Back in the 90s, the internet had several names. Some would call it “cyberspace”. Others called it “the world wide web” or “the net”. There was also the “information superhighway”. These words now sound simultaneously futuristic and dated.
Most now call it the internet. Some use the words for the access points of the internet (cell service, wifi, or Google) interchangeably with the word internet.
There is no standard definition of the Metaverse but many agree it will be an immersive internet. A network of 3D virtual worlds alongside mixed reality apps. Mixed reality (MR) and virtual reality (VR) will simply be considered on a spectrum of extended reality (XR).
While Metaverse is the marketing buzzword that got a lot of attention after Facebook’s company name change to Meta, the groundwork for the Metaverse has been under development for years and known by different ideas.
Before the current media hype over the Metaverse, there was already development of open protocols for virtual worlds, “webXR” tools and years and years of discussions regarding the development of a “spatial web” as “web3”. Web1 was the static read-only 90s internet. Web2 is the internet we have today, with user interaction and user content.
The benefits of a spatial web are extensive. Some we see potential now, some benefits will likely appear years later. Mixed reality glasses can help you in nearly any area of your life. Signs in other languages can instantly switch to your language. The restaurants you pass by have Yelp ratings appear above them. You open your fridge and the items that are set to expire soon are highlighted in red.
The underlying technology and concept makes the Metaverse seem inevitable. What’s less inevitable is the name attached to it.
Judging from history, there are two likely scenerios:
One, we stick to the name internet. The internet will have become what we conceptualize today as the Metaverse, but the society of the future just sees it as web3. An evolved internet.
Two, we call it by whatever access points or underlying tech there are for it. Similar to how we say “just Google it” we might say “check the [insert popular browser / virtual lobby name here].”
It’s hard to say, but the Metaverse might sound a bit dramatic for something that will eventually become ubiquitous in society. Or the normalization of the word will make it seem as ordinary as the word internet. Time will tell.