Explained: What is the metaverse and what will it mean for you?

Euronews

Meta has recently announced plans to build a metaverse, a fully realised immersive virtual social world.   –   Copyright  Canva

What do you think the next version of the Internet will look like?

In the wake of Meta’s recent announcement that they’re pivoting from developing social media platforms to building what it’s calling the next iteration of the web, the hot word on everyone’s lips is “metaverse”.

The term itself is nothing new, having been originally coined by Sci-Fi author Neal Stephenson in his 1992 novel ‘Snow Crash’.

Stephenson imagined the metaverse as a shared and connected universe within which digital avatars of people could interact with one another and where status is determined by the sophistication of one’s avatar.

Though the company formerly known as Facebook is unlikely to take on the dystopian tones of Stephenson’s novel, their vision of the metaverse hews roughly to this concept – a shared and connected virtual world where you can learn, work, shop, meet people, play and create.

Early versions of the metaverse

While Meta’s announcement has arguably made the biggest splash in this space, they are far from the first or only organisation working on building this new digital world.

Early versions of the metaverse emerged in the early noughties, most notably Second Life from San Francisco-based company Linden labs. At its peak in 2007, this particular virtual world had an estimated 800,000-900,000 active users.

Video games like Fortnite and Roblox, and virtual social worlds like Decentraland can all be considered part of the metaverse already.

“When Facebook talks about building the metaverse, if you follow this space on Twitter, for example, use, you would have seen a lot of backlash… talking about OK with the metaverse has already been built, and it is very active and has a lot of communities and a lot of users in the various virtual worlds,” Dave Carr, the communications lead for Decentraland, told Euronews Next.

“If you look at the metaverse as an expanded experience, then you are looking at the different blockchains and the guilds of gamers and the communities of NFTs like Bored Ape Yacht Club,” he added.

“There is a lot more going on then than simply ‘that’s the metaverse. That’s a metaverse’. It’s all part of the one metaverse”.

Where the Meta metaverse is likely to set itself apart from other contenders is the abundant resources they will be able to plough into the development of this new “embodied internet”.

There is a lot more going on then than simply ‘that’s the metaverse. That’s a metaverse’. It’s all part of the one metaverse…

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