Author: Sofie Hvitved
Last week I participated in ‘Enter the Metaverse’ - The world's largest online Metaverse event with +65 of the world's leading founders and experts within the metaverse industry from companies like Decentraland, Second Life, Alien Worlds, The Sandbox, Epic Games and Microsoft, and experts such as Cathy Hackl and Jon Radoff.
No doubt, there are many different views on the metaverse (Is it here yet? What does it mean? What are the most important elements? Will it continue to be named by the term the metaverse?), but one thing seemed clear during the talks: We are at the very early phase of the metaverse and therefore many things are not defined yet and the metaverse will affect all industries in ways we cannot imagine right now.
The pandemic has been a watershed moment that has pushed the idea of the ‘next internet’ forwards bringing a tsunami of investments – both from the gaming industry but most noticeably by big tech companies like Microsoft and Meta (who even changed their name accordingly). Every week new projects are being announced, and in this early stage, all these different projects will be defining how it will play out, as the acclaimed Godmother of the Metaverse, Cathy Hackl said during her talk.
“We are all pioneering this – there’s no right or wrong. But it’s important we start asking the right questions now - and have the important discussions on ethical issues, privacy, ownership and relationship.”
Many of the speakers at the conference have a background in either the Gaming industry with virtual communities, VR and AR or within the Tokenomics with cryptocurrencies and NFT’s, which seems to draw the picture of two overall different approaches to the metaverse:
1) The 3D ‘sense of presence’ approach focuses on the experience for the user in a new immersive universe with XR technologies (VR/AR/MR etc).
2) The web3 (Web 3.0) decentralized/blockchain approach focuses on a new infrastructure based on the creator economy and new ways of ownership. What really defines Web 3.0 from Web 2.0?
This is of course a simplification of the vast complexity of the metaverse. Jon Radoff has a more complex model with The Seven Layers of the Metaverse, but for me, the main two discussions are focusing around these two. It’s going to be interesting to see how all of these different approaches are going to play together moving forward and who will lead the way.
Here are a few highlights from the event:
👉 The metaverse is much more than an immersive experience through XR technologies. According to Cathy Hackl, the metaverse is about opportunities in the future of content and the future of connectivity. Connecting people, places and things.
👉 Beware of companies using the Metaverse as a kind of ‘tech-washing’. Be aware of what it really means to be part of the metaverse?
👉 The boundaries between users and producers, fans and bands, readers and journalists are fading away. This might change our mindsets which will also change in the physical world.
👉 The Metaverse is an abstraction of life.
👉 All the different projects right now will just be one ‘word’ in the ‘verse’
👉 In relation to the media industry, the metaverse will most likely make some media activities go away (like watching traditional tv) since we will use more time there, according to Dirk Lueth from Upland.
👉 It’s all about making your customers' lives easier and better and bringing more value to your audience. Be aware that – like on the internet – the users are very different in the metaverse. It’s important to look at your specific users when creating projects for the metaverse.
👉 Zuckerberg is very focused on the experiences but doesn’t talk much about ownership. It’s important to talk about the open metaverse and true ownership (Mike Grantis, Cryptoweekly) This was also pointed out at another online conference this week, Reuters Next conference, where investor and co-founder of Animoca Brands, Yat Siu, stated that Facebook might risk missing the point of metaverse:
"What Facebook is doing with meta...is a 'fake metaverse,' unless they actually have a real description as to how we can truly own it."
👉 “Let’s build an inclusive, diverse, secure and sustainable Metaverse”
(Dirk Songuer, Global Strategic Innovation, Metaverse, Microsoft)
About the Author
Sofie Hvitved - I am strongly engaged in the intersection between media & technology, and work with the development and execution of strategy and innovation projects. As Associated Partner & Special Advisor in Media & Technology at Copenhagen Institute of Futures Studies I have the possibility to dig deeper into to the future trends and scenarios and use my analytic skills to help the industry in the right direction.
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