I want to talk about the metaverse...
Now I know... it’s been done! It’s been done well! How many articles have we read about the 'M' word in this week alone?
The aim of this piece isn’t to expound some radical new idea, rather, I humbly offer a broad view on what this all means, how close we are to reaching the promised meta land, and how good old Zuck is front and center in the rat race to a new and virtual reality.
I have heard various definitions on what this metaverse is, but my favorite so far is from Adam Draper, the founder and manager of Boost VC who explains:
“the metaverse is a visual representation of the digital world (internet) with true immersion.”
Let’s imagine how a developed metaverse could look years and years down the line:
Instead of taking the bus to sit in your very real office, you can don a headset and meet in a digital representation of your office, drinking digital rice milk coffee, and fighting over the digital AC temperature. Or you could hold your morning meeting at the beach… or in space… or in space as a digital dinosaur avatar… or in space, as a dinosaur avatar, wearing Gucci… you see where I’m going with this?
Think about it as a place of infinite possibilities, an interconnected web of virtual universes where our digital avatar can wander around purchasing virtual art, attending virtual shows, maintaining virtual relationships, and on it goes (this is where web3 will play a VITAL role, but for my next piece.)
Ultimately, the metaverse is to VR what the smartphone is to those brick mobile devices of the 80s, but x 10000000.
Until today, the single and select groups that have gotten a taste at aspects of the metaverse are hardcore gamers or blockchain junkies (both, I assume, will make metaverse aristocracy down the line.) Otherwise, the metaverse has been left to the annals of freaky sci-fi movies where megalomaniacs use it to rule over society as they ‘mWahahaha!!’ freakishly in the back.
Well, we are still far away from the metaverse (or any very real, very scary consequences that will go hand in hand), but with 3D software engines speeding up, computer chips, processors, and all that jazz developing at a speed like we’ve never seen before, we are undeniably on the metaverse path….
Enter Zuck and his ‘Meta’ vision. As expected, the announcement of Facebook rebranding as ‘Meta’ and initiating its move from a social media platform to a metaverse had people doubled down in laughter or up in arms. After all, as Packy McCormick in his ingenious newsletter ‘Not Boring’ writes,
‘It’s hard to imagine Meta as good for us if you just look at Facebook today, statically. Taking Facebook and making it 3D and immersive would blow. Imagine living inside this hellhole’
However, he goes on to write that, while the idea of Facebook being the metaverse is daunting, Facebook with its unlimited resources, could play an important role in “expanding the GDP of the metaverse”, building and improving the overwhelmingly pricey tech over many years that will eventually usher in the metaverse era.
Of course, there are those not buying into the metaverse hype, be it in the name of fear, fear for the kind of distorted reality it will introduce to our already fragile senses of self, or be it the fantastical nature of a distant reality we may never reach.
Janet Murray, a professor of digital media at the Georgia Institute of Technology did not mince her words when she said,
“There’s a very vague fantasy at the base of this . . . This sense that technology will magically provide this alternate thing, and there will be some way to make a lot of money out of it, because technology has provided things that we didn’t think were possible before, and people made a lot of money out of those.”
Ultimately, while it’s too early to know anything for sure - how quickly the metaverse will form, whether it will change life as we know it or affect an elite group of people, if it will bring with it an array of dark consequences for our future selves to contend…. it is increasingly hard to argue that it is on its way. Maybe at snail pace, but it is on its way, and Zuck committing to spending $10 billion on AR, VR and related hardware this year alone is only one small piece of the puzzle.
And with that, it’s time to get educated people!