The Metaverse Is A Great Technology, but Bigger


Like the religious prophets, The big Tech luminaries are preaching on coming to the next internet. According to their gospel—blog posts by tech companies and FIRM capitalists the same — cyberspace tomorrow will be empyrean, transcendent, immersive, 3D, and all foldable, the different sites and services we live and die for by gathering under one love. It will be a super-platform that brings together sub-platforms: social media, online video games, and ease of life apps, all accessible through the same digital space and sharing the same digital economy.

Virtual reality companies say you can get there via VR headsets, while augmented reality companies say you can wear AR smart goggles. And with childish enthusiasm for science fiction emphasizing their godliness, these preachers call this vision metaverse, after Neal Stephenson’s 1992 dystopian novel Snowfall.

Back when Stephenson writes his book, the web is a tiny little planet connected only by the gravitational force of server technology. New developers are building new websites using HTML and HTTP. Soon, Friends fan sites and Texas Internet Consulting pages separately hung from beautiful GeoCities.coms full of Broadway lyrics. From this sprawling solar system were born web browsers like Mosaic and then Netscape to solve the problem of organizing and gathering information.

The metaverse, like the one originally conceived by Stephenson, focuses around a three-dimensional digital path with virtual real estate, where users ’avatars can loiter, party, and do business, find places and each other. It is run by a company called Global Multimedia Protocol Group, which makes its money acting as the backbone of 3D cyberspace.

Starry-eyed futurists in the ’90s took the idea of ​​face value, incarnating users as avatars in isolated cyberspaces like Activeworlds. The other half of the vision — the important half — connects to cyberspaces, and they can’t.

A metaverse must be interoperable; The digital services associated with it have to come together, like a blanket, to form its fabric. Matthew Ball, a venture capitalist with written regularly in the metaverse, says, “Interaction effectively requires companies to relinquish their control over proprietary formats, or otherwise adopt open sources.”

In the early 2000s, a bloom of open source metaverse projects emerged to solve the problem of sewing into existing virtual worlds. If the code is free and accessible to everyone, whatever Snowfall fan with some knowledge-how to carve their own alley in the metaverse. And if the internet remained frozen in its initial form, one could easily imagine the porous, egalitarian metaverse it could have been: A 50-year-old with a Barbie avatar walking straight from her Second Life Dream House to at Sephora.com’s VR boutique, where she bought digital mascara with gold accents World of Warcraft.

But those open metaverse projects are never lost on the ground. “There’s not a lot of enthusiasm for interconnection, in part because there’s really no motive for it,” said Philip Rosedale, founder of Second Life publisher Linden Lab. “We, as a company, are trying to make money.”

In the mid-2000s, it became clear that money was not in building individual websites; it was to create information sorters, channels, aggregators, and publishers — open enough to measure user-generated content, but closed enough to reap huge revenue. “Some online services have a truly global user base and after that have grown a global infrastructure dedicated to optimizing their needs,” said Carl Gahnberg, a senior consultant. in Internet Society policy.

This is the evolution from Web 1.0 to Web 2.0. For nearly 30 years, the weight of consolidation has consolidated cyberspace under the stewardship of shrinking and shrinking corporate titans. Strangely small planets come together, collide, form larger planets, collide again, form stars, or even black holes. Facebook eats Instagram and WhatsApp; Amazon swallowed two dozen ecommerce sites. And you are left with these few supermassive players who control and appropriate the celestial movement of billions of users. This is how Big Tech has become big.



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