September 24, 2023

Destination Is Not Metaverse, That’s Metaphor

It’s as meta as this receives. Stanford Prof. Jeremy Bailenson and I stayed next to his pupils in a virtual classroom after wearing VR headsets, our animated characters observing theirs debate the existence of virtual presence. His students, however, were not “there.” The conversation was taped. The teacher and I stood among the ghosts as living avatars.

Bailenson, the director of Stanford’s Virtual Human Contact Lab, after which paused the video and started walking through the class. With his avatar cruising, he clarified how these replays will provide additional insight in with what social interaction would be like in the metaverse. Of course, he has no idea what he’ll find, much like the numerous companies which are now promoting this much-hyped but also as the next growth of the internet.

Bailenson dislikes the term metaverse. He favors virtual reality to reality. But, regardless of what it’s termed, he recognizes its presence.

We’re at a point in time where we can do things which I’ve been individually discussing for twenty years even though I began in VR in 1999, he informed me once I put on a Vr headset Quest 2 headset and decided to join his course via Engage, an interactive virtual creation app.

For years, the term metaverse has floated all around the internet. First, it was a theoretical construct – sci-fi writer Neal Stephenson invented the phrase in his 1992 book Snow Crash – that reflected existing behaviors in internet groups. It has resurfaced over time. Vr technology has been in use for decades, beginning with 2nd Life in the early 2000s and continuing with Minecraft, Roblox, Fortnite, and new arrivals such as Decentraland and a slew of others. It’s a hot topic at cutting-edge meetings like the recently concluded SXSW festival as well as the Game Creators Conference, which begins Monday.

The metaverse’s concept is constantly changing. Many people are referring to it as a continual shared digital world for conferences, game modes, and socializing. Avatars, frequently cartoon-like 3D statistics, congregate in virtual halls, hold meetings, and then depart. Some see the virtual world as a stack on top of an existing internet, a collection of broadening protocols and standards apps and platforms to communicate with one another. It’s uncertain whether there will be a solitary metaverse, numerous metaverses, or a mix of the two. Perhaps it’s best watched as a metaphor for such internet’s ever-changing nature.

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