“THE METAVERSE” is a marketing term, already co-opted by one company. But in reality, it is just an extension of the larger and much more important new world we now have — “The Cloud”—in one direction, i.e., visual.
“The Cloud” is the new world, visible and invisible that is in addition to the world on Earth. It is a world that never existed before now. It is a world where people are connected globally, where they can create, interact. and build (and, sadly, also harm each other) in so many new ways — only one of which is 3D visualization. The Cloud is a totally new arena where human imagination can be instantiated. The more limited “Metaverse,” is, in my view, in fact a “retro” part of that world, because it insists that the Cloud world should look and feel like another Earth world. Why? The fact that it makes some people more comfortable with it is — to me, — a bug, not a feature.
If we over focus on the visual metaverse, we may ignore all the other things going on in the Cloud world, only some of which currently interact with the visual. Tools like “Let’s Mod,” (polyup.com) for example, as a way to bridge the two worlds (i.e. “Here’s how we can take what we can already do somewhere in the Cloud and make it look more visual.”) That has real value — but only as interface.
Our interface to the Cloud world is crucial and rapidly evolving. Currently, graphics (still too low res) are what is getting the hype as “The Metaverse.” Scott Galloway, interestingly, thinks that the earbuds already in so many ears constantly might be a better interface. But let us not allow whatever interface we use to obscure what we are interfacing with — both good and bad. What if, in the Metaverse, horrible trolls disguise themselves as beautiful avatars? Or dangerous things disguise themselves as playful virtual games and machines?
Visual used to be the ultimate trust — seeing was believing. Then we learned that even eye-witnesses were not necessarily reliable. Now we have not only deep fakes, but the ability to create any visual thing or person we want, from scratch.
I have nothing against what is now being called the Metaverse, but for me it is just the very tiny visible (in multiple senses) tip of a MUCH larger iceberg still emerging — and on which we should keep our focus. Remember, the visible spectrum is only a minute sliver of the radiation in the universe.
Marc Prensky has given keynotes in over 45 countries on 6 continents. He is the coiner of the term ‘digital native’ — now in the Oxford English Dictionary — and the award-winning author of 10 books. His work is taught in graduate schools around the world. Marc’s newest volume, EMPOWERED!: Re-framing ‘Growing Up’ for a New Age has been called visionary, transformative, moving, and extremely insightful. Marc serves on the Advisory Boards of several organizations. He started the Global Ministry of Empowerment Accomplishment and Impact and the Two Billion Kids Project to empower every young person on the planet to better their world. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.