What is the “Metaverse”?

Written by Rodrick Chattaika

January 6, 2022

Where does the term come from? You may think the data pirate or perhaps as he goes by officially… “Mark Zuckerberg”.No offense intended…just a pleasant jab to one of the biggest Web2 tech conglomerates of our time. Let’s get back on track, point of the matter is the phrase was actually coined by Neal Stephenson in his fictional book “Snow Crash”.

Graphic Illustration of “Snow Crash” Book

Well… what does Stephenson’s book say about the beloved “Metaverse”? It is not as utopian as one may think, which makes you wonder why there is such a big push towards such a technological development? The book’s main storyline mainly encompasses around a bleak future where the global economy collapse and most federal governments have lost their power; which leads to virtual world becoming a form of escapism for the grim reality that humans live in. I hope, that does not seem to similar to the current situation and hopefully not something that realises. Basically,  the book predicts a future where governments lose power and this power is then encompassed by big corporations instead.

I do not know what most opinions are, however, that is not a future that I would like to take part in nor is it one that I am insanely excited about. However? Is there hope for a Metaverse that we actually join, that we are in control of? I hope…

The main driver of the Metaverse trend has acceptably been Facebook rebranding to “Meta” and basically envisioning the whole idea of it. However, one thing that companies such as Facebook have failed to understand about the modern economy is that power is not purely gained through “Money” and “Market Share”; the decentralized space has something to say about that; Facebook has had similar failed attempts at creating something similar with the Libra coin. Showing that a project this massive and this influential to society, will not easily be handed over to one corporation and one person.

If we do dive into the black hole of the Metaverse, Web3 will be the main driver and not one corporation and Web3 as a whole is the people.

So in simple terms, the Metaverse is: taking the world we live in now and all its contents and putting into a virtual world.

Metaverse: The Corporate Playground?

As we have already gone through Facebook or “Meta” as they like to be called these days (Sassy); there are other companies who are diving into the trend such as Microsoft by directly competing with Facebook’s offerings due to the good old psychological effect of fearing being “left behind”; as although other companies such as Microsoft may not fully believe in such a concept because the main competitor is doing it, they have to keep up or face losing considerable market share. This is shown by the fight between the two with their virtual products Horizon Workrooms Vs. Mesh for Microsoft Teams.

Nike logos and RTFKT

Nike,Jordan,Converse,RTFKT Logos (Nike)

Other notable companies diving into the Metaverse involve companies such as Mercedes

Countries adopting it to showcase and create experiences of their car offerings. Other examples are Nike’s acquisition of RTFKT, a company which is only a few months old but already valued at an estimated $33 Million USD; these figures are perhaps borderline crazy, as the NFT space is arguably still extremely young and its products such as “Digital Sneakers” which RTFKT specialises on, are still an abstract concept. As shown before, due to the fear of being left behind, once a competitor makes a large move such as this… their main competitors follows in their footsteps to prevent looking like a dinosaur in terms of innovation. This is shown by Adidas’s partnership with influential Crypto Figure “GMoney” and the “Bored Ape Yacht Club” NFT collection; If you had told me this would be happening a year ago, I would have told you to slow down on the psychedelics. But yes, this is the world we live in now, and we will only see how much crazier this roller coaster ride gets.

Which countries are leading the Metaverse Charge?

Notable countries taking part in the charge include Barbados and South Korea.

Barbados has revealed plans of creating their embassy in the Metaverse, this involves talking to several Metaverse companies to establish a “sovereign digital land”. The Barbados Government plans to purchase land in different Metaverse solutions; with their first step being to partner with Decentraland.

Another Government pushing for a move to the Metaverse includes the South Korean government which plans to establish a presence for the country’s capital Seoul in the Metaverse. They plan to invest around $3.3 Million USD into the project. The name of the project is “Seoul Vision 2030” : and it includes creating the equivalent of tourist attractions, government institutions and social centres in the Metaverse.

NFTs & Collectibles: How the Blockchain ties in…

The idea of the Metaverse; is arguably a Web3 concept; as such a concept of transfering the human world into virtual spaces would involve the need for efficient exchange of “digital goods” within the metaverse and a need for the trust of these goods- this is where smart contracts come in and particularly the  ERC-721 type; which you may all know as the good old “NFTs”!

The NFT world is the first recognisable product that can theoretically be attached to the idea of the “Metaverse” as it is technically a completely “Digital Purchase”. It will be interesting to see how the Metaverse develops beyond the collection of NFTs that give access to communities, to perhaps these NFTs becoming an active and engine compatible part of the Metaverse such as people walking around the Metaverse in their Bored Ape costume for example.

So, the tech giants, as well as governments, are taking first-class seats to the Metaversse…how about you?

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Written by Rodrick Chattaika © Crypto University 2022

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