There will be a digital life after the Internet. Not in the sense that our digital infrastructure might collapse. Rather, there will come a social invention that outdoes the Internet, believe it or not. That invention, it appears, will be the Metaverse – a culmination of the Internet and the boundless possibilities in augmented and virtual reality technologies.
The internet has done a lot of the grunt work in bringing information, services, and experiences online. But there are more efficient ways to deliver, discover, and interact with everything that exists on the Internet.
To understand how the Internet will evolve into the metaverse, I’ll give you an analogy.
Before the Internet, when it came to finding travel information for a future vacation or a city you were visiting, you had to either visit the library, call up a travel agent, or browse through pamphlets at a rest stop. It was not efficient and you’d be hard pressed to find everything a city had to offer.
Then, the Internet brought us a beautiful website called TripAdvisor, which crowd-sourced reviews and prices on everything about a city – ranging from restaurants to accommodations. It amplified the amount of information we could get about travel, while also removing any singular authority on the subject.
In the metaverse, you’ll put on your Magic Leap goggles or Oculus headset and be transported to the city you want to visit. You’ll be able to take virtual city tours, browse the attractions, see what’s cooking at the best restaurants – simultaneously adding the things you like to an actionable itinerary for when you visit one day. It’s a culmination of the travel agent, Internet information, and personal judgment.
This is just one way that the metaverse will evolve the Internet.
We’ve digitized so many experiences, services, and information. However, they all exist in their own isolated buckets across the web – loosely connected by links, Google Search, and the occasional social media post.
The metaverse, on the other hand, is a virtual, shared space where all these luxuries the Internet has brought us can be better connected and exist simultaneously. The metaverse will rely heavily on virtual reality and augmented reality to provide the digital infrastructure for all these connected experiences to coexist – however, as I described, a large portion of the metaverse is already in existence on the Internet. It’s just in a 2D format right now.
You Already Use the Metaverse.
We find love through apps like Tinder, we file our taxes online with TurboTax, we trust the opinions of complete digital strangers through Yelp, we find the answers to all of our questions on Quora and blogs, we trust our most precious pictorial memories to be secured by digital giants.
So much of our lives exist in the digital world. Every website and online service we use is a part of the metaverse – it’s just in a 2D format. So how will our most common online actions be improved in the metaverse?
In each of the following examples, I outline how a specific service, action, or experience existed 1) before the Internet 2) with the Internet 3) after the Internet in the metaverse.
- Collaborating on projects at work consisted of a conference room meeting or you sent out memos and people reported back to you individually.
- Google Docs and Google Sheets gave us the ability to have multiple people collaborate on the same document simultaneously, while Zoom and Skype gave us the video chat and screen sharing technology to share what we were working on from anywhere.
- Experiences in the metaverse will allow us to collaborate on the same project but also be digitally beside our coworkers. It’ll connect the two disparate experiences of FaceTime and Google Docs – allowing for unbridled collaboration and a feeling of being in the same room.
- Clothes shopping before the Internet was an event that happened every season and you browsed malls or stores until you settled for what you needed.
- The Internet gave us e-commerce stores, endless shopping malls from our couch, and unlimited store hours – any time of day you can buy. Social media presents us with new styles constantly, Google Lens and Pinterest Visual Lens let us search the Internet for photos of people with that item of clothing on to see what it looks like on a person.
- The metaverse will take the best of e-commerce unlimited shopping, the discoverability of social media, and the endless “action” photos and reviews and put them all in one place. The moment you see something you like, the metaverse will find the images of others who’ve worn it and let you get a feel for how it’ll look on you.
- Music collection used to be a record shelf / shelves or a large rack of CDs.
- Music streaming services have given us nearly all the music in existence for $10/month.
- The metaverse will bring us back to the intimacy of having your shelf of favorite music, but with the unlimited nature that the digital world offers… Oh yeah, and you could invite friends/strangers over to listen to your playlist – thus connecting with people over the music you love.
