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1 The metaverse is already here

The metaverse is an infinitely large (future) virtual world that connects all other virtual sub-worlds. You can see the metaverse as the next phase of the Internet as we know it: the currently two-dimensional, flat Internet will be changing into a three-dimensional, spatial form. We are moving from the web of pages to the web of coordinates. And from the web of information to the web of activities.

In the future, people can meet as avatars in the metaverse, to get to know each other for example, to network, provide services, collaborate, relax, game, shop and consume. The metaverse also offers the opportunity to build, create and participate in a virtual economy.

In the future, we won’t be going “on” the Internet, but “in” the spatial Internet. The metaverse can be seen as the world that connects all (existing) virtual worlds. That world, however, isn’t here yet.

While it is true that various initiatives exist, such as Fortnite, Roblox, Minecraft, Decentraland, Cryptovoxels, Axie infinity, Sandbox and Facebook Horizon, the metaverse is still a thing of the future.

What makes this confusing is that all of these companies individually also describe themselves as metaverse companies.


2. Metaverse is nothing new: we already know it from Second Life

The 3D platform Second Life was launched in 2003, and by 2013, it had about a million regular users. As avatars, you can meet other users and socialize, build, and shop. Second Life still exists. It is not “the metaverse”, however.

As we’ve seen in the statement above: the metaverse connects virtual worlds with each other. These worlds are interoperable; that is, users can switch worlds cross-platform while maintaining their digital properties, purchases, and identities. The metaverse connects multiple virtual worlds, so in the future Second Life will be connected to Fortnite and Roblox. And of course it is true that current virtual worlds resemble Second Life, but the metaverse is really something else.



3. Facebook is creating the metaverse and shows us what the metaverse looks like

This, too, is incorrect, of course. Facebook (~Meta) is on a massive push to capture the metaverse as its theme. It is investing huge amounts of money in research, manpower and marketing to put itself on the map. After all,  if Facebook isn’t on board once the metaverse becomes reality, that could potentially be disastrous for their popularity.

Plus what we are seeing now in Facebook’s promotional videos is not the metaverse’s final form. In terms of development we can compare this to the Internet of 1995. Back then, too, it was impossible to predict the final shape of the Internet with companies such as Tiktok, Coinbase, Snapchat and Vinted.

In short: what Facebook is showing us is not “the metaverse”.

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4. You can only visit the metaverse in virtual reality

This is another misunderstanding. The metaverse will eventually be accessible via your smartphone, computer, laptop, virtual reality glasses and augmented reality glasses. The company behind Pokémon GO, for example, is actively working on the latter.


5. The metaverse is inevitable

It is clear that the metaverse is actively being developed. The key players in the world of technology have their eyes on it. Meta, NVIDIA, EPIC, Roblox. But they are facing a number of challenges; interoperability – where users must be able to move easily between different worlds – being one of them. This means that companies must work intensively on open standards. In the metaverse, you have to be able to work, attend concerts and play games with the greatest of ease. Not such an easy feat, particularly because many companies will be reluctant to collaborate on open standards and give up their intellectual property.

In addition, the growth of the metaverse will also require substantial hardware innovations.



6. The metaverse is suitable for everything

This is another aspect that remains to be seen. In the future, the different variants of the Internet will simply coexist – just as you sometimes read a book on paper, and sometimes on your screen. The Internet as we know it will continue to exist, of course. It will be accessible on your smartphone, computer or tablet. For some things such as shopping, playing games, and social interaction, the metaverse will be extremely suitable. But I can’t imagine doing my internet banking in the metaverse. We’ll see.


7. The metaverse is fantastic

Again, this isn’t clear-cut. Obviously, we can dream up fantastic applications for the metaverse. Social interaction, games, concerts, sports and entertainment. At the same time, we must keep asking ourselves the question: what is the actual added value? Can’t this be done a different way? Is our privacy guaranteed? Should we be developing technology that actively separates us from the physical world? Will that make us less connected to those around us? And when we’re walking around as an avatar in the virtual world for two or three hours a day, how will that impact our perception of ourselves and others?

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