Metaverse Madness and its meaning

We’ve been surrounded by the constant hype around the metaverse, the Google definition of it is described as: a virtual reality space in which users can interact with a computer-generated environment and other users. It is essentially the next frontier for technology.

The current internet that we’re connected to – be it from our phones to our tablets and laptops, we connect to Web 2.0. The internet as a whole has passed through multiple evolutionary phases: Web 2.0 was the shift from the use of the internet to look up information, to now being used as a platform for user-generated content, and to interact with each other: be it through social media, communities on Reddit or video gaming.

The metaverse concept is based on the future of online interaction. We have currently reached the highest level of experience possible on the current frontier, and now to conquer the next frontier, the world is gearing up for Web 3.0.

Web 3.0 is the third generation of evolution for the internet. The future of technology lies in the metaverse where users can participate as avatars. This is the basis of the booming cryptocurrency, NFT and innovation investments. NFTs are essentially pieces that you can have verifiable ownership and is the first step to creating your online status symbols. One of the industries predominant presences in the metaverse is fashion. As such, they invest in individual expression in the metaworld where these pieces help them create a realistic version of themselves in the virtual space.

The easiest allusion to metaverse-world is to look at video games. Interactions in the metaverse would mimic the video game world where users interact with one another. Recently, Fortnite held a Balenciaga event, and Timberland opened a shoe factory. LEGO is creating a virtual world to educate and teach children through LEGO. This might seem overwhelming, but what is key is how we view the metaverse as the next step of digital evolution and interaction.

In the late-90s, we were sceptical of the internet’s purpose and usage. Just as the internet has now become the norm, we pre-empt a similar adoption of the metaverse. With any change there is hesitation, and we are at the cusp of exploring the new. Very little is known about the possible applications of the metaverse. For example, there is scope for it to be used to reduce loneliness amongst the aged and immobile by giving them a place to interact and move while being in the same location physically.

With social media creating a new opportunity for influencers and content creator industry, the metaverse holds great scope for exploring and innovating. The reason we see brands and companies investing early on is to be part of the early adopters. Any technological disruption faces an innovation cycle. The metaverse is at the early adoption stage and to prove its applicability and becoming the norm, it needs to cross the ‘chasm’.

SOURCE: WikiMedia Commons

The chasm represents the fundamental threats it may face and the true test of the next big disruption in technology. Some of the threats the metaverse would have to address is availability and safety:

1. Availability: a current but accurate image is that to truly immerse oneself in the metaverse, we require VR headsets and, most definitely, access to the internet. Just as Facebook and Instagram have become commonplace, the metaverse yet has to prove its mettle as the chosen medium for interaction. It may heighten the existing digital divide present in the world and marginalise communities with lack of access to these technologies and create opportunities for those with access and hinder active and complete participation.

2. Safety: Since the technology yet has to gain widespread adoption, not enough is known about its safety. As the metaverse becomes more popular, we would see greater scope for scams and attraction of crime. Just as cryptocurrency thefts have increased, the safety and privacy in the metaverse yet is to be tested.

Overall, we do see how metaverse presents numerous opportunities and it is important to be aware of the ongoings in the world of technology. It is something that if leveraged correctly, can result in your idea being the next big thing.

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