Welcome to the Metaverse
Last night Foo Fighters performed to a virtual crowd in the metaverse at the Superbowl after party. I don’t have the right equipment to participate so I, and many others, were relegated to watching in good old traditional 2D.
In the beginnings of the internet, we worked in plain text – and fixed width at that. We’d type commands to follow links and many of the actions we associate with todays internet were unthinkable to those not intimately familiar with science fiction.
We then got colour. Then fonts. Then annoying animated GIFs. Then MySpace with it’s automatic song playing on your profile page. Before you know it we had moved from text to streaming interactive video.
This happened in other industries as well. I’ve been around long enough to have LPs and to have watched Black and White TV that finished each night at 10pm. I’ve been lucky enough to see these industries evolve through various forms of media, and with each form of media comes a different way to experience it.
My question, and maybe the question on many people’s minds is if the metaverse is another evolution of the internet and indeed another way of experiencing it. With a decent headset and a freshly minted avatar you can be front row at a concert with your friends. Rather than it’s real-world counterpart, theoretically any number of people can experience the front row at the same time. Stadium concerts where you could only experience Dave and his mates from the back of the cheap seats are now a thing of the past.
While Facebook… ahem Meta… is going with the Metaverse, many others are calling this Web 3.0 or “Spacial Internet”. Whatever we end up calling it, all of the major players are agreeing that this is coming, and eventually it’s going to replace what we know as the internet now. The same as moving from plain fixed width text to a vibrant and interactive web browser experience. It will start with social media and entertainment and eventually move to encompass the entirety of how we use the internet.
My hope is that the large players can all agree on what this technology looks like. With the internet as we know it today, there is a set of protocols that mean what you see in your browser are relatively similar. With the early stages of the metaverse, I think we will see a lot of disparity before it becomes common use.
Once these issues have been solved, work and collaboration will gradually move to the metaverse. As we’ve found out with the pandemic, change is possible and moving from keyboards and screens to VR will be a novelty at first until one day it’s not.
VR and AR devices will become an enabler and eventually a requirement for interacting with the internet. Those who have access now will be ahead of the curve in adopting this technology. As someone who gets nauseous from VR, and also someone who wears glasses, this isn’t an easy step for me now, and I suspect there are many like me.
There is a huge economy building for the metaverse, and it’s happening now. With Crypto being the main form of transactional currency in the metaverse, we will see these technologies becoming entrenched in each other. Companies like Nike are hiring designers, while Meta is estimating it will need 10,000 engineers to build and support it’s version of the metaverse. In and outside of the metaverse could be the next financial boom, or it could be the dot-com era bust.
Because of the decentralised nature of the metaverse there are also major legal and regulatory implications. Cryptocurrency, and ownership through NFTs will be difficult to regulate and for a while, at least, it will be the wild west in the metaverse. For those acting now this means you can take advantage of minimal red tape and maybe less stable costs, all while wearing the risk of losing it all when regulatory bodies start to find a way to apply their rules. Even when this does happen, it’s unclear how rules will be enforced other than terms and conditions similar to what large corporations like Facebook and Google have now.
I think the next decade is going to be exciting and by the time I’ve finished my rant about “back in my day” the kids will be having their first virtual property boom inside the metaverse.