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Taylor Lorenz’s book, Extremely Online, tells the story of influencers and social media

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Taylor Lorenz’s book, Extremely Online, tells the story of influencers and social media

The story of the internet is the story of men pouring money into platforms they don’t understand — and no one understands this better than Taylor Lorenz, the author of the new book Extremely Online: The Untold Story of Fame, Influence, and Power on the Internet, out October 3.

Over the course of the book, which spans from the early 2000s to the present, she charts the rise of blogs and the birth of social media, and specifically the ways that each platform’s power users shaped them for the better and for the worse. It offers context for questions like, “Why, to this day, can no one figure out how to reliably monetize short-form content?” and “Why has Twitter — or X, whatever — always been such a mess?” and “How come tech bros are still trying to make live-streaming happen?” Sprinkled throughout are entertaining anecdotes about why the internet looks and feels the way it is today; who knew, for instance, that part of the reason why brands demand to review sponsored content before it gets posted is because a mommy blogger once included the phrase “hairy vaginas” in an ad for Banana Republic? Or that in the early days of Instagram, Scooter Braun demanded Justin Bieber get paid for posting there? (Instagram called his bluff; he kept posting.) Or what about the group of famous Viners who asked Twitter to pay them a million dollars per year — each — to remain on Vine? (Vine died shortly thereafter; RIP.)

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Taylor Lorenz

Having pioneered the job before most publications were paying attention, Lorenz is practically synonymous with internet culture reporting; as someone who also covers the beat, just last week I had someone compliment me on a story I wrote, except that it was actually Lorenz’s. In our conversation, we chatted about the rise of “followers, not friends,” why platforms are always clamoring for longer content, and how the FTC accidentally made sponcon cool. Our interview has been edited for length and clarity.

You write how Silicon Valley is often portrayed as a group of brilliant, ambitious young men who can see the future, but that social media proved them all wrong. There’s a pattern in the book of men inventing a thing and women mastering and reinventing it. What are some of the ways that happened?

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My book opens with the Silicon Valley version of blog culture, which was a lot of tech and political blogs, and then what women did with it, which was to create the mommy blogger ecosystem by building personal brands, commodifying themselves, and becoming the first influencers. But you see it time and time again — Julia Allison, who was one of the first multi-platform content creators and did what she called “life casting,” would document her outfits, link to things, use affiliate links for revenue generation, and had a YouTube show. The version of social media that the tech people envisioned was turned on its head and very quickly subverted by a lot of really creative and entrepreneurial young women and other marginalized people who ultimately were really disrespected.

For most of the history of social media, Silicon Valley has been incredibly hostile to these power users. [Tech founders] almost resented the power they had on the internet. Once the pandemic hit, they all started talking about the “creator economy” like it was some new thing. They’d maligned it for decades, because it primarily was pioneered by women.

What made the perfect storm for mommy bloggers to really explode during that time?

You had a lot of things happening at once: a super misogynistic traditional media climate, where women’s magazines in the late ’90s and early 2000s didn’t discuss any of the realities of motherhood, and you had these Gen X mothers who were working, they were educated and more progressive than their parents, and living in double income households who were like, “This version of motherhood doesn’t resonate with me at all. I’m gonna turn to the internet and use it as an outlet to talk about how it really is. It’s messy, and it’s hard. Sometimes I hate my husband, and I hate my children, or I can’t breastfeed, or I’m deeply depressed because I have postpartum depression.” The whole idea of the “wine mom” was born out of this era, because a lot of moms talked about turning to substance abuse and were struggling. These things were normalized by the women talking about it.

It also helped that it was text, because a lot of them didn’t even use photos of their children, or used pseudonyms. They were breaking down barriers and normalizing frank discussions about really taboo topics, and it forced the legacy media to adapt and evolve, although they still haven’t totally caught up. But in terms of public discussions of motherhood, now we know postpartum depression exists, and that not all women can breastfeed. It was this perfect timing of the new generation of mothers, the blog ecosystem being born, and then this super patriarchal traditional media.

Looking back now with what we know about online platforms, it’s kind of shocking that MySpace lost out to Facebook, when MySpace was so bullish on internet stardom. Why did it take so long for Facebook to recognize the power of internet creators and people’s hunger for online fame? And what made them finally lean into it?

