The metaverse is a network of ever-active virtual environments in which many people can interact with each other and with digital objects while operating virtual representations, or avatars, of themselves. Think of a combination of immersive virtual reality, to Massively multiplayer online role-playing video game and the web.
The metaverse is a science fiction concept that many people in the tech industry envision as the successor to today’s Internet. Right now, it’s just a vision, but tech companies like Facebook aim to make it the stage for many online activities, including work, play, study, and shopping. Facebook is so convinced of the concept that renaming himself Meta to highlight your drive to dominate the metaverse.
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Metaverse is an acronym for meta, which means transcendent, and verse, of the universe. Science fiction novelist Neal Stephenson coined the term in his 1992 novel “Snow crashTo describe the virtual world in which the protagonist, Hiro Protagonist, socializes, buys and defeats the enemies of the real world through his avatar. The concept predates “Snow Crash” and was popularized as “cyberspace” in William Gibson’s groundbreaking 1984 novel “Neuromancer. ”
There are three key aspects of the metaverse: presence, interoperability, and standardization.
Presence is the feeling of really being in a virtual space, with other virtual ones. Decades of research have shown that this sense of incarnation improves the quality of online interactions. This sense of presence is achieved through virtual reality technologies, such as head-mounted displays.
Interoperability means being able to seamlessly travel between virtual spaces with the same virtual assets, such as avatars and digital items. ReadyPlayerMe allows people to create an avatar that they can use in hundreds of different virtual worlds, even in Zoom meetings through apps like Animaze. In the meantime, blockchain technologies like CRYPTOCURRENCY and non-fungible tokens Facilitate the transfer of digital goods across virtual borders.
Standardization is what enables interoperability of platforms and services across the metaverse. As with all media technologies, from print to text messaging, common technology standards are essential for widespread adoption. International organizations such as Open metaverse interoperability group define these standards.
Why the metaverse matters
If the metaverse becomes the successor to the Internet, who builds it and how, it is extremely important for the future of the economy and society as a whole. Facebook aims to play a leadership role in shaping the metaverse, in part by investing heavily in virtual reality. Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook explained in an interview their view that the metaverse encompasses non-immersive platforms like today’s social media, as well as immersive 3D media technologies like virtual reality, and that it will be for work as well as playing.
The metaverse could one day resemble Ernest Cline’s flashy fictional Oasis “Ready Player One, “But until then you can resort to games like Fortnite and Roblox, virtual reality social media platforms such as VRChat and AltspaceVRand virtual work environments such as Immersed for a sample of the immersive and connected experience of the metaverse. As these siled spaces converge and become increasingly interoperable, keep an eye out for a truly unique metaverse to emerge.
This article has been updated to include Facebook’s announcement on October 28, 2021 that it will be changing its name to Meta.