Works of art sold in NFT at exorbitant prices through the blockchain, huge investment in Metaverse, announcement of a new Internet called Web3… no doubt you have heard all these new terms that have 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. Amidst 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 understand this new concept first. An idea that remains complicated to explain for one simple reason: a large part of it all is still the same.a fantasy. A glimpse of the future, first born in science fiction.
Metaverse: a concept born in 1992
The first time the term appears 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? – which creates a parallel world, where virtual reality and augmented reality mix. And where the ultimate goal is to control the minds of the 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: playing, working, discussing, learning, etc.
What exactly is a Metaverse?
Matthew Ball, subject 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 simultaneous and alive. Everyone has the same experience in the metaverse, in real time. And this, although some events can be programmed and occur autonomously.
- The metaverse is a computer-generated universe. This is a full environment, 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 is an economy like any other. Fully functional, 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 some kind of interoperability, although it is not yet clear how easy the gates are between each universe. The blockchain and NFT system should allow a certain fluidity but it is still possible that those who imagine their own metaverse will try to keep this universe in a vacuum. It’s not very interesting when that happens. It is hoped that these different virtual worlds will be interconnected, but there is no guarantee. If they thrive in silos, it can end in bitter failure.
- It’s up to everyone to imagine the metaverse. In fact, companies are already appropriating this new Eldorado but, due to its decentralized aspect, everyone will be able to create their own content and their own experiences in the metaverse. And thus change the game on his level.
Guaranteed success? No warranty
For now, the metaverse is above all a concept, a projection of the future. If there are already immersive virtual worlds (Minecraft, Roblox, World of Warcraft, Fortnite, Animal Crossing, The Sandbox) variations on old concepts (the Sims or even Second Life), no one can guarantee that the concept will succeed. Nor that he will not experience abuses as has happened in social networks.
The fact remains that the stakes are as important as examining the question now, although it is undoubtedly necessary wait ten years before the concept takes shape. In his campaign program for the 2022 presidential election, however, Emmanuel Macron emphasized the importance of European initiatives in terms of the metaverse.
Now, the challenge is twofold. Metaverse interoperability, first of all, with the decentralization of these immersive virtual worlds in order not to regain the grip of some Internet players, as is the case today with Google, Amazon, Facebook & co. Another challenge: convince people of the interest of 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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