As Meta grows for the Metaverse, this may be a better choice for some, not all.

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This article was written by Olga Vorobyeva, founder of Vox Consulting

In true technical style, there isn’t a single universally accepted definition of the metaverse. Simply put, the Metaverse is a vast network of 3D worlds and real-time rendered simulations for cooperation and participation. It is not a virtual reality experience or a virtual economy with avatars, but a way to maintain identity, objects, payments, history and continuity of ownership.

The metaverse market could reach $ 783.3 billion in 2024 up from $ 478.7 billion in 2020, which is a compound annual growth rate of 13.1%, based on Bloomberg studies with data from Newzoo, IDC, PWC, Statista and Two Circles. It’s set to expand beyond AR and VR content, incorporating live entertainment and taking a share of social media ad revenue. According to that same data, the entire metaverse can reach 2.7 times that of gaming software, services and ad revenue alone.

The metaverse allows users to interact virtually; a digital reality that combines various aspects of social media, online gaming, augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) and cryptocurrency. Augmented reality overlays visual, sound, and other sensory data into real-world settings to improve user experience. Virtual reality is fully virtual, enhancing fictional reality.

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And the metaverse is already full of exciting projects, experiences and platforms.

Kalao, for example, is a popular virtual world that combines NFTs, business collaboration, virtual reality experiences, and a marketplace, all built on the Avalanche blockchain. SoftBank (one of the world’s most influential tech companies) has invested $ 93 million in The Sandbox’s metaverse game. And to bridge the gap between the real and virtual worlds, Metahero is a 3D scanning technology that recreates real world objects, humans included, and recreates them as ultra-HD avatars. According to CoinMarketCap, Metahero already has an operational 4K public chamber ready for digitization in Doha, Qatar, with plans to install more digitization chambers in Tokyo, Berlin, New York, Seoul, etc. MetaHero has ties to Sony (through exclusive partnerships), which is undoubtedly well positioned to bring the Metaverse into homes through its PlayStation brand.

But all is not well in the metaverse. A black hole forms and its name is Meta.

In one interview with The Verge, Mark Zuckerberg turned his head, announcing that Facebook would move from a social network to a “metaverse business” within the next five years. Just as Google announced that its name was now Alphabet, mainly for accounting reasons, Facebook was renamed Meta, but did it differently. By revealing the change with a bang, including demos from its Horizon VR social platform, it made Meta more than just an exercise in good money management.

So while Facebook’s apparent endorsement of the Metaverse looks positive, it could be the worst thing that has happened to the industry since its inception.

A parallel universe at your fingertips

For many, the metaverse is part of a dream for the future of the internet. In part, this is an accurate way to reflect some current trends in online infrastructure, including the rise of real-time generated 3D worlds.

The metaverse is a collective of byte-based alternatives to the characteristics of the atomized physical world. While many people think the Metaverse is a version of the dystopian book and movie Ready Player One, much of the Metaverse will be of much more utilitarian value. Ultimately, we will always be connected to the metaverse by expanding our senses of sight, hearing and touch and by integrating digital elements into the digital world.

Neil Stevenson coined the term “metaverse” in his 1992 novel Snowfall. He introduced a virtual reality world like the Internet, which he called the “metaverse” in which users would interact with digital forms of themselves called “avatars”.

In fiction, the utopian metaverse can be described as a new frontier at which we can all rewrite social norms and value systems, without cultural and economic sclerosis. Unlike Ready Player One, which portrays a meta-universe in which the natural world gives way to an infinite virtual world, multiple metauniverses in our world are likely to emerge.

But equally important for a thriving metaverse will be creating a community that values ​​the contributions of developers and creators who create resources and experiences for most users, whether they are developing a new game, digital objects, or virtual worlds. integers. The metaverse will allow users to create their content, to distribute it freely in a widely accessible digital world.

The metaverse will be an endless world encompassing both physical and virtual worlds. Blockchain technology will ensure the security and public availability of transactions and identities without the oversight of governments, businesses, or other regulatory body.

And this is where the problem with Meta and its ambitions lies.

When Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web, his first post was not “Hello Facebook, Google, Alibaba, Tencent and Amazon”. It was “Hello world”. It was supposed to be the Internet by people, for people.

However, we have allowed the Internet to become centralized and controlled by a few large corporations. The risk in this model is extraordinary.

So what’s next for the Metaverse?

Currently, according to Ethernodes data, we know that approximately 70% of Ethereum nodes run on hosted services or cloud providers, as we commonly call them. 23% of the Ethereum network relies on a single provider; Amazon Web Services. Now imagine what happens if Jeff Bezos decides to launch AmazonCoin, on Amazon’s blockchain and (as I’m confident the terms and conditions allow) chooses to ban ETH projects on AWS. While this may not mean the end of Ethereum, it will undoubtedly have a significant impact on the global ‘Blockchain app store’.

So, do we believe Zuckerberg has our best intentions at heart? Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp are constantly collecting data from their users. They use this personal information to target consumer advertising and profit from that information without reward or compensation. Meta’s market capitalization was $ 935 billion in November 2021, with 2.91 billion active monthly user numbers, and advertising accounted for 98.8% of the company’s total revenue in 2020.

Does anyone think Meta will act differently in the near future, embracing the true vision of the Metaverse? Or will he continue to earn money and power by leveraging a new class of personal data: eye tracking, mood, physical movements, and even potential or widespread mental health issues?

One could argue that this is just a product of terminally ill capitalism. After all, cryptocurrencies, which are supposed to be the bastion of the decentralized economy, have fallen into the same trap as fiat. As with traditional currency, a small number of people own the majority of crypto tokens, such as Bitcoin.

What could be a reset button for the whole internet, finally delivering the promise of a system by the people, and for the people, is likely to become another centralized ecosystem – with a few companies under control – and them. governments retaining the ability to censor content, block access and install firewalls to prevent citizens from telling their stories to the outside world.

The good, the bad and the unknown

One positive thing that Facebook’s rebranding does for this ecosystem is that it essentially validates the entire concept of a “metaverse” in the mainstream world and validates what builders have done in Ethereum over the years. For Facebook, giving weight to the Metaverse’s products and services and changing the name of the entire company to something relative is a strong signal that should not be ignored (whether you like the company or not). .

When Mark Zuckerberg took us on a whirlwind tour of the Metaverse – the still-hypothetical next phase of the internet – he showed us a future that offers a single space, merging digital and physical reality on one platform. Zuckerberg previously announced that the Metaverse would be “the embodied Internet that you experience, not just watch,” he said as he perused the demo.

And while the global pandemic has heightened interest in the Metaverse as more people work from home or remotely, it’s critical for all of us not to lose sight of what’s on offer and by whom. Some fear that the Metaverse, under Meta’s control, will become a centralized, dystopian information grabber, designed solely to serve its parent company and increase its power beyond measure.

Suppose we were to create and live virtually in a place where you can work, play, learn, create, shop, and interact with friends in a virtual online environment. In this case, I want everyone to participate, enjoy it, be rewarded for their time and energy, and help each other grow. Without control, all we’ll do, collectively, is allow Meta to become our gatekeepers, and that’s inherently inhuman.

Olga is the founder of Vox Consulting, a marketing company for blockchain, DeFi and NFT startups, and a former head of marketing at SwissBorg – the leading crypto wealth management platform (TOP -100 Coinmarketcap).

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