Explaining the Metaverse

One of the significant non-health related events of 2021 was an unexpected announcement from Mark Zuckerberg.

At the end of June, the CEO of Facebook spoke to his staff and broke the news that they’re no longer working for Facebook. They’re now part of a connected business entity called Meta, which is part of something even bigger called the Metaverse.

Meta brings together Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, and other properties in the Facebook family  into one organization that will be easy for users to move between.

With Meta, Zuckerberg envisions a seamless experience in terms of social networks, photo sharing, and live chat. It also makes space for Meta-owned entities to be added in the future.

The company also launched Horizon World, its own virtual reality world, at the end of 2021, where any adult can create their own avatar and control it through the Oculus headset, another Meta property. The Horizon project has been under development for quite awhile,  initially available by invitation only but now anyone can join.

Meta will also be better connected on the business side, with easier sharing of data and finances.

The structure has parallels to Google, which has its own browser, mail service, as well as the YouTube video sharing service, all under the Alphabet umbrella. It also has its own social network as well as a music service.

Zuckerberg later shared more details with tech media, including a new logo for Meta.

Of course, that wasn’t all  to the story.

Some tech watchers speculated Meta was Zuckerberg’s response to current complaints in Congress that Facebook has been getting too large, has too much control, and may be approaching monopoly status. Rather than selling and spinning off various entities like some suggested he should, he brought them all together.

He’s also making it easy to bring ‘his’ properties into the Metaverse, a connected digital ecosystem that several smaller tech companies have been providing input for over for the last few years.

The Metaverse is envisioned as a community where people, or at least their digital avatars, can entertain themselves, connect with other users, take classes, even buy and sell.

It attempts to blend digital and real-world experiences as smoothly and seamlessly as possible, and has been dubbed Web 3.0 because of how much it potentially can change and disrupt our current tech realities.

More than 160 companies are already part of this new landscape, including Microsoft and Apple, plus companies that focus on VR hardware and software,  including:

  • Niantic, which created the augmented reality game Pokemon Go
  • Epic Games, which created the popular shared shooting game Fortnite.
  • Nvidia, which includes hardware solutions for graphic design.
  • Decentraland, a virtual world platform that allows users to buy and sell property.

 

Collaborators envision a digital world where resource sharing is encouraged, with all sorts of opportunities for contract developers, game designers, 3D artists, and more. The built-out Metaverse can include places to chat, perform commerce, and play.

Of course, the entire project is still considered ‘under construction,’ as more companies join in and the public learn more about the role it can play.

But with the addition of the Meta properties, Zuckerberg is making clear the idea of territories that will be part of the Metaverse experience. These can be different zones owned by different corporations, such as Microsoft, which users can visit.

Or they can be different countries that are considered self-contained but still can utilize some services, such as China, which has plenty of filters in place against external influences.

 

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