What is the metaverse?

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A comic book artist answers the big question!

I’ve had more than a few conversations recently about the metaverse.

Lots of people are talking about their entry into the meta-verse, particularly as a way to engage their audience or consumers. I’m not sure though if what they’re talking about is the metaverse at least not the way I see it.

Metaverse as a buzzword is being thrown around a lot but I wonder is it being confused with multi platform. We’re in a multi platform world already and to my mind the metaverse is simply a conceptual wrapper for multiple different initiatives springing up right now as we see the uptake of AR, VR and the emergence of web3.

I see the use of the word ‘metaverse’ as similar to using the phrase ‘social media’. Social media is agnostic, it’s not a company or a platform or an app, it’s a definition that has developed as a clearly understood shorthand for the whole ecosystem.

And while someone comes up with the word or phrase that becomes that wrapper (in this case Neal Stephenson), what the metaverse is or will be is at an early stage of its evolution.  

It’s quite possible that the phrase metaverse might end up being nailed to just one of the many of the multi platform multi access initiatives being spun up right now. Facebook rebranding as Meta is a very ham fisted attempt to do just that. In which case, we’ll need a new buzzy phrase to describe the ecosystem as a whole.

So what will the metaverse ultimately become? I’m definitely not qualified to answer that but I’m not going to let that stop me from throwing some darts at the board. I think it’s safe to say some of the primary ingredients will be multiple competing platforms that are populated by our digital twins (which will inevitably be idealised versions of ourselves). Content, whether it be entertainment, commerce or enterprise, that is agnostic and can easily port from one platform to another. Free and easy access from the device or input of choice to said platforms and content.

Sounds like the internet? Well yes but with digital mapping overlaying the physical world  allowing us to live in a potentially seamless digital/physical world combo. That coupled to AR and VR, other sensory inputs such as haptics opens up the capability to enhance and enable pretty much any use case and have persistent always on content. 

Will it be amazing? 

It can be but we’re really good at shooting ourselves in the foot so it’ll probably have parts that enrich our lives and parts that create a whole new set of social problems.

Coming next, a comic book artist splits the atom.