What is Metaverse? Will it put an end to the Internet?

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What is Metaverse


What is Metaverse? Will it put an end to the Internet?

In recent months you may have heard about something called the Metaverse. Maybe you’ve read that the Metaverse is going to replace the Internet. Perhaps we’ll all be depending on it. Maybe Facebook (or Epic or Roblox, or dozens of small companies) is trying to take over the Metaverse.

Unlike many things, we cover on Alalmiya Alhura website and Alalmiya Alhura Blog. However, the Metaverse is tough to explain because it doesn’t necessarily exist.

It’s partly a dream for the future of the Internet and a neat way to encapsulate current online infrastructure trends, including the growth of real-time 3D worlds.

But let’s get to the fun part. Will you start checking your Facebook feed with a pair of augmented reality (AR) glasses? Will your friends invite you to cyber-brunch instead of average brunch? Time to jack in and figure it out.

Neal Stephenson famously coined the term “metaverse” in his 1992 novel Snow Crash 1992, which referred to a 3D virtual world inhabited by avatars of real people.

Other science fiction media include metaverse-like systems (some predating Snow Crash). But Stephenson’s book remains one of the most common reference points for metaverse enthusiasts, along with Ernest Cline’s 2011 science fiction novel Ready Player One.

Snow Crash’s Metaverse is an outgrowth of Stephenson’s satirical corporation-dominated future America, but it’s undeniably depicted as having an excellent side. (The protagonist is a master hacker who gets in fights at a virtual nightclub).

On the one hand, emulating the virtual worlds of Snow Crash or Ready Player One is less deliberately creepy. On the other hand, science fiction stories can conjure a vivid picture of “the metaverse” without illuminating how it should work or why it should exist.

What is Metaverse?

There is no universally accepted definition of a real “metaverse.” Silicon Valley metaverse proponents sometimes reference a description from venture capitalist Matthew Ball, author of the extensive “Metaverse Primer”:

“The Metaverse is an expansive network of persistent, real-time rendered 3D worlds and simulations that support continuity of identity, objects, history, payments, and entitlements, and can be experienced synchronously by an unlimited number of users, each with an individual sense of presence.”

Facebook, arguably the tech company with the most significant stake in the Metaverse, describes it more simply:

“The ‘Metaverse’ is a set of virtual spaces where you can create and explore with other people who aren’t in the same physical space as you.”

There are also broader metaverse-related taxonomies like one from game designer Raph Koster, who distinguishes between “online worlds,” “multiverses,” and “metaverses.”

For Koster, online worlds are digital spaces focused on one central theme, from rich 3D environments to text-based ones. Multiverses are “multiple different worlds connected in a network, which do not have a shared theme or ruleset,” including Ready Player One’s OASIS. And a metaverse is “a multiverse which interoperates more with the real world,” incorporating things like augmented reality overlays, VR dressing rooms for actual stores, and even apps like Google Maps.

Understanding the Metaverse
Understanding the Metaverse

In a press release dated October 17, 2021, Facebook stated that the Metaverse is “a new phase of interconnected virtual experiences using technologies such as virtual reality and augmented reality. At its core is the idea that by creating a greater sense of ‘virtual presence,’ ” online interaction can become much closer to Experience personal interaction.

Interest in the Metaverse is expected to grow exponentially as investors and companies want to be a part of what could be an alternative to the Internet.

“I think this metaverse is going to be a huge part of the next chapter of how the Internet evolves after the mobile Internet, and I think it’s going to be the next big chapter for our company as well,” Zuckerberg said.

Supporters of the Metaverse concept see it as the next stage in developing the Internet. For example, Facebook has already heavily invested in AR and VR, developing devices such as the Oculus VR headset while working on AR glasses and wrist technologies.

Zuckerberg, who believes that augmented reality glasses will one day be as ubiquitous as smartphones, told The Verge that over the next several years, “Facebook will transit from people who see us primarily as a social media company to a metaverse.”

I just read an article that says we will all live in the Metaverse, and I want to know what that means:

Right now, tech industry figures who talk about “the metaverse” are usually excited about digital platforms that include some of the following things:

  • Feature sets that overlap with older web services or real-world activities.
  • Real-time 3D computer graphics and personalized avatars.
  • Various person-to-person social interactions are less competitive and goal-oriented than stereotypical games.
  • Support for users creating their virtual items and environments.
  • Links with external economic systems so people can profit from virtual goods.
  • Designs that seem well-suited to virtual and augmented reality headsets, even if they usually support other hardware.

But in most current discourse, “the metaverse” arguably isn’t a fixed set of attributes. It’s an aspirational term for a future digital world that feels more tangibly connected to our real lives and bodies.

So is FORTNITE a Metaverse? or Facebook horizon? Or is the Metaverse a various set of images?

People like Tim Sweeney (the chief executive officer {CEO} of Fortnite Epic) and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg often say they’re just building one piece of a larger interconnected metaverse, similar to an individual social network on the present-day Internet. “The Metaverse isn’t a single product one company can build alone or monopoly. Just like the Internet.”

If you like Koster’s “multiverse” definition, several standalone multiverses exist. Microsoft’s Minecraft gets less hype than Roblox these days, but it enables similar activities through modding. So do lower-profile services like The Sandbox, which incorporates a complex cryptocurrency-based economy.

MetaVerse zone
Special Considerations

Numerous science fiction books, television series, and movies are set in metaverses—digital worlds indistinguishable from the real world. Science fiction author Neal Stephenson coined the term “metaverse” in his 1992 novel Snow Crash.

For example, in a blog post, Niantic Chief Executive Officer (CEO) John Hanke wrote that “A lot of people these days seem very interested in bringing this near-future vision of a virtual world to life, including some of the biggest names in technology and gaming. But these novels served as warnings about a dystopian future of technology gone wrong.”

Niantic is a software developer best known for the augmented reality mobile games Ingress and Pokémon Go. 

The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated interest in the Metaverse as more people have worked from home and gone to school remotely. Of course, there are concerns that the Metaverse will make it even easier for people to spend time apart—even in a post-COVID world.

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