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I think MySpace was just way too early. For most people, it was not normal to go on the internet and post about yourself. And there wasn’t this follower-based model of social media yet; it was double opt-in, so you had to befriend someone and they had to befriend you.

Facebook was a bridge platform, basically, which is why I think it’s not relevant anymore, because it didn’t lean hard enough into creators until it was too late. Facebook is sort of the epitome of the sanitized, corporate Silicon Valley version of social media. But the Facebook News Feed played such a pivotal role in influencer culture, because it taught everyone to post for an audience.

Instagram ended up being their creator strategy, because Facebook just fumbled the bag so many times. Let’s not forget that when Vine was flailing and all the creators left Vine, before they went to YouTube, they went to Facebook. Facebook Video had all those people, and they squandered it. They had the biggest of all the biggest YouTubers and they couldn’t get the monetization right. They didn’t care about creator monetization, but YouTube had built that out, and they were just in such a better position to absorb that talent.

Why was YouTube early to embrace creators?

What’s crazy is that YouTube could have gone a different way. They saw very early on if they allowed people to make money, that would keep talent there. YouTube was also adjacent enough to the entertainment world where there were standards around paying for content and ad deals. YouTube started as an online video platform, and there were ad models in place for online video, like pre-roll or mid-roll. With Facebook, which was more text-based social media, there wasn’t a norm, there weren’t revenue models, and there weren’t monetization pathways already established. You saw a lot of struggle, like, “Who’s gonna crack monetization?” And actually, no one has cracked it. Look at Twitter. Short text updates are just much harder to monetize.

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Why did influencer collab houses keep coming up and then dying out? Do you think they’ll ever come back in a big way?

Creative young people have always lived together. The Station was the first true content house, because for early internet creators collaboration was so crucial. It was like the primary vehicle for growth because we didn’t have algorithmic discovery mechanisms like we have now. So if you were living in a house and you were constantly collabing with a bunch of people, suddenly you’re following them. Gen Z kids grew up watching the Station and the FaZe Clan house, and then I think they immediately wanted to replicate it on TikTok. But then it got very professionalized, like they started as content creators living together, there was no management company that was trying to extract profit from them, or a brand that was involved or whatever.

Once people started to pay attention to content creators in 2020, all these brands and management companies started these content houses, and that business model failed very quickly, because it’s such a huge liability running a house full of kids. These houses are sort of inherently ephemeral, because certain people become more famous, certain people move on. It’s like being part of a frat — you’re not gonna live there forever. I also think that discovery has changed, so you don’t need to necessarily be living together in the same place to get discovered on YouTube, because we have TikTok and algorithmic discovery handles all of that. The pace of fame is so different: it’s so much faster.

It’s so funny seeing how early Instagram was so explicitly anti-advertising, even anti-self-promotion, when that’s literally the thing we think about when we think about Instagram. Instagram’s community guidelines once even read, “When you engage in self-promotional behavior of any kind on Instagram it makes people who have shared that moment with you feel sad inside … We ask that you keep your interactions on Instagram meaningful and genuine.” But you argue that this inadvertently invented the concept of the “sponsored post.” How did that happen?

They tried to keep it free of advertising while also allowing people to build big followings and spurring that with their “suggested user” list; they created this vehicle for sponsored content. Suddenly, brands desperately wanted to reach people on Instagram, but there was no way to advertise. So they went directly to the creators. That happened very early on: some of the earliest stuff on Instagram was sponsored content, it just wasn’t disclosed or clear what it was. When [Instagram] rolled out ads later, it was like, you couldn’t put the genie back in the bottle. They ended up kind of shooting themselves in the foot because we live in a hyper-capitalist society and everyone has to make money. These content creators recognized the value of fame and attention, and online brands are going to want to reach that audience. I think it was Instagram’s mistake not to realize it sooner and build out some way to facilitate brand deals between creators and big companies because they could have built a really sustainable revenue model around it. They didn’t.

When the Federal Trade Commission sent all those warnings to creators who didn’t disclose sponsored content, everybody thought that would be the end of influencing. Instead, the opposite happened. Why?

