I think that’s it. Now, to work!
Is the metaverse a social-crypto environment, bringing together human interaction and decentralized ledgers? Perhaps that’s part of it, but it doesn’t feel sufficiently complete a definition.
What’s good about this particular riff from Melinek is that she’s correct. There are several definitions of what the metaverse is. This is the precise gray area that has allowed anyone working with digital communities, or really digital assets more generally, to claim the label. The result is that everything is the metaverse, which is the same thing as saying that precisely nothing is.
As Melinek notes, there are two main thrusts toward building the metaverse. The Meta approach appears to start from the perspective of personal representation inside a persistent, video-game like environment. This means that the ‘metaverse’ is akin to an MMORPG, but without a genre-specific quest focus; it’s more open-ended, and thus more open to continued thematic expansion. The more crypto, or web3, approach is to consider digital assets that can be viewed as an extension of one’s self as the metaverse, or at least part of it. A “PFP NFT” being, for example, how you want to display yourself in a digital environment. That sort of thing.
It’s possible to imagine a hybridization of the two definitions. A place where you and I might have a persistent avatar of sorts and digital goods are recorded on some sort of decentralized ledger.
Yes, this is tension between decentralized and centralized systems, but in this case it’s a useful divide to note as it appears to be keeping what could be the metaverse from reach. It is not too hard to come up with a way forward. For example:
Is that a compelling metaverse? I guess at this juncture if that isn’t then we need to entirely rewrite what we mean when we say the word. Because that’s as close as I can smush things together without literally dropping all current definitions and starting over from scratch.
Good luck, Facebook!