Metaverse isn’t here yet, but it already has a long history

PRI ESPL INT .SANFRANCISCO FES11 METAVERSE Metaverse isn’t here yet, but it already has a long history By Tom Boellstorff, University of California San Francisco, August 15 (The Conversation) Nattie’s Metaverse romance started with anonymous text messages. At first, C only admitted to living in a nearby town. Nattie eventually learned that Clem was a man with a lonely office job like his. Because Nattie lived in two worlds, so to speak, the world of boredom in the office and an online world where she had no shortage of social connections. The text brought them closer: problems eased because she told him and he brushed it off. Nattie soon realized that she had woven a kind of romance around him who was so close to a friend and yet so far away”. Their blossoming relationship almost fell apart when Clem’s colleague visited Nattie’s office pretending to be Clem, but the deception was revealed in time for their dot-and-dash romance to succeed. With that last sentence, I revealed the end of Wired Love, the source of the quotes above. Published in 1879, Ella Thayer’s novel about the telegraphic world makes some remarkable predictions. Yet Wired Love is firmly rooted in the era of what journalist Thomas Standage has aptly called the Victorian Internet. Many aspects of the current metaverse were already known 143 years ago. What’s old is new History is more than fun facts: it profoundly shapes ways of thinking and acting. As an anthropologist who has studied virtual worlds for nearly two decades, I have found that the metaverse’s rich past shapes what too often seems unprecedented. It is not accidental. The contemporary metaverse is predominantly owned and developed by companies whose profit models require a focus on the next big thing. This usually sets history aside with massive economic and social implications. At its core, the metaverse is defined by the concept of a virtual world. As Wired Love illustrates, the telegraph and later the telephone were the first virtual worlds. Multi-user dungeons, or MUDs, appeared in the second half of the 20th century. These virtual worlds appeared on local computer networks in the late 1970s and entered dial-up Internet services in the 1980s and 1990s. Richard Bartle, co-creator of the first MUD, noted that in 1993, more than 10% of all Internet traffic was on MUDs. Virtual worlds with graphics, including avatars, date back to Habitat, launched in 1985. With the advent of broadband in the 2000s, many key aspects of the modern metaverse have been established. Longtime metaverse observers such as Wagner James Au have repeatedly pointed out how new developments have revived longstanding debates. Real Estate and the Laws of Virtual Physics Consider what the history of the Metaverse reveals about virtual real estate. Experts are excited about the virtual land rush and emphasize location. For example, the virtual world The Sandbox sells lots for about $2,300, but in December 2021, someone paid $450,000 to buy land next to a virtual mansion owned by rap star Snoop Dogg. Why the price increase? Co-founder Sebastien Borget explained that The Sandbox has a limited number of plots and people can only access adjacent plots. So few people can own virtual land next to Snoop Dogg. I think The Sandbox is deeply indebted to the virtual world of Second Life, where spaces to practice building have been called sandboxes since its launch in 2002. Second Life originally had point-to-point (P2P) teleportation. You can get anywhere in an instant. But in 2003, Linden Lab, the company that owns Second Life, disabled P2P. Residents trying to reach a destination would spawn at the nearest telecom hub. This has had an impact on real estate. Valuable for business and entertainment, plots of land near telehubs fetched a premium until 2005, when Linden Lab suddenly announced the end of telehubs and the return of P2P. The land near the old telecom hubs no longer had any special value; some people have lost thousands of dollars. The most powerful owner can’t change the laws of physics, but Linden Lab could literally recode the rarity out of existence. Fast forward almost 20 years. Lots next to Snoop Dogg’s virtual mansion are rare: a lot can cost $450,000 because The Sandbox doesn’t have P2P. But if the company suddenly added P2P, that $450,000 investment could become almost worthless. That pundits have tended to ignore this fact reveals the danger of forgetting the history of the Metaverse. Sensory or social immersion? Another example of the importance of metaverse history involves the idea of ​​virtual environments. Virtual worlds don’t just connect places; they are places in their own right. People played chess using the telegraph 150 years ago; these virtual chessboards were not located at either end of the wire. In 1992, Bruce Sterling noted that phone calls do not take place to your phone or the other person’s phone. They take place in a virtual environment: the place between the phones. The undefined place where you two, two people, actually meet and communicate. In 1990, the founders of Habitat concluded that the metaverse was defined more by the interactions of the people who lived there than by the technology that created it. They were particularly skeptical of virtual reality technologies, noting that the almost mystical euphoria that currently seems to surround all this hardware is, in our opinion, both exaggerated and somewhat misplaced. The problem isn’t the potential of virtual reality, but the Matrix-like idea that sensory immersion is necessary for the metaverse in any case. The most important distinction is between sensory immersion and social immersion. The idea that virtual environments require virtual reality misunderstands immersion. It is also skillful as not everyone can see or hear. The history of the Metaverse indicates that social immersion is the foundation of the Metaverse. Learn from History The Metaverse has a long way to go, but it already has a long history. Proximity and immersion are just two examples of crucial topics that this story can demystify. This is important because the current rampant mystification is not accidental. The new version of the metaverse is majority owned and developed by Big Tech. These companies seek to create the perception that the metaverse is new and futuristic. But the metaverse stories are real; they can reveal past mistakes and contribute to better virtual futures. (The conversation) AMS AMS 08151252 NNNN

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