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It’s so funny to read articles from that time. They’re gleeful, like, “This is the end of influencers.” Once again, it’s people not understanding how the internet works and not anticipating regulators coming in. It was like gasoline on a fire: What it did was it actually normalized sponsored content and made it aspirational.

At the same time, you also had this very specific genre on YouTube where everyone was doing pranks and staged drama — why did YouTube incentivize those things?

This was like peak daily vlogging, when [YouTube] started to reward people who posted more frequently. Casey Neistat really kicked this off, but it was embraced by Vine creators, who leaped off Vine onto YouTube and brought their publishing schedules with them. That was how they grew — they had to constantly think of content, but there’s no way to create 24/7 interesting, engaging organic content. Nobody’s life is that interesting. So you had to stage a lot. You had to always up the ante and make things more and more extreme to get attention because it was so competitive, because everyone was posting every day. I think that’s what led to this prank culture. A lot of it also came from Vine — they were a new class of creators who were ridiculous men, and they brought that energy to YouTube and then YouTube incentivized it. Things got very out of hand really quickly.

This seemed to lead pretty directly to the Adpocalypse, when YouTubers became liabilities because they kept producing increasingly extreme content for views. What ripple effects did that have on the wider creator economy?

Advertisers were thrilled to reach people on YouTube. They were pouring tons of money into YouTube, and they weren’t thinking about it because internet culture at this point was so secondary to mainstream pop culture. The mainstream media did not pay attention to it at all aside from tabloids, and their coverage was very promotional.

Suddenly, in 2017, a lot more criticism was focused on tech. You had Trump sworn in, and everyone started to look at these platforms and start to question, “Wait a minute, are these platforms good, or are they bad?” People actually started to pay attention to what was going on on these platforms. [There was] that Wall Street Journal story about PewDiePie, the biggest YouTuber, and you saw the mainstream media doing hard reporting and looking into it and being critical. That led advertisers to freak out and pull all of their dollars, and it really hurt a lot of creators. The biggest content creators, like the Logan Pauls and the PewDiePies of the world, ultimately were totally fine. But it did wipe out and harm a lot of mid-level and small creators, because they suddenly didn’t have the advertising revenue that they had previously. I think that made a lot of YouTubers very hostile to the media, because they always blamed the media for that. Everyone I interviewed was like, “Well, if the media didn’t write these stories and get all inflammatory…” and it’s like, no, if YouTube didn’t incentivize this content.

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The Adpocalypse and algorithm changes and the pressure of posting every day made a lot of creators ultimately quit altogether. What I’m wondering is — did the platforms even care? Like, did that even affect YouTube’s bottom line? Or were they secretly kind of happy about it?

YouTube ultimately did not do very much. They’ll probably claim that they did, but they really didn’t look at how burnt out everyone was. Today everyone’s just as burnt out, if not more, because now they have to make [YouTube] Shorts content. But I do think it was the first recognition that this job is incredibly hard on your mental health. People had talked about it, but it wasn’t really a public discussion until then. That was also when you saw a lot of “I’m leaving BuzzFeed videos,” remember? Everyone just started to be like, “Wait a minute, this is so hard, and I’m actually depressed, and this isn’t the dream you think it is.”

With that conversation, there started to be an acknowledgment of the labor behind it. You started to see people take it more seriously, but unfortunately, a lot of creators got chewed up and spit out and there was no lasting change and the Internet chugged along. And that’s how it always goes, right? The internet destroys people’s mental health every day, and we’re not changing the system. If you take a week off, there’s people that will replace you. It’s not like there’s a shortage of people posting online. That’s why companies sell this illusion that anybody can make it on the internet and anybody can be the next Mr. Beast, because they need people to believe that so that they keep posting and investing and making things for their platform.

Taylor Lorenzs book Extremely Online tells the story of influencers

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You end the book with a call for people to learn from the last 20 years of internet culture. What are the most important lessons, now that we’re in this world where everyone is encouraged to be a creator of some kind or already is?

Another theme of my book is this notion of users seizing more control over platforms, and I do think we actually have an enormous amount of collective power over them. It’s always a push-and-pull dynamic, but these platforms have shown that they are responsive to public pressure time and time again. If we want better platforms, we need to hold them accountable and force change, because they’re never going to change unless we make them. [We need to] build better spaces online that are less profit-driven and horrible.

