It’s a question I’ve been considering for eight years. When I was a brand newbie in Second Life, I thought SL was the Metaverse.
Very simply, the word means “beyond the universe.” It refers to shared 3D environments linked in a virtual universe. Neal Stephenson coined the term Metaverse for the online world in his dystopian novel Snowcrash, and it is commonly held that this served as inspiration for Philip Rosedale’s Second Life.
I’m not really sure when it was that I realized that Second Life, as a single, proprietary 3D world might be a metaverse. But it wasn’t The Metaverse. Maybe it was when Linden began experimenting with the Open Sim project. Perhaps it was when I first saw Google Earth and began thinking about real images mapped to 3D objects. Then briefly, Google gave 3D shopping a try. I started to get it. I don’t think I could put the concept into words, but I began to understand that The Metaverse, when it comes, will be huge. It would mean having the ability to move around a connected virtual 3D space not controlled and bounded by a single company. It will be as vast and varied as the Internet is today, residing on many servers all over the world, controlled by no one entity.
In “Defining the Real World Metaverse,” Josh McCormick describes the Metaverse as interconnected experiences in a virtual environment. He makes excellent points about why we cannot create this new universe based on fictional models, such as the one in Snowcrash, and why MMORPG worlds cannot serve as the model either. I think he is correct. Science fiction inspires us. MMORPG games are outstanding, and will exist in this virtual world. We’ll visit them, but they will not define the Metaverse.
This new world would mean that I might meet a friend from Australia in a 3D space I’d built on my server, at my house. We decide to go to a gallery in Paris showing work of a new artist. As we talk, he tells me he’s thinking about buying . . . oh, let’s say a new car. For grins, we pop over to Tesla and have a drive in their newest model around a really cool track. Each of these experiences would be immersive, real and shared. Afterwards, we go dancing at a place he found last week, until I’m so tired I crash. Time zones and international friends — always challenging.
How big will the Metaverse be? Bigger than the real world. Philip Rosedale posits that in 20 years, it could be 1,000 times the size of our earth . . .
Image from Pixabay.