The metaverse is here! Or, part of it is, anyway. But what is the metaverse, and how does the metaverse work?
The Metaverse Explained
As the New York Times explains, “the metaverse is the convergence of two ideas that have been around for many years: virtual reality and a digital second life.” CNET expands on this definition, saying that while these ideas have been around for years, “The current boom in interest is just the most recent peak in a years-long push to make these advances useful to everybody. What’s changed is a shift in understanding, a conviction the internet needs to be reimagined. How far-reaching those changes end up being is anyone’s guess. After all, the road map for the metaverse is half-paved.”
This conviction about these changes to the internet incorporates several key points, which play out in philosophical ideas of what the metaverse is– or can be:
- The metaverse is decentralized. Instead of centralized control, and governmental currencies, the metaverse will be owned by a wide range of developers and users, and cryptocurrencies, blockchain records, and NFTs will be common features.
- Technologies like virtual reality and augmented reality will be central features of the metaverse.
- A visualization of the metaverse as a group of pieces– often called nodes– that interact and are connected through technologies that work together.
But beyond this, it gets fairly hard to visualize what the metaverse will be, or to answer the question, “how does the metaverse work?” The fact that our imagination of what the metaverse might become is limited by the technologies we can imagine today, makes defining the metaverse difficult. Or, as Wired puts it, “To a certain extent, talking about what “the metaverse” means is a bit like having a discussion about what “the internet” means in the 1970s. The building blocks of a new form of communication were in the process of being built, but no one could really know what the reality would look like.”
Is the Metaverse Real?
In a word, yes, the metaverse is real. Or, at least the basic structures are in place, in development, or in the imaginations of developers, innovators, and thinkers. Game designers have been expanding on virtual reality technology for years. Big tech players are pouring money into the development of metaverse tech. CNET explains that Microsoft, Facebook (now called Meta), and more are moving into the metaverse.
The various nodes of the early metaverse are coming into focus, but the tech doesn’t always play well together. So we still have some work to do to figure out what the end version of the metaverse will be.
How Do We Get Into the Metaverse?
How to get into the metaverse depends a great deal on what you want to do there. If you want to be a user, you may want to start getting familiar with VR and AR technologies. If you are interested in the financial aspect, learning as much as you can about cryptocurrencies and NFTs seems wise. If you are a business, you may really benefit from embracing metaverse technologies like AR and 3D product modeling sooner rather than later.
In short, what is the metaverse? It’s the future. And it’s coming.
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