The early metaphor of the universe
Placing us in the year of the pandemic, 2020, 27 million people connected through the game, Fortnite, to see rapper Travis Scott in a live concert. The interesting thing is not the number of people that connected, but the way users were connected. The Metaverse, a term created by science fiction literature, which today has been heard in speeches of people like Mark Zuckerberg, creator of the popular social network Facebook and Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft. Zuckerberg, for example, said “I hope people will move from seeing us as a networking company to a metaverse”, defining the latter as: “a virtual digital environment where you can be present with people in digital spaces” and adding, “The holy grail of social interactions.”
Let’s understand then, what is the Metaverse. It was first mentioned in 1992 by Neal Stephenson in his novel Snow Crash, alluding to the fact that human beings are avatars interacting in a three-dimensional space, a metaphor for the real world. From etymology, metaverse is a compound word where “meta” means beyond and “verse” alludes to universe, beyond the universe. Today, the term is used to describe the future of interaction via the Internet, being persistent, shared, three-dimensional spaces.
So far, the closest thing to a metaverse world are games such as, Fortnite, Minecraft, and Roblox. However, brands and commerce have already begun to understand the future of the internet. Sam George, vice president of Azure, Microsoft’s cloud service, tells the company’s networks that: “the possibilities are endless: a retail store where shopping experiences are optimized in real time and shelves are always stocked. A supply chain that controls and reduces carbon emissions. A process manufacturing line that adjusts to variations in natural ingredients and automatically detects and compensates for operational bottlenecks” thinking of Azure as an entrepreneurial metaverse.
Without going so far into theory and visions, Gucci has sold virtual handbags within Roblox recently. The ONG Reporters Without Borders has built a journalism library in the game Minecraft where players around the world can access books.
However, getting to the real Metaverse will still take time, as game executives say: “Building the infrastructure of an interoperable, independent virtual universe will take decades and billions in investment. But, above all, it will require unprecedented cooperation between internet giants, which comfortably control closed ecosystems and have already rejected data sharing in the past.”
Are you ready to go beyond the universe?