Back in the day, the PR agency I worked for launched the first virtual agency in Second Life. As a young know it all, I scoffed. Hearing the Facebook news, that cynical head reared itself again. “Ha,” said I, “here we go again. What’s Second Life doing now?” Seems I was not the only one to ask the question and the answer is: “it’s doing very well, thank you.” (Callow – a word it takes years to understand).
The idea of the metaverse is not new. But we’re moving on. I don’t think Meta will own it, that move’s more a reputation management exercise to try to move away from the toxicities of the Facebook brand. And as Ritson puts it, Nokia predicted a smartphone future, but they couldn’t organise to deliver against it.
But it’s happening. Niantic is way ahead of the field in mapping the virtual world, and getting serious funding to support that work. Google, Apple, Snapchat are all also in the mix as you’d expect.
It’s not just big US companies leading in the space. Seoul has announced it will be the first city to build its own metaverse. It will create a “virtual communication ecosystem” where citizens can meet with city officials covering economic, cultural, tourism, educational and civic services.
It all suggests there won’t be just one metaverse – but multiples. But it’s still nascent and many governance and ethical debates need to be explored and settled.
There’s an exciting debate to be had about who owns the metaverse. And for that matter the omniverse – all data, all realities.
Who owns it and how we – and how we can ensure the data – can work together. Interoperability and collaboration is key.
Three Innovative Examples Of Metaverse-ready Extended Reality Tech In Use Today
- As often is the case, advertising is both a crucible for and a way to apply new technologies. This incredible 3D billboard for new Amazon Prime show Wheel of Time gives us a glimpse of what’s to come.
- A bit more clunky in the delivery still, but super impressive is this live-streamed volumetric video. A fast developing tool in the extended reality arsenal.
- Finally, an amazing virtual world success story for Reporters Without Borders who fight for press freedom around the world – they built The Uncensored Library in Minecraft, bringing outlawed texts to the people, even in heavily censored countries.