What follows is the transcript for a GIIDE entry, audio storytelling softward that makes audio fully interactive.
I’ve seen so many articles and posts and pontifications and prognostications and just, well HYPE, about what the Metaverse means, since Mark Zuckerberg brought the concept into the public eye last fall with the Meta name change. Linkedin has caught FIRE with all of the experts.
I’m generally speaking, hype averse – so have avoided adding my voice to the melee until now. As they say about opinions…everyone has one. And I certainly have my own – and thought, maybe, after all the initial hype has died down a bit, this would be a good time to actually say what I think it means.
But first, a short history. The concept of the Metaverse has been around for quite some time now, and the word itself was coined in the book “snow crash” by Neal Stephenson back in 1992 (30 years ago!). Basically he envisioned the future as a virtual reality-based successor to the internet, which in some ways spatial computing definitely is. In Snow Crash, people use digital avatars of themselves to explore the online world, often as a way of escaping a dystopian reality.
I have to admit – and this is HERESY in my world – I was never a fan of the book and have never actually got all the way through, as I’m not a fan of dystopianism. But it was a huge hit, and continues to be a name that’s often brought up.
So what is this “metaverse” we’re now talking about?
For me it’s not about virtual reality per se. It’s about a bunch of technologies, working together, to bring us another dimension of interaction about and beyond what our physical bodies can do. Virtual reality – or, complete immersion in an alternative environment – is one. And yes, with avatars that are extensions of ourselves.
But there’s also augmented reality: bringing things into the real world, and overlaying them onto it. Objects, sounds, information – all an extra layer or experience that enhances the physical. I’m personally a big fan of Microsoft’s term “mixed reality” because it really describes how it’s a spectrum of realities, that go from complete immersion to lightly overlaying the physical world.
Neither of these will seamlessly integrate into our day without artificial intelligence feeding how these things work in context; no one wants 1000 things jumping out at us as we walk down the street. There needs to be a layer that acts as an intelligent mediator, gatekeeper and general personal concierge; this is table stakes in this game.
AI will also facilitate intelligent conversation with a brand’s avatar ambassador, for example, who you will be able to chat with using natural language.
And finally – blockchain technology adds a transaction layer over (or under) all of these things, enabling you to credibly identify who you’re talking to, or let you buy and own things in the virtual world. Cryptocurrencies and NFT enabled digital items, built using blockchain technology, will allow you to personalize your virtual experience with items that are personal to you, whether it’s in a completely immersed space, or one that’s adding data to the world you see around you.,
That, to me, is where the metaverse lives. Not in one destination, a “let’s go to the metaverse” kind of a thing, but in the sum total of all the ways you interact with your spatial data. Everyone’s metaverse will be their own, personal one that they create by engaging with and permissioning various parts of this experience. Just as the virtual world is intangible, so will the magic web of additional data we weave around us be something amorphous – and personal.
We are so. far. away from this vision technically. So many companies are trying to put up walled gardens, and interoperability will be key to making this work. But As Tony Parisi said in his epic “Seven rules of the metaverse” it cannot be owned. And that’s because there is no one entity supplying it; it’s your choices that make it real to you. It exists, and always will exist, as a concept that describes an intangible extra dimension of experiences; and I for one love the idea that we can create a life that’s enriched with additional connection and experiences above and beyond the physical limitations that humanity has always had.
It’s time to fly.