Metaverse occurs without permission from Meta

Metaverse occurs without permission from Meta

By changing the name of its parent company to Meta, Facebook was putting a stake in the field: it would be the symbol of the evolution of the Internet, the metaverse. Whether we like it or not.

According to Meta, the metaverse is “a set of digital spaces for socializing, learning, playing, and more.” Its first real attempt came in the form of Horizon Worlds, a virtual reality universe so lifeless and devoid of content that people wonder if the metaverse is a step forward or backward.

Fortunately, that won’t matter.

The metaverse, a term long before Facebook existed, is happening. Its potential and appeal are in existing places – games like Fortnite, platforms like Roblox, and online hubs like Discord. There will be no launch of the metaverse, no switch that activates it. You have experienced parts of it, whether you realize it or not. More and more, your real identity has become mixed with your digital identity. IRL to URL, and vice versa.

The metaverse is not what you read

Obviously, the Metaverse is not what Meta says it is.

“A collection of digital spaces for socializing, learning, playing and more” accurately describes today’s apps and games, but this simplified definition has made the term “metaverse” synonymous with stilted software like Horizon Worlds, a painfully 3D world without imagination with early 2000s-vintage graphics and plenty of space for advertisements.

Empty 3D world with large digital billboards with advertisements on them, digital art, Y2K aesthetic. Source: DALL-E

For those not deep in the weeds of writer Matthew Ball’s precise definition, the Metaverse can be seen as a shift in how we perceive and experience our digital lives – not a 3D world, but a passage to a more immersive, simultaneous and representative relationship. between our physical and digital selves. The metaverse is blurring the line between the real and the digital, an evolution of change triggered by the mobile internet.

So naturally, the Metaverse will not thrive because of Meta’s isolated, soulless dystopia. Nor will it in Decentraland’s attempt to create a digital world, which is garnering no more attention than a moderately popular indie game after two years and billions of dollars in funding.

Related: Facebook is on a quest to destroy the metaverse and the Web3

It’s no surprise: Horizon Worlds and Decentraland compete with digital escapes that are exponentially more fun – games, movies and social media.

And even more directly, they compete with the real world. If you’re telling people they’re going to work and play in the metaverse, you better offer something magical beyond their normal lives. Right now, the meat space always wins. It’s not even close.

The metaverse needs magic

This magical feeling has always been present in games. Visiting your feline neighbor in Animal Crossing is infinitely more compelling than seeing your legless colleague at a conference table in Horizon Worlds. Making immersive experiences engaging requires that magic, and it’s hard to create a company culture that can generate fun, if not impossible when your revenue comes from generating more clicks – or any call to action that exists in 3D.

3D platforms like Roblox and VRChat have instead paved the way for creators to bring their own, albeit narrow, magic. Spending time on VRChat vs Horizon Worlds shows the difference between a user-generated world and a corporate world. The first is human and surprising, while the second is depressing and expected.

But creators must be motivated to create in a specific medium – and have the tools to do so. The old way of incentivizing creators with sponsorship is toxic and on the way out. Creative people don’t want to restrict their views of business profits or limit their options with platform restrictions.

Fortunately, there is another way.

The metaverse needs ownership

Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) have been widely seen as empowering the consumer, acting as a means for the actual ownership to be held by the collector, not the platform. And all of this is true.

But ownership has a different effect on creators: it motivates them. Rather than creating content for other platforms or ads for brands, their work is instantly and indefinitely monetizable. And in the rare but best scenarios, it’s handled in a truly decentralized way, far from deception.

Decentralization and ownership provide that critical motivator for creators – the people who should define what the metaverse looks like. Tokenization frees creators from the bondage of current rent-seeking social networks (think Instagram or Snapchat), allowing them to create and sell their work without needing brand sponsorship to feed themselves. The protocols built for decentralization will be where creators naturally gravitate, creating cutting-edge spaces and defining what creativity means in the metaverse. Gentrification can come later.

Related: Facebook and Twitter will soon be obsolete thanks to blockchain technology

Instead of giving power and freedom to creators, Meta is structured to think advertising revenue and brand partners first, a strategy that is actively hostile to creators and users in general.

A direct relationship between creators and their communities (an increasingly blurred distinction) creates a new trust, and the foundation of that relationship is what will usher in an awesome metaverse. The “grey space” where creators and communities meet – an idea espoused by David Bowie – results in an entirely different dynamic and experience than where the central relationship of a platform is the relationship between the owner of the platform and its advertisers.

A futuristic green city painted by a brush held by an artist, digital art. Source: DALL-E

The metaverse needs context

Truth be told, creating this magic in the metaverse is a challenge, even with digital ownership and the right motivation. Even the best 3D worlds and digital hangouts fail to connect in any meaningful way to our real lives. NFTs have yet to impact the physical world beyond their financial impact. We didn’t bring the URL back to IRL.

But the signs are there.

Related: Nodes will dethrone tech giants – from Apple to Google

Mixed reality games like Pokémon Go, which bring iconic digital characters into augmented reality, show a centralized approach to an immersive digital world built on top of the physical world. Bridging our inherent connection to our digital collectibles, like Psyduck, into our real lives is where the metaverse can achieve new relevance.

Alone, the contextual version of the metaverse is also threatened by centralization and the attention economy – and must be paired with decentralization and a creator ethos. Empowering creators to define reality itself will create a future that enhances our lives instead of depriving them.

The Metaverse Happens

Metaverse is happening and it won’t look like Meta’s version.

The Metaverse is not a specific technology but an era where we have an altered perception of the role of technology in our lives. One where digital realities represent a greater part of our shared reality and where the pure use of technology is replaced by creation, possession and experience. The more these digital realities become tactile and connected to us, the more real the metaverse becomes.

Protocols, not platforms. Creators, not brands. Context, not isolation. Principles and people will define this next evolution of the Internet, and Meta is not the arbiter of either.

Alex Herry is co-founder of Anima, a dynamic and proprietary augmented reality protocol. Before Anima, he created products and games used by billions of people with companies like Epic Games, HBO and his former startup Ultravisual, which was acquired by Flipboard.

This article is for general informational purposes and is not intended to be and should not be considered legal or investment advice. The views, thoughts and opinions expressed herein are those of the author alone and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions of Cointelegraph.

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