The Metaverse hit mainstream media in October 28, 2021 when Mark Zuckerberg announced Facebook’s rebrand to Meta. The change signals the company’s new focus on developing the Metaverse – a new kind of internet. A 3D immersive internet. A network of virtual worlds and mixed reality applications. A virtual place to play, shop, study, socialize, explore, work and more. An internet you can surround yourself in and explore.
Imagine playing Minecraft with your avatar, gathering some digital resources, and trading those resources for a new digital hat at a separate virtual shop that accepts Minecraft materials. Then you take your avatar wearing that new hat straight into a Star Wars world, another area of the Metaverse where visitors can explore the Star Wars galaxy.
Or imagine walking around your town and seeing an arrow pop up on your smart glasses showing you how to get to your destination, and as you walk by a set of stores and restaurants you can get online ratings appear in the air beside them. Mixed reality dance lessons could have holographic figures show you the moves as you practice. An online recipe can actually show you the ingredients and portion sizes on your counter as you cook.
There’s a significant portion of society that want the Metaverse, but not with Meta laying the ground. Summed up, it’s the three Ds of an open Metaverse: decentralization, democratization, and diversity.
Interoperability is key. Bridging the network of virtual worlds with shared protocols like how the internet is today. Instead of having VR networks centralized at a company’s servers like Meta, the Metaverse would simply be an evolved internet. Private tech companies like to develop closed ecosystems around their products. The spirit of the internet is from a vast collection of interconnected networks.
Many would likely agree that a Metaverse that has users vote on changes is a better practice than having a money-hungry private corporation calling the shots on millions of people. A profit-driven company running the Metaverse would plaster product placements and ads at every spot you turn, and contain a multitude of paywalls for virtual locations. A land for the people should be run by the people.
Diversity isn’t just inclusion. With diversity, you can call upon a variety of unique strengths and wider perspectives that collectively build a more advanced virtual society. It enhances forethought and creativity. With a diverse array of endless worlds, the styles can be extremely varied. Similar to how emojis look different depending on where you send them online, your avatar might translate its style to match the world it falls into. For example, in your digital home you might go for a realistic 3D rendering of your body, but when you travel to Minecraft’s network, your avatar turns into a blocky version of itself. Even your own style can be fluid.
The 3 Ds seem inevitable as a corporation running after profit can only go so far before the user base feels stifled. A decentralized, democratized, and diverse Metaverse keeps it as a platform for the people, rather than a platform for profit.