The Man, the Myth, and the Metaverse
Even Mark Zuckerberg Excited about the changing world values in the metaverse in 87 minutes last month, his Connect 2021 keynote most honest and telling moment came with a disclaimer that appeared before he started speaking. “Actual consequences may differ materially than those expressed or implied in our expected statements,” it reads. “We have no obligation to update or publicly release the results of any changes to these future statements.”
Good printing isn’t just a legal caveat that forgives the company’s liability against anyone who doesn’t know between fiction designs and product launches (sorry everyone is throwing up their chess board, preparing to play a holographic opponent). It’s also a caveat for Facebook’s claimed purpose, now Meta, which Zuckerberg praised in his presentation. He suggested that Meta be a team player, relying on the language of openness and interoperability; that his company a metaverse company, joins Facebook’s foremost. But the actual results, the disclaimer reminds, may vary. Likewise, while Zuckerberg describes the metaverse as “the next platform” in a seamless line from desktop to network to mobile computing, we should be concerned that his intended metaverse is “the final platform. ” Zuckerberg’s account of the metaverse as the culmination of information technology has power because it reinforces a larger myth of progress; a myth that dates back to the 19th century and shaped Silicon Valley’s self-understanding. It is also a myth of domination, extermination, and violence. Surprisingly, the concept of the metaverse as the final platform abruptly ends the myth of progress, very strongly due to its openness. Inadvertently, Zuckerberg gave critics and enthusiasts the opportunity to create new accounts.
VR, and the metaverse it can be today, has long been considered the ultimate or final destination in the evolution of computing. It was first aired in 1965 in a short but memorable role by Ivan Sutherland, a scientist ahead of computer graphics, who envisioned what he called “The Ultimate Display.” It is “a mirror to look into the mathematical wonderland” that activates all the senses of the body. Users who pass through this viewing glass will be immersed in “a room where the computer can control the existence of the object. A chair displayed in such a room is enough property … a bullet displayed in such a room can be deadly. In 1968, Sutherland built Sword of Damocles, a behemoth head-mounted display widely recognized as the first VR prototype.
Decades later, in a 2015 TED talk, the The founder of VR company Within, Chris Milk, echoed the “ultimate” of VR mythos when he described VR as “the ultimate empathy machine,” capable of making the West rich felt deeper for the less fortunate. In a blog post A year later, Milk called VR “the last medium” because it removes the external frame (limited screen) and activates the mediated experience within us— “the embedded internet,” as described by Zuck in his keynote. VR is a platform, Milk wrote, “for sharing our inner selves – our humanity.” In October 2021, Meta announced that it had purchased Within, not for its humanitarian VR experiences, but for its pandemic popular Supernatural fitness app.
Inside is just the latest in Facebook coverage that believes in the “ultimate” dimension of VR. Facebook acquired Oculus for $ 2 billion in 2014. In a 2015 time cover story about Oculus founder Palmer Luckey, he is described as in love with Neal Stephenson Snowfall, the novel in which the “metaverse” was created. However, according to Luckey, a book is limited only by the “stimulus it provides.” VR, on the other hand, “is the ultimate platform” whose sensory experiences are one day infinite.