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Another theme is online misogyny, and I hope people can reexamine this recent history of the internet and look at women, who pioneered all this amazing stuff and never got credit and never saw the upside. Misogyny and hate are so pervasive and I just hope that people can read it and recognize how we got to where we are.

I’m very against the notion that logging off is good for your mental health. There’s this idea that our phones and the internet are destroying everything and making us miserable. I think that’s not true. It’s the platforms, but it’s not the internet as a whole. If you look at what the internet facilitated — the good parts of the internet — it’s a tool for human connection. I don’t think we want to live in a less-connected world, because then you have institutions with an enormous amount of power, and it sucks. I think we just need to build a more positive internet and build better platforms to spend time on, but I don’t think people should retreat away. Connection is valuable. We all want connection, we all want validation, and that is what the internet can provide. But we need these hyper-capitalist, monopolistic tech platforms to get out of the way.

This column was first published in the Vox Culture newsletter. Sign up here so you don’t miss the next one, plus get newsletter exclusives.

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Christian family goes in hiding after being cleared of blasphemy

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Christian family goes in hiding after being cleared of blasphemy

LAHORE, Pakistan — A court in Pakistan granted bail to a Christian falsely charged with blasphemy, but he and his family have separated and gone into hiding amid threats to their lives, sources said.

Haroon Shahzad (right) with attorney Aneeqa Maria. | The Voice Society/Morning Star News

Haroon Shahzad, 45, was released from Sargodha District Jail on Nov. 15, said his attorney, Aneeqa Maria. Shahzad was charged with blasphemy on June 30 after posting Bible verses on Facebook that infuriated Muslims, causing dozens of Christian families in Chak 49 Shumaali, near Sargodha in Punjab Province, to flee their homes.

Lahore High Court Judge Ali Baqir Najfi granted bail on Nov. 6, but the decision and his release on Nov. 15 were not made public until now due to security fears for his life, Maria said.

Shahzad told Morning Star News by telephone from an undisclosed location that the false accusation has changed his family’s lives forever.

“My family has been on the run from the time I was implicated in this false charge and arrested by the police under mob pressure,” Shahzad told Morning Star News. “My eldest daughter had just started her second year in college, but it’s been more than four months now that she hasn’t been able to return to her institution. My other children are also unable to resume their education as my family is compelled to change their location after 15-20 days as a security precaution.”

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Though he was not tortured during incarceration, he said, the pain of being away from his family and thinking about their well-being and safety gave him countless sleepless nights.

“All of this is due to the fact that the complainant, Imran Ladhar, has widely shared my photo on social media and declared me liable for death for alleged blasphemy,” he said in a choked voice. “As soon as Ladhar heard about my bail, he and his accomplices started gathering people in the village and incited them against me and my family. He’s trying his best to ensure that we are never able to go back to the village.”

Shahzad has met with his family only once since his release on bail, and they are unable to return to their village in the foreseeable future, he said.

“We are not together,” he told Morning Star News. “They are living at a relative’s house while I’m taking refuge elsewhere. I don’t know when this agonizing situation will come to an end.”

The Christian said the complainant, said to be a member of Islamist extremist party Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan and also allegedly connected with banned terrorist group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, filed the charge because of a grudge. Shahzad said he and his family had obtained valuable government land and allotted it for construction of a church building, and Ladhar and others had filed multiple cases against the allotment and lost all of them after a four-year legal battle.

“Another probable reason for Ladhar’s jealousy could be that we were financially better off than most Christian families of the village,” he said. “I was running a successful paint business in Sargodha city, but that too has shut down due to this case.”

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Regarding the social media post, Shahzad said he had no intention of hurting Muslim sentiments by sharing the biblical verse on his Facebook page.

“I posted the verse a week before Eid Al Adha [Feast of the Sacrifice] but I had no idea that it would be used to target me and my family,” he said. “In fact, when I came to know that Ladhar was provoking the villagers against me, I deleted the post and decided to meet the village elders to explain my position.”

The village elders were already influenced by Ladhar and refused to listen to him, Shahzad said.

“I was left with no option but to flee the village when I heard that Ladhar was amassing a mob to attack me,” he said.

Shahzad pleaded with government authorities for justice, saying he should not be punished for sharing a verse from the Bible that in no way constituted blasphemy.

