We now live in a world where interacting daily, moment by moment, on global digital platforms has become a natural, expected and essential part of our lives. Today, we assemble and zoom in on each other in virtual offices, make and share digital art in virtual galleries and museums, play games together, and have a well-being workshop, all online. This can be seen as a growing Metaverse. This Metaverse, however, is still in its infancy. And as Mark van Rijmenam, author and tech expert, warns in a recent interview with Dinis Guarda: “we need to make sure the Metaverse works for us, as humans, not the other way around”.
First steps in the Metaverse
The Metaverse is estimated to reach over $1.53 trillion by 2030 (source: Cointelegraph, PwC) and will grow to include communication and trust from one blockchain to another, expanding over multiple cross-chain-related technologies and virtual world platforms. These will multiply the experiences available to us in our daily lives, which have only ever existed so far in sci-fi movies like Blade Runner, Star Wars, or Star Trek.
What experiences, specifically? These can range from meeting a friend in the Metaverse who lives across the world; to increasingly interactive virtual work calls that transport you into the office without you having to leave the house; taking up a sport from the comfort of your own home and without having to pay a gym membership, or even visiting a new country through immersive online travel. The Metaverse will make all these possible.
This is especially important for the creator community. As Mark van Rijmenam, Metaverse speaker and Tech expert mentioned in a recent interview with Dinis Guarda, it is time that we move to a system of value creation where if someone is putting an effort to create something, they should be rewarded for that content.
"That's where NFTs are so important. Because they allow us to have a different perspective and monetize whatever we create in ways that we want. It's a lot of hard work in an open metaverse to create a fan following, build a community, and market yourself to create a brand. But at least in the open metaverse, those efforts are fully rewarded, instead of handing over 50-70% of the money that you make", he added.
The goal: embodied the Internet?
In a more futuristic vision of a global, “real” Metaverse, this could be called an “embodied Internet” where we would experience a continuous sense of presence within the digital realm. We would be able to hop seamlessly from one activity to another, and from online environments to offline ones. We could embody a whole new persona online, and demonstrate our creativity and originality through our avatar. Furthermore, we would be able to interact with other people, play music, chat, and buy virtual goods, while inside the virtual space. Additionally, we will be able to interact with other avatars or colleagues as if we are in the same room, and seamlessly shift back to the physical world.
Despite reservations from sceptics, it is not far-fetched to prefigure the Metaverse as an embodied internet. Indeed, the Metaverse will just be a part of our physical world, as real as anything else. We will soon be living, working, laughing, exercising, building relationships, and playing games in this simulated reality.
Digital twins in the embodied Internet of the future
One company, DXC Technology is at the forefront of this movement. They recently hosted their annual sales conference - with 1000 staff, together with customers and motivational speakers - in DXC Virtual World, one of the most advanced business Metaverse environments. DXCVirtualWorld is one of the most advanced business Metaverse environments. The campus is set on an island and has exposition halls, auditoriums, classrooms, meeting spaces and even a soccer field, theatre, music venue and beach. Participants moved around, visited project stalls, seminars, and keynote speeches, and interacted socially, much as they would in real life, all without leaving home. This area of the Metaverse will only grow as it progresses.
Rijmenam also warned about the dangers that come with the Metaverse still being in its infancy. We have the responsibility to develop it in an accessible, responsible, open way.
“With the Metaverse, we sort of have this unique opportunity, this one shot, to create an Internet which is there for us, for you, for you and me, for us as humans, and not there for the Big Tech controlling us.
So my book is really meant as a blueprint on how to create this Open Metaverse. What do we need to do to achieve that? And we have to be really careful when we build the Metaverse because don’t forget, when the Internet first arrived, it was very much an Open Internet. When we talk about Web1, the early, early days of the Internet.”
Further, Dinis Guarda has echoed the sentiment that the new Metaverse really needs to work for all.
"An Open Metaverse is where your identity is protected so it can't be deleted, it's private it's about you, it's specific and persistent, community-driven, it's portable, you can take it from one platform to another, and has a self-sovereign identity. I think those are the crucial elements of how you can create an open metaverse.
With the Internet and other technologies still inaccessible to quite a large proportion of global populations. This is the challenge: how are we going to achieve this? We need to make that next shift, the next iteration to make it accessible for everyone."
We have become the subjects in the great ongoing experiment of virtual society. Across Facebook, TikTok, YouTube, to more niche platforms like Fortnite, Second Life, Decentraland and countless others, we are readily communicating and stimulating each other remotely, through interactions that are, for the most part, emotionally indistinguishable from experiences in the ‘real’ physical world. What we need to do next, is to make sure this new Metaverse works for us, as humans. Not for the Big Tech companies.
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