Metaverse: what is it and should we be interested in it?

Works of art sold by NFT at exorbitant prices through blockchain, huge investment in Metaverse, announcement of a new Internet called Web3… no doubt you’ve heard all these new terms that there are bad concepts and that we present as the future of the internet. Concepts that will replace the Web as we know it today, with Gafam (Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft, etc.) and the presence of all social networks. In the midst of all this, the Metaverse seems to be the holy grail, the promise of a new world. But what exactly is it?

To understand the new challenges and the mechanics that are happening, you need to first understand this new concept. An idea that remains complicated to explain for a simple reason: a large part of it all is still the same.a fantasy. A glimpse into the future, first born in science fiction.

Metaverse: a concept born in 1992

The first time the term appeared in the book “The virtual samurai“, Published in 1992 by the American Neal Stephenson. In this book, the author describes a wealthy businessman – a Mark Zuckerberg before his time? – creating a parallel world, where virtual reality and augmented reality mix. And where the ultimate purpose is to control the minds of users.

So the Metaverse is a parallel, immersive, three-dimensional world, a virtual world but with real interactions. It’s a world where everyone can thrive, through an avatar or a hologram. It is also a universe where the types of activities are very different: play, work, talk, learn, and so on.

What exactly is the Metaverse?

Matthew Ball, subject matter specialist and author of a book on the subject, lists the characteristics of a Metaverse:

  • The metaverse continues, that is, it does not stop, it is eternal. It cannot be stopped or reset. It is permanent.
  • It is together and alive. Everyone has the same metaverse experience, in real time. And this, even if some events can be programmed and occur autonomously.
  • The metaverse is a computer-generated universe. It is a complete environment, with no augmented reality overlays.
  • The metaverse has no limits. Everyone can participate, there is no maximum size (which can be a problem because it is necessary to know how to manage this increase in load at the infrastructure level if the event grows quickly). Matthew Ball talks about a metaverse where there is “no ceiling”.
  • It’s an economy like any other. Fully usable, it empowers anyone to own property, buy and sell, create “value”, invest, and more.
  • There is no one metaverse and this virtual universe does not belong to Meta/Facebook. Like blockchain and NFTs, the metaverse is a decentralized phenomenon. There is no authority in this virtual reality but different entities that may or may not be compatible with each other.
  • Metaverses will offer a variety of interoperability, although it is not clear how fast the gates between each universe are. The blockchain and NFT system should allow a certain fluidity but it is still possible that those imagining their own metaverse will try to keep this universe in a vacuum. It won’t be very interesting when that happens. It is expected that these different virtual worlds will connect, but there is no guarantee. If they thrive in silos, it could end in a bitter failure.
  • Everyone has the imagination of the metaverse. Actually, companies are already appropriating this new El Dorado but, because of its decentralized aspect, everyone is able to create their own content and their own metaverse experiences. And thus change the game at his level.

Guaranteed success? No warranty

Right now, the metaverse is above all a concept, a projection of the future. If there is already an immersive virtual world (Minecraft, Roblox, World of Warcraft, Fortnite, Animal Crossing, The Sandbox) that differs from the old concepts (the Sims or even Second Life), does not yet guarantee that the concept will succeed.

The fact remains that stakes are just as important to examine the question now, even if it is undoubtedly necessary. wait ten years before the concept is formed. In his campaign program for the 2022 presidential election, however, Emmanuel Macron stressed the importance of European initiatives in metaverse terms.

Now, the challenge is doubled. Metaverse interoperability, first of all, with the decentralization of these immersive virtual worlds so as not to regain the grip of some Internet players, as is the case today with Google, Amazon, Facebook & co. Another challenge: convince people of interest in these virtual worlds. That is still a real challenge today. Mark Zuckerberg’s performance at the Connect 2021 event was far from unanimous.

Meta, the vision of the concept according to Mark Zuckerberg:

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