Personal Support Groups
- If you were lucky, you had friends you could count on to always be great listeners, perhaps someone who went through the same experiences as you and could offer up meaningful advice. Head shrinks and addiction groups offered an alternative where you could count on help, but not necessarily from the friendly folks you trust.
- The Internet helped us find our tribes of friends that were going through the same thing as us. Reddit communities, facebook groups, blogs, chatrooms, etc. gave us each a chance to anonymously vent our frustrations and receive genuine help without feeling exposed.
- The metaverse will take the same greatness that the Internet brought us in the way of support, except add the physical presence and real-time interaction. It’ll still remain anonymous, if desired.
I could literally go on and on about the metaverse and how it’ll improve upon the Internet. In fact, I will on May 22nd at
Anyways, the metaverse is literally infinite – like our own personal cosmos that we can each control. The thing, though, is that all of this doesn’t exist without digital maps.
Mapping the Metaverse.
Maps give us a visual understanding of how different things, places, or information relates to one another. Maps come in a variety of formats and will be crucial in creating order in the metaverse. Without digital maps to create relationships between these evolved experiences in the metaverse, the metaverse will fall to the same fate as the Internet – a lot of useful, but unconnected things.
We can create the metaverse entirely from scratch, which is basically how it happens in the book/film Ready, Player One. However, it behooves us to replicate at least some of what already exists in the physical world.
Google Earth has done some of the
John Hanke [Founder of Google Earth and Niantic Labs, the creator of Pokemon Go] is interested in what he calls “human-scale mapping of the pedestrian world” – all the indoor, private spaces you can’t see on Google Earth right now. These are the maps that are going to be necessary to support a future dominated by augmented reality – one Hanke believes will be dominated by augmented reality glasses.Katharine Schwab, Fast Company
That’s a quote coming from the guy who created the software that would become Google Earth (also provided the CIA with defense mapping databases prior) and then created the first sensational AR video game (Pokemon Go), which generated more than $2.3 billion in revenue. We should listen to him when it comes to mapping our “pedestrian world”.
It should be noted that metaverse experiences of the “pedestrian world” already exist. If you’re on Google Street View, you’ll occasionally come across a savvy business that has a 360º video of their store. Essentially, they’re contributing to the metaverse by logging the interior of their store and also improving the availability of their business – making it easier for consumers to get a feel for their business before visiting.
If you’re a business, you at least need to have a 360º video of your interior for people to see. We’ll eventually get to the point where you can set up your own service-offering in the metaverse and actually make money from users in the metaverse. However, you need a presence first.
Overall, the internet did a beautiful job bringing information, services, and experiences online. The metaverse is what will turn all of these essential parts of being a human into a more societal structure. In the same way that strip malls localized everything a family needs to do to run errands, a business park has everything from chiropractors to dentists to law offices, and highways made it quick to get between entire cities and cultures.
Why We Need the Metaverse.
You’re probably wondering at this point why we even need the metaverse if it’s literally a reflection of the physical world’s offerings. The reflection of the physical world, though, is just the basis for the metaverse
The metaverse goes way further than the physical world by being extremely accessible. It’s the fact that with a $200 Oculus Go headset, a twelve-year-old girl in rural, cornfield Wisconsin can put on the Oculus Go and feel the hustle and bustle of Time Square. Minutes later, she can be transported to the Sydney Opera House in Australia and enjoy a live performance with people from all over the world.VR will create the most opportunities by 2023
Not everyone is born in populated places where there
isvibrant life experiences happening at all times of the day. Many suburban and even urban youth never get exposed to new cultures outside of their own and therefore are limited in the lifethey can dream of having.
The metaverse also relinquishes us from many of the limits of the physical world. There’s no limit to the amount of space we can utilize and build upon. We don’t have to worry about factoring in time for travel to see new places.
In the metaverse, you’re free to explore any possible lifestyle you wish. Not to mention, entirely new economies of trade and service will open up.
Although the metaverse seems like a reflection, a clone of the physical world. It’s actually a more powerful version. The metaverse is going to be big. Mark my words.
If you want to get ahead of this massive opportunity, reserve your seat to the Inevitable/Human digital hangout on May 22nd at