Venture capitalist Matthew Ball first wrote about the metaverse in 2018, and his essays have become essential reading for entrepreneurs and tech watchers trying to understand or profit from the web that Mark Zuckerberg and many others anticipate will replace the internet. Ball was a director of strategy for Amazon Studios and his first book, The Metaverse, may become online future and tells, how It will revolutionize everything, is published in late July.
What is the metaverse?
It is a persistent network of 3D spaces. Almost everything online today – all applications, digital operating systems, web pages – run on common protocols and technology that connects them. The metaverse is a 3D elevation of the online future, encompassing augmented reality (invisible virtual simulations of the world around us), as well as much of consumer entertainment and socialization.
So the metaverse doesn’t involve virtual reality (VR)?
I think it’s important to separate access devices and specific experiences from the general metaverse. A good analogy would be to talk about the mobile internet: apps are not the mobile internet and online future. Not only can you access the mobile Internet from a web browser, but you can also do it without any visual interface. You can say, “Hey Siri, what time is it?” and you are accessing the mobile Internet from your phone. VR or AR (augmented reality) headsets can be a popular way to access the metaverse, but they are not a prerequisite.
The closest examples would be consumer entertainment-oriented gaming platforms such as Minecraft or Roblox: popular experiences reaching tens of millions of people daily, tightly integrating millions of different virtual worlds. But that is still quite modest and would be a bit like characterizing a GeoCities or Yahoo or AOL portal from the 1990s as a manifestation of the Internet as we know it today.The computer game Second Life is seen as a precursor to the metaverse.
Taking it even further back than Minecraft, the online future second life is often portrayed as a proto-metaverse. What distinguishes it from the real thing?
It’s a good example.