Well what an interesting day yesterday was as Facebook went all out on being a Metaverse company and renamed itself to Meta. It also marked a point that crosses my straight unbiased industry analyst day job with my constancy of being a metaverse evangelist, a title I had in 2006 and maintain. These comments are mine alone and not that of the company I work for. I have lots more to share and discuss on all things Metaverse, but that’s something that people have to pay for nowadays.
However, I will say that I was really pleased to see a slick presentation on all things Metaverse from a multi billion dollar company like Facebook. Last year the same happened to some degree with Microsoft and Mesh at Ignite. The conversations have moved by many people from, “nah we don’t want to interact like that ever” to “no one company should own all this”. The Metaverse the industry and society needs does, as was said in the Meta keynote, need to be able to let people connect with both the physical and multiple virtual realities for a multitude of reasons and with many available ways to be who we are. I have, for many years, talked about how we have had to adjust to the limitations of technology to allow our communication at distance. We still type on qwerty keyboards designed as a layout in part to stop physical typewriter hammers jamming by spacing out the commonly used letters in words to avoid that issue. Not that we need to get rid of this form of typing, but to hold it up as the only way to interact with technology and data seems a little bit odd doesn’t it?
Back a decade or so ago I created a slide for a presentation on virtual worlds and the metaverse that was aimed at showing how far we might be able to go and why. It was in part a presentation about the fact it is not all avatars and islands. Those work, but there are many more things that come together. There are many forms of input, including neural interfaces (see below at the left), there are combinations of virtual to virtual, virtual to real (AR) and as I said at the end virtual to real to real, which is virtual objects becoming physical again (3d printing etc). It is about the connecting of people, a wetware grid, but threaded by narrative and context. The Meta presentation often showed these as quick interactions, thrown a basket ball, looking at a design etc, but the there is of course a longer thread, a digital thread if you like. It’s all very fractal in its nature, the patterns repeat at any scale.
One thing to note though is that everything feeds back into the entire loop, the arrows are multi directional. You might 3d print a “device” or prop you found in a virtual world interaction, but that itself might be an input device for another experience. Imagine if you 3D printed a modelling clay tool you bought in a virtual world then made a clay sculpture that you took a photo of for Flickr, or even scanned the sculpture in and made it a virtual object as a one off that you sold on an NFT market place which then saw it used as a prop in a virtual world movie, and so on. I used to talk about printing off a penny whistle and joining in a virtual band at an irish pub in Second Life. I hope you get the gist.
One key thing though, and it is slightly annoying Facebook have nicked the word but as you see below the entire loop is the meta loop (c 2009).
I know many of us old guard or original gangster, however OG you want to be, might be annoyed at the mega corp going Meta on us and riding high on our hard work persuading the world this is a good idea and the way we are all going. However, it is the way we are going, so we get to say “I told you so”, rather than multi billionaires. Money clearly isn’t everything 🙂 We, and I include all my fellow Eightbar people and surrounding community from back in 2006, we were already riding on top of some Double OG work. It’s the nature of waves of societal acceptance and tech development. The hope is that business and experiences that are born of the Metaverse with thrive and bring entertainment, education, excitement and benefit to the world. By metaverse business I mean not the ones building the underlying tech platforms, but the ones thriving on top of them, but then going on to influence the wave after this just as Facebook and co are today. It’s certainly not going away, so my sons birth certificate from 14 years ago saying father’s occupation “Metaverse Evangelist” might turn out to be of use to him someday.
I mentioned above that the physical world is an important part of the metaverse and in the Facebook/Meta pitch there was an instrumented house where the mugs and teapot that were carried in real life updated their position in the digital model. Well, that around the other way is the premise of my Reconfigure and Cont3ct novels. They are very metaverse, IoT, Quantum AR and VR related, but our hero Roisin gets to manipulate the physical world by altering the digital world. It works for an adventure, but it also keeps the “scifi set this afternoon” concept alive and it is not yet all done and dusted 🙂 Go take a look it’s very reasonably priced and might spark a few ideas on the back of the future that Meta are pushing. More here or see the ads not the right.