge

        Re: Worth repeating

        "But in the meantime, somebody hide this guy's thesaurus for a bit, 'mkay?"

        Maybe have a dictionary at hand so you can look up those difficult words? It's almost like you're eschewing the ability for the human mind to learn.



        Deliberately avoid using; Abstain from.

        "He appealed to the crowd to eschew violence"

        1. all ears

          Re: Worth repeating

          Be sure to eschew your food thoroughly before eswallowing.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Worth repeating

      Hey, the reason I abandoned FB wasn't the company itself ... it was the people I ACTUALLY KNOW. Their selfish behaviour, their childish petulance, their irritating food-photos, their inane gibberish, their unspirational mottos. The company is truly terrible, make no mistake, but it really brings out the very worst in people and that's why I can't bear to look at it. I thought we were better than that ... I guess I was wrong. As the Joker said, "You get what you fucking deserve."

  5. Andy 73 Silver badge

    Someone asked...

    "So, how do we get from here, to The Matrix?"

    "I know!"

    1. Chris G

      Re: Someone asked...

      Take the blue pill, climb into the Feacebook pod where you will be plumbed in and provided with everything FB thinks you need for the rest of your existence. You will watch virtual ads and buy virtual items from those ads while having virtually all of your energy and will extracted.

      Then you will die.

  6. elsergiovolador Silver badge


    VR is good for the environment though. You no longer would have to buy a fancy furniture or get those bookshelves filled with statement books. No need to go to hairdresser for a trim either. Less pollution and all that.

    Imagine shopping with your partner for a new set in virtual Ikea or getting that LV drip with premium 10-bit high res textures.

    1. Rafael #872397

      Re: Environment

      You no longer would have to buy fancy furniture

      Nor fancy pants, or pants at all. And I can pretend that what's I am drinking is coffee.

      But I can still do that with a computer, no need for a VR that will add another nausea-inducing layer to the experience.

      (1.5 years of this and still we didn't get a no-pants icon?)

      1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

        Icon production is in a catastrophic downwards spiral at El Reg.


  7. Howard Sway Silver badge

    The camera angle that lets us glance away. The teapot with craft IPA

    All "problems" that can easily be fixed by technology, in the eyes of our wannabe tech masters. Just imagine what the application will look like from the bosses point of view.

    "Minion Number 7 : maximum away glance time exceeded! Demote! Demote!".

    "Alexa air monitor detects traces of alcohol! Terminate! Terminate!"

    At what point will the headset only operate once you've snapped a remotely activated electrode onto your squishy bits?

    "AI determined punishment : 12V jolts for 15 seconds".

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      The teapot with craft IPA.

      IPA isn't my personal tipple of choice but the invention has to be recognised!

      1. Agamemnon

        Re: The teapot with craft IPA.

        Brew of choice in the US Pacific North West (Seattle, and bloody Redmond where I, as a Unix guy, unfortunately live).

        One cannot hide from it. From my deck where I'm sitting, there are four breweries and five "tasting rooms" within walking distance.

        IPA, Double IPA, Triple IPA, YouPA IPA, WePA IPA, Let's PA IPA.

        I prefer a good Porter.

        1. Someone Else Silver badge

          Re: The teapot with craft IPA.

          I vote for a good Reposado Tequila.

          But then, I color outside the lines now and then, so....

        2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

          Re: The teapot with craft IPA.

          Having spoken to a couple of brewers about it I think there are two main reasons for the popularity: the strong hops were the biggest break from that bland MAB (middle American beer), that was often the only thing available. And, it's difficult to go wrong because no one will know if it's over- or underhopped. This is one of the reasons behind it in the first place: the hops masked the cheap beer and long and unsuitable travelling conditions.

          Personally, I prefer gentler bitters where the balance of malts and hops is more difficult to fudge. But variety is the spice of life!

          1. Someone Else Silver badge

            @Charlie Clark -- Re: The teapot with craft IPA.

            Personally, I prefer gentler bitters where the balance of malts and hops is more difficult to fudge. But variety is the spice of life!

            I saw what you did there...

  8. Pascal Monett Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    "the horrible inhuman void of Facebook's vision for the future"

    An excellent summary of Zuckerberg.

  9. steelpillow Silver badge


    What I find truly frightening is how the sheeple will slurp it up because that is easier on the brain cells than declining the click-through. People will complain, but that won't stop them using it.

    I confidently predict that Facebook are already negotiating with Microsoft to license a 3D version of Clippy to guide us around their virtual orifice and explain how everything you ever wanted lies behind the virtual ribbon floating a finger-poke up, just above your head.

  10. Agamemnon

    I've had a developer Oculus on my desk for some time now. Pre Facebook.

    It looks cool and collects dust but it's otherwise worthless since I don't have a Facebook account.

    Per Alastair Dabs: "I can't even Give my old hardware away."

    At least my old 3.5" floppy drive comes in handy once in a while installing DOS 6.2.

  11. Barry Rueger

    Still baffled...

    Honestly, Facebook has the worst user interface that I've seen in decades, and makes simple things difficult. I can't imagine adding VR goggles to the mix.

    Even though I've found some real utility on Facebook (the many Living in France groups) it always feels like battling upstream in a river of molaaes

    And of course Facebook the corporate entity is evil scum.

  12. Unicornpiss

    It may..

    ..still be better than what Webex would come up with though for VR..

  13. umacf24

    This is the stuff!

    Give us more of this stuff.

  14. johnnyblaze


    Don't use Facebook, never have used Facebook, and I never will use Facebook - anything. This is just the worst possible creation, one that I hope arrives stillborn. FB obviously think companies will buy the product (and associated per-user license), buy the Oculus headsets and all pile into this dead-eyed virtual meeting room all the while FB captures all the data and starts monetizing at a new level. Would corporates even be happy with the potential boardroom spying that would ensue. Nah, this is DOA for sure.

  15. DutchBasterd

    I wonder when they'll get sued by VMware.

  16. hoola Silver badge

    Who would have thought it...

    A company that has a foot hold in flogging VR headsets now comes up with an online conference facility that can use them.

    It is bad enough as it is with all the online meeting tools without having to require specific headsets as well. There are also significant issues with a lot of this tech, particularly in the VR space that makes it completely and utterly useless for those that have any sort of special requirements to interface with their computer. Some is even more basic, there are huge numbers of people out there with hearing or eyesight issues that tech is blindly excluding.

    The trouble is that the developers of a lot of this equipment or software have no comprehension of anyone other than themselves using it.

  17. spold Silver badge

    Not much changes....

    I was project manager for IBM Immersive Virtual Reality Systems in the mid 90s. Tele-presence was a concept then that no one really wanted to touch, so was tele-dildonics which seems to have fared a little better (having a better user experience). Augmented Reality has a much better business case and potential use-cases. Having an information overlay can be useful and would work even in video-conferencing sessions (not for the video, for supplemental information - as in action items, or "ignore him he's a ****er"). In either case, never put anything produced by Faceplant near your head.

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