GUEST COMMENT The Metaverse Is Coming – Don’t Panic – Guest Comment

Metaverse is on its way – but should you not care? Yes. Metaverset has the potential to change the way we access and think about the Internet in the future; your everyday life will probably be different in a few years because of it. There’s a lot of metavers hysteria going on right now, and thinking about what’s next is a very profitable move for many companies. And a few facts under your belt could provide good protection against the current level of metavers hysteria.

What is Metaverse?

Metaverse is a virtual digital world where interconnected platforms replicate and enhance real-time experiences or create new digital and hybrid services. If it did not help to clarify things, then let’s back up a bit – context will help with understanding.

The first time I tried the internet, I saw green text codes on a black screen through a very noisy dial-up modem. It was Internet 1.0, or the first incarnation of it: it had hyperlinks and linked publicly available databases. There are millennials who will find it hard to understand what I just described.

It took until the late 1990s for web browsers, graphical interface with images, colors, audio and possibly video. We call it today the Internet: first a PC-based interface, but today more commonly a smartphone-based two-dimensional display experience.

For experts, this was followed up in the mid-2010s Web 2.0 or the social element of the web – social networks, for example. The web was not just a store of content, but a platform to “meet people” and create content and services. The concept of the cloud fits well here.

Internet 3.0 is now emerging as a new form where AI and Blockchain can eliminate intermediaries and make information and services more accessible, more private and potentially more secure. This is still very theoretical and controversial, but it assumes that society will build solutions / services to problems (a distributed architecture) and reduce the dependence on large technology companies running large services for everyone.

The metaverse fits here because it will be a contemporary to Web 3.0 – it refers to user experience rather than a larger role in society or technology. Imagine moving from the two-dimensional experience of a web browser screen to a three-dimensional virtual world where people, businesses and services can create a new presence or identity. You – to be more precise, your “avatar” – would move around the various shops, offices, theaters, meeting places in Metaverse. The avatar will be able to talk to others, listen to concerts, buy items, organize meetings and work, all without having to be physically anything special. Many of them are now available as virtual services without the new 3D interface (web conferencing, video channels, e-commerce site).

It is also worth noting that many of these three-dimensional worlds already exist as games: Second Life, Minecraft and Roblox are great examples of virtual games transformed into virtual worlds.

How would you navigate this new world? Possibly through voice assistants (instead of URLs) and the use of Virtual Reality headsets or Augmented Reality interfaces (which will overlay virtual objects on a smartphone screen pointing to the area next to you.

In the future, people might want to see holograms in front of them instead of VR headsets, and thanks to Web 3.0, digital currency (blockchain) elements and AI assistants will make browsing easier. Yes, it sounds like an episode of Star Trek, but much of the technology we use today would fit well into the original TV series.

Many people confuse elements of Web 3.0 with Metaverse. Expect terminology to be adjusted in the future to provide better clarity and separation. But I expect continued confusion for some years. So far, Metaverse only refers to customer experience elements. But even these are far from simple to deliver.

We do not have a “metavers” yet. The idea of ​​the meta-verse is still based on a similar concept from the World Wide Web – it should be a global interactive platform where interoperable worlds are connected. Currently, there are many meta-islands, or meta-walled gardens, small communities where you can create a service. The global standard for interconnections is missing. We will not see truly global mass adoption of Metaverse services until there is an interconnected model of the digital world.

Reflect

Many companies seem to like the potential of the meta-verse and are happy to be a part of it. But before a hasty move, we suggest you take a moment to reflect. Creating a new Internet experience is an important step: it allows us to look back and see what needs to be adjusted or improved. There is a lot to improve in today’s customer experience before we all start embarking on holograms.

Today, cyberspace is a great tool, but it suffers from major shortcomings. Customers and businesses have no “real” identity on the Internet. A libertarian view would appreciate this, and the possibility of creating secondary or anonymous characters should be supported. But with the story of fraud and digital crime in mind, society must treat identity not as an afterthought, but as a key issue. It is time to make decisions that will have a positive impact on the lives and safety of many people, including vulnerable people and minors.

Navigating the meta-verse today is a traditional experience. To get into Nike’s ‘Metaverse’ experience in Roblox, download the Roblox app, search for Nike (by typing), and then click on a 2D image of Nike that appears in the results. Then you can play basketball against other real players. There are still a lot of old-school web / app interactions in early Metaverse experiences. New models and interface modes are needed to bring a new experience. Otherwise, Metaverse will die after a short, gadget-filled life.

Payments were not designed for the web, and although credit cards are now widely used, it is another afterthought with shortcomings. The concept of web 3.0 will often include a reference to “cryptocurrency”, or more simply digital currencies. In fact, most metaverse platforms have built their own blockchain currency into their system. There is still work to be done there to clarify compliance and safety for most of them. Facebook’s several attempts to create a global digital currency (Libra / Diem) have been crushed by local and global rules. Creating a digital currency requires more than a blockchain solution: the legal framework for real digital currency does not yet exist.

Anticipate

So the future is already here? NIX. But that’s what makes the whole subject of the metaverse so interesting. A new wave of usability improvements is coming, which will change the way we experience the Internet. These may not replace the web as we know it, but they will complement and expand it. We have time to understand, plan, test and deliver a new experience.

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