The metaverse is a network of always-on virtual environments in which many people can interact with one another and digital objects while operating virtual representations – or avatars – of themselves. Think of a combination of , a and the web.
The metaverse is a concept from science fiction that many people in the technology industry envision as the successor to today’s internet. It’s only a vision at this point, but technology companies like Facebook are aiming to make it the setting for many online activities, including work, play, studying and shopping. Facebook is so sold on the concept that it is to highlight its push to dominate the metaverse.
Metaverse is a portmanteau of meta, meaning transcendent, and verse, from universe. Sci-fi novelist Neal Stephenson coined the term in his 1992 novel “” to describe the virtual world in which the protagonist, Hiro Protagonist, socializes, shops and vanquishes real-world enemies through his avatar. The concept predates “Snow Crash” and was popularized as “cyberspace” in William Gibson’s groundbreaking 1984 novel “.”
There are three key aspects of the metaverse:
Presence is the feeling of actually being in a virtual space, with virtual others.
have shown that this sense of embodiment improves the quality of online interactions. This sense of presence is achieved through virtual reality technologies such as head-mounted displays.
Interoperability means being able to seamlessly travel between virtual spaces with the same virtual assets, such as avatars and digital items.
allows people to create an avatar that they can use in hundreds of different virtual worlds, including in Zoom meetings through apps like . Meanwhile, technologies such as and facilitate the transfer of digital goods across virtual borders.
Standardization is what enables interoperability of platforms and services across the metaverse.
As with all mass-media technologies – from the printing press to texting – common technological standards are essential for widespread adoption. International organizations such as the define these standards.
WHY THE METAVERSE MATTERS
If the metaverse does become the successor to the internet, who builds it, and how, is extremely important to the future of the economy and society as a whole.
Facebook is aiming to play a leading role in shaping the metaverse, in part by .
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg his view that the metaverse spans nonimmersive platforms like today’s social media as well as immersive 3D media technologies such as virtual reality, and that it as well as play.
Hollywood has embraced the metaverse in movies like ‘Ready Player One.’
The metaverse might one day resemble the flashy fictional Oasis of Ernest Cline’s “,” but until then you can turn to games like and , virtual reality social media platforms like and , and virtual work environments like for a taste of the immersive and connected metaverse experience. As these siloed spaces converge and become increasingly interoperable, watch for a truly singular metaverse to emerge.
(Rabindra Ratan is an Associate Professor of Media and Information at Michigan State University and receives funding from the National Science Foundation.)
(Yiming Lei is a Doctoral student in Media and Information and does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.)
(This is an opinion piece and the views expressed above are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for the same. This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article here.)