At first glance, the project seems attractive, one is attracted only by action: grouping to standardize techniques and tools to achieve a goal. For more than five years, all web 3.0 gamers have been calling for fewer internet barriers, fewer closed territories. In a simple announcement, through the press, we were informed to create a forum intended to address one of the main technical issues that conditioned the arrival of the metaverse: interoperability. How can the project not be validated?
However, there is a mistake, the magic does not work perfectly. Why? Maybe it’s the fault of the members of the collective, maybe it’s the Herculean nature of the task at hand, maybe it’s the fear of creating a completely uncontrollable hydra? Definitely a little of this all at the same time.
Logical continuation for GAFAMs
To fully understand who is behind the Metaverse Standard Forum (MSF), we can start by dissecting its head. We were told on the forum site that it would be managed by the Khronos Group. If you’re new to software architecture and image creation, this name probably won’t speak to you. However, Khronos is an organization – in an open and non -profit form – that brings together more than 150 companies that design, implement and promote the use of royalty -free standards. These technical solutions are useful in many areas surrounding the creation and management of images (AR, VR, 3D, machine learning …).
The choice to place the Khronos Group in a leading position in this initiative is not small. Their experience in this area is complete and their image is healthier unlike other forum members who are considered by others to be a real danger to the Internet. In this forum is GAFAM, the last three of them, because Apple and Amazon are not on the list of signatories. There is no doubt that they will use great force to manage this forum, a gravity of scale, an authority of scale.
Google, Microsoft and Meta all have to get in a maneuver like this, by reporting themselves to organizations of smaller caliber, with a different background (collectives, non-profit organizations, etc.), from other ecosystems or have other value models (free software for example). They restore their image by engaging the good works of contributors to a more interoperable metaverse. This is why the logos of the standards that already exist and have development strategies that are often opposed to GAFAM are heavily featured on the MSF home page.
However, you have to look at it from another angle. In recent years, the tide has returned to the side of free software and Internet standards (as well as its infrastructures for that matter). Should we not be hypocritical on these topics, the Internet behemoths and their employees have become major free software contributors, to an extent that some standards appear to have been. GAFAM entities.
That’s the beauty and the problem of free software. The Metaverse Standard Forum is not an isolated case, and what appears to be a marketing strategy on the part of GAFAM is to continue a strategy that began more than a decade ago. The Internet is a complex thing, where the logics of private and free intertwine and make up our devices. So is the metaverse.
However, MSF cannot be a crude marketing operation. If the goal is to achieve greater data interoperability, then perhaps smaller companies (e.g. production agencies, designers, blockchain companies) should use this opportunity to try to work towards a uniform set of standards that also worked for them.
New wild west formats
Keep in mind that interoperability is not a natural condition of complex systems. JPEG had to first face a lot of competitors before it could become a common everyday format and almost become a word for an image on the internet. Few people know more than three image formats. JPEG is fast, shareable and readable anywhere in the world and on any device and operating system.
We’re approaching the metaverse (which will definitely change its name) a new far west of formats. While we are constantly experimenting with new techniques to display images in real time in much superior quality, and require more computing power, there are many formats.
Of course, all of this has a commercial purpose. Greater interoperability makes it possible to expand the horizons to take advantage of digital objects created within environments that are also more compatible with each other. Meta sees this as a real opportunity to make Horizon (or more simply Facebook) more integrated with an internet where it already takes up a lot of space. Despite this, the greater interoperability of the formats is also a sign of greater exposure for the latter.
This advancement to the front stage of certain technologies or specific standards brings the general public interested in them, to transfer them. And if there is any real hope for MSF, it is to see that by standardizing the ways we produce and process data, we will be able – we, not Meta or Google – to understand these technologies at work. of new ideas.
MSF perfectly aligns the pharmakon nature that technology can do (and especially the Internet and most forms of capitalism). It is the medicine and the poison. You need to know how to find the good there and be wary of the worst. Preach healthy interoperability, to protect against the value monopoly of the biggest player.