Wiser! #45 (Premium): All of a sudden, everyone is talking about the Metaverse. Thanks Meta! In this 2 part series, Part 1 explained what it is and Part 2 looks at what it does.

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In Part 1 I covered Facebook's rebranding to Meta and a 101 on "what the Metaverse is". This gave you an entry point into the subject, albeit a subject which is still a bit abstract, a bit conceptual and, frankly, a bit nuts in places.

The Metaverse Part 1; Facebook’s big bet
Wiser! #43 (Premium): When Facebook, the world’s largest social network, renames to “Meta”, it positions the Metaverse as the Next Computing Platform, aka Web3, the next generation of the Internet.

However, you now know that when I talk about "the Metaverse", you know I'm talking about the coming together of a whole bunch of new technologies that are the key components of this next generation of the Internet. These include cryptocurrencies, decentralised systems like blockchain, NFTs (non-fungible tokens), DAOs (decentralised autonomous organisations) and DeFi (decentralised finance). Plus virtual reality and augmented reality, with digital wearables like smart glasses, haptic gloves and headsets. And of artificial intelligence and avatars that run on super fast 5G networks running virtual worlds with virtual assets that you can't physically touch but can still own, sell and make money with.

Yep, it all sounds a bit nuts!

The context for this is that our experiences on the Internet have evolved from being text-based in the early days (pre-2005/6), to becoming video-based in the era of the iPhone (upto today), and now transitioning to immersive-based as we enter the Metaverse generation, aka Web3.

Gaming has proven to be the breeding ground and natural starting point for this next generation of the Internet. Earlier this year I reported in Wiser! how Epic Games had raised $1 billion to invest in developing its vision for the Metaverse. Epic Games are behind the immersive game called Fortnite, arguably the best example of the Metaverse today. Last year, Epic Games made $5 billion from Fortnite (which is why they were pretty keen to get Apple to change its pricing policy for the App Store.)

If you know any teenage kids, you'll probably be aware that for many of them their social interaction with their best friends is done whilst playing games online. Note the key words being "social" and "interaction". In my day, teenagers would be outside playing with their friends, honing their social skills as they played and interacted in small friendship groups.

Nowadays, the kids are learning their social skills from behind a Playstation, each one of them in their own bedroom wearing headphones and fiddling with their games console. To this generation this is a perfectly normal way to interact with their friends. However, I struggle to see how this is going to play out in terms of adolescent development. What are the unintended consequences of reduced physical interaction during this important developmental period of their lives? (Boys and girls and their courtship during this wonderfully naive, innocent and awkward stage of their development is one issue that comes to mind.)

Anyway, that genie is already out of the bottle, so back to the Metaverse!

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The way NOT to think of the Metaverse is as (simply) a 3D virtual reality world. The mental leap you have to make is to imagine a more immersive experience on the Internet than you have today. Remember the bricks that we used to call mobile phones in the 1980s and compare them to the smartphones we use today that carry more computing power than Apollo 11 had to get to the Moon and back. That's the magnitude of the leap we're about to take from today's version of the Internet to the Metaverse.

To bring this to life and create some sense of reality for this virtual world, in this Part 2, I'll take you through some examples of what's going on as the Metaverse takes shape.

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