Similar to other cases

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Shahzad’s attorney, Maria, told Morning Star News that events in Shahzad’s case were similar to other blasphemy cases filed against Christians.

“Defective investigation, mala fide on the part of the police and complainant, violent protests against the accused persons and threats to them and their families, forcing their displacement from their ancestral areas, have become hallmarks of all blasphemy allegations in Pakistan,” said Maria, head of The Voice Society, a Christian paralegal organization.

She said that the case filed against Shahzad was gross violation of Section 196 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), which states that police cannot register a case under the Section 295-A blasphemy statute against a private citizen without the approval of the provincial government or federal agencies.

Maria added that Shahzad and his family have continued to suffer even though there was no evidence of blasphemy.

“The social stigma attached with a blasphemy accusation will likely have a long-lasting impact on their lives, whereas his accuser, Imran Ladhar, would not have to face any consequence of his false accusation,” she said.

The judge who granted bail noted that Shahzad was charged with blasphemy under Section 295-A, which is a non-cognizable offense, and Section 298, which is bailable. The judge also noted that police had not submitted the forensic report of Shahzad’s cell phone and said evidence was required to prove that the social media was blasphemous, according to Maria.

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Bail was set at 100,000 Pakistani rupees (US $350) and two personal sureties, and the judge ordered police to further investigate, she said.

Shahzad, a paint contractor, on June 29 posted on his Facebook page 1 Cor. 10:18-21 regarding food sacrificed to idols, as Muslims were beginning the four-day festival of Eid al-Adha, which involves slaughtering an animal and sharing the meat.

A Muslim villager took a screenshot of the post, sent it to local social media groups and accused Shahzad of likening Muslims to pagans and disrespecting the Abrahamic tradition of animal sacrifice.

Though Shahzad made no comment in the post, inflammatory or otherwise, the situation became tense after Friday prayers when announcements were made from mosque loudspeakers telling people to gather for a protest, family sources previously told Morning Star News.

Fearing violence as mobs grew in the village, most Christian families fled their homes, leaving everything behind.

In a bid to restore order, the police registered a case against Shahzad under Sections 295-A and 298. Section 295-A relates to “deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs” and is punishable with imprisonment of up to 10 years and fine, or both. Section 298 prescribes up to one year in prison and a fine, or both, for hurting religious sentiments.

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Pakistan ranked seventh on Open Doors’ 2023 World Watch List of the most difficult places to be a Christian, up from eighth the previous year.

Morning Star News is the only independent news service focusing exclusively on the persecution of Christians. The nonprofit’s mission is to provide complete, reliable, even-handed news in order to empower those in the free world to help persecuted Christians, and to encourage persecuted Christians by informing them that they are not alone in their suffering.

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Individual + Team Stats: Hornets vs. Timberwolves

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CHARLOTTE HORNETS MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES You can follow us for future coverage by liking us on Facebook & following us on X: Facebook – All Hornets X – …

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What went wrong with ‘the Metaverse’? An insider’s postmortem

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What went wrong with 'the Metaverse'? An insider's postmortem


It’s now two years since Facebook changed its name to Meta, ushering in a brief but blazing enthusiasm over “the Metaverse”, a concept from science fiction that suddenly seemed to be the next inevitable leap in technology. For most people in tech, however, the term has since lost its luster, seemingly supplanted by any product with “artificial intelligence” attached to its description. 

But the true story of the Metaverse’s rise and fall in public awareness is much more complicated and interesting than simply being the short life cycle of a buzzword — it also reflects a collective failure of both imagination and understanding.  

Consider:

The forgotten novel

Ironically, many tech reporters discounted or even ignored the profound influence of Snow Crash on actual working technologists. The founders of Roblox and Epic (creator of Fortnite) among many other developers were directly inspired by the novel. Despite that, Neal Stephenson’s classic cyberpunk tale has often been depicted as if it were an obscure dystopian tome which merely coined the term. As opposed to what it actually did: describe the concept with a biblical specificity that thousands of developers have referenced in their virtual world projects — many of which have already become extremely popular.

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Snow Crash.

You can see this lack of clarity in many of the mass tech headlines attempting to describe the Metaverse in the wake of Facebook’s name change: 

In a widely shared “obituary” to the Metaverse, Business Insider’s Ed Zitron even compounded the confusion still further by inexplicably misattributing the concept to TRON, the original Disney movie from the 80s.

Had the media referenced Snow Crash far more accurately when the buzz began, they’d come away with a much better understanding of why so many technologists are excited by the Metaverse concept — and realize its early incarnation is already gaining strong user traction.  

Because in the book, the Metaverse is a vast, immersive virtual world that’s simultaneously accessible by millions of people through highly customizable avatars and powerful experience creation tools that are integrated with the offline world through its virtual economy and external technology. In other words, it’s more or less like Roblox and Fortnite — platforms with many tens of millions of active users. 

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But then again, the tech media can’t be fully blamed for following Mark Zuckerberg’s lead.

Rather than create a vision for its Metaverse iterating on already successful platforms — Roblox’s 2020 IPO filing even describes itself as the metaverse — Meta’s executive leadership cobbled together a mishmash of disparate products. Most of which, such as remotely working in VR headsets, remain far from proven. According to an internal Blind survey, a majority of Zuckerberg’s own employees say he has not adequately explained what he means by the Metaverse even to them.

Grievous of all, Zuckerberg and his CTO Andrew Bosworth promoted a conception of the Metaverse in which the Quest headset was central. To do so, they had to overlook compelling evidence — raised by senior Microsoft researcher danah boyd at the time of the company acquiring Oculus in 2014 — that females have a high propensity to get nauseous using VR.

Meta Quest 3 comes out on October 10 for $500.
Meta Quest 3.

Contacted in late 2022 while writing Making a Metaverse That Matters, danah told me no one at Oculus or Meta followed up with her about the research questions she raised. Over the years, I have asked several senior Meta staffers (past and present) about this and have yet to receive an adequate reply. Unsurprisingly, Meta’s Quest 2 VR headset has an estimated install base of only about 20 million units, significantly smaller than the customer count of leading video game consoles. A product that tends to make half the population puke is not exactly destined for the mass market — let alone a reliable base for building the Metaverse. 

Ironically, Neal Stephenson himself has frequently insisted that virtual reality is absolutely not a prerequisite for the Metaverse, since flat screens display immersive virtual worlds just fine. But here again, the tech media instead ratified Meta’s flawed VR-centric vision by constantly illustrating articles about the Metaverse with photos of people happily donning headsets to access it — inadvertently setting up a straw man destined to soon go ablaze.

Duct-taped to yet another buzzword

Further sealing the Metaverse hype wave’s fate, it crested around the same time that Web3 and crypto were still enjoying their own euphoria period. This inevitably spawned the “cryptoverse” with platforms like Decentraland and The Sandbox. When the crypto crash came, it was easy to assume the Metaverse was also part of that fall.

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But the cryptoverse platforms failed in the same way that other crypto schemes have gone awry: By offering a virtual world as a speculative opportunity, it primarily attracted crypto speculators, not virtual world enthusiasts. By October of 2022, Decentraland was only tracking 7,000 daily active users, game industry analyst Lars Doucet informed me

“Everybody who is still playing is basically just playing poker,” as Lars put it. “This seems to be a kind of recurring trend in dead-end crypto projects. Kind of an eerie rhyme with left-behind American cities where drugs come in and anyone who is left is strung out at a slot machine parlor or liquor store.”

All this occurred as the rise of generative AI birthed another, shinier buzzword — one that people not well-versed in immersive virtual worlds could better understand.

But as “the Metaverse” receded as a hype totem, a hilarious thing happened: Actual metaverse platforms continued growing. Roblox now counts over 300 million monthly active users, making its population nearly the size of the entire United States; Fortnite had its best usage day in 6 years. Meta continues plodding along but seems to finally be learning from its mistakes — for instance, launching a mobile version of its metaverse platform Horizon Worlds.  

Roblox leads the rise of user-generated content.
Roblox.

Into this mix, a new wave of metaverse platforms is preparing to launch, refreshingly led by seasoned, successful game developers: Raph Koster with Playable Worlds, Jenova Chen with his early, successful forays into metaverse experiences, and Everywhere, a metaverse platform lead developed by a veteran of the Grand Theft Auto franchise.

At some point, everyone in tech who co