It is a bit like when the Internet first arrived. Everybody spoke about all the information, all the wisdom becoming accessible for everyone. About complete transparency, about the rise of worldwide equality, justice and democracy. Gosh, how naïve we were. A few decades later we know better. We realized that Meta, Google, Amazon and Co. are the rulers of all of us. But we are back to zero. Kind of.
Yes, there are some companies that already work with technology that will be important for the metaverse. But it looks like there is no one that already has a huge leading edge. There is crypto currency and the Blockchain, a new kind of business but still that's just business. There are NFTs which at least seem to bring new chances for the art and charity area.
And then we have the DAOs, the Decentralized Autonomous Organizations. Their ambitions range from buying a copy of the U.S. constitution to selling virtual land. And somehow we guessed it will be all about money again. Which is okay to a certain extent if it will happen in a less ancient capitalistic way. Which means, this time we need to make sure that our governments understand the meaning of the metaverse and use the regulatory power they have upfront.
The good news is, as my colleague mentioned with a bit of disappointment, technology-wise, we are not there yet. Wearing VR-sets all day long? We have all seen Wall-E so we know pretty well how this could end. Which means, the metaverse will come but it won´t happen tomorrow. Well, that way it could fit perfectly to the pace governmental committees are handling things. Hopefully they learned their lesson being outpaced by Meta and others the last round.
And there is one more important thing. Hopefully our avatars in the metaverse will not have to look like we do in reality. So, if my skin color is green and I have hoofs no one will care because it will be my skill set people are looking for. (Next to my bank account, that will probably stay) And finally it won´t longer be about how people look but about their talents, interests, attitudes.
And if this idea of looking at people and how we treat people trickles into our real life the metaverse might not just mirror our world but will better it step by step. Okay this may sound like the naïve hope from a member of the Optimistic Ape Yacht Club. But one thing is for sure this time: No one can say he didn't know how to master the next webolution the right way.
Dream on, my dear!
The last couple of weeks I thought about what Metaverse is, dived into Decentraland and asked myself: Is this already a game changer and what is in it for me?
First of all: What is the Metaverse? I wanted an easy answer, so I opened Wikipedia (nothing changed since school). Here you find the following explanation: “A metaverse is a network of 3D virtual worlds focused on social connection. In futurism and science fiction, it is often described as a hypothetical iteration of the Internet as a single, universal virtual world that is facilitated by the use of virtual and augmented reality headsets.”
Okay, so far so good. I did some further research on how the big tech companies see the Metaverse. And to make it short – every big player has different definition of the Metaverse. I will spare you the various quotes here. But how can something grow if there is not a common sense on what you want to reach. Is it beneficial that everyone is working towards a slightly different version of the Metaverse? This is probably not a yes or no question. It can help to create diversity, to respect different needs of different groups of people. In team sports, they say that the team itself, with a common goal, a common passion, will always be stronger than one peppered with great talent but lacking cohesion.
I often read that there shall not be any barriers between the different Metaverses. That you can take your Call of Duty weapons to Fortnite and vice versa as an example. That your avatar will have the same clothes (shopped at a luxury brand store for real money) in every space you visit. No matter if it is sandbox, Decentraland or future Metaverses.
This sounds great and I love the idea of compatibility between all these places. Although I do not believe in it right now. The big tech companies aren’t doing anything for the greater good. It is about market position, it's about profit, margin, about money. And data. Having issues of incompatibility with Samsung and Apple on smartphones – anyone who wanted to switch between them and transfer their WhatsApp messages knows what I am talking about – I cannot image that another three to five big players will ease this issue.
Speaking of money. For experiencing the Decentraland it is highly recommended to use VR glasses. Those are still quite expensive and not affordable for everyone. In addition, you need a high-speed internet connection, which still comes along with questionable high prices (at least in Germany).
I do not have VR glasses, but still went for a little walk at Decentraland. And yes, it is easy to get into it by choosing the guest account and just ashort 3-5 minutes later (depends on how much effort you put into creating your character) you are in. Deep diving into the future. Wow. I was excited to walk around, have a look at the characters, at the venues, et cetera. But I quit after 20 minutes. It is not that thrilling yet. It was just like “outside”. A couple of strangers around there and no one is interacting. Although you can play games, visit galleries or go to a casino… it bored me.
What is in for me?
For now – not more than a fancy experience which entertained me some time and might do it a couple times more. I don't see the benefit for me (yet). I am quite okay with my real life. We all have sat at home for 2 years now. I don't want to spend time in any of the Metaverses. I cannot feel the sun warming my skin, the grass tickling my feet in Metaverse. What I do believe in are decentralized technologies and blockchains (not that much in NFTs to be honest). In short: I am curious of all the changes the Web3 will have for us. Metaverses will play their role. Maybe an important one, maybe just as a side hustle. There are so many “if's” at the moment that no one can really foresee. I'd love to see the Metaverse grow, I am curious about the technical innovations and improvements coming along with it, without a doubt. AR and VR can change our lives and make it much more comfortable. But please let this happen in real life. Having in mind that the next generations will just sit at home living, working, meeting and for sure, dating in a digital world, this highly concerns me. I really do not get the benefits of watching an Ariana Grande or Travis Scott concert in pixelated Metaverse instead of having them on my 60+ inch screen in 4k with some professional regisseur making sure that I won't miss any important moment. Not to mention seeing them live on stage.
Let's break it down: Is it the hottest shit on earth?
Yes, it is! Working in marketing or advertising, seeing some of the biggest and most fashionable brands taking their steps into the Metaverse there is no way around. You have to deal with it, and you have to do it right now. Otherwise, you will be late to the party. (Hello, Nokia!). There is a massive potential in it. Both for our personal and business lives. We are at the very beginning, having in mind the iPhone revolution. The iPhone 1 was unveiled to the world on January 9th in 2007. Fifteen years later, this little item organizes our whole life – from health tracking to payments. So let's stay curious for the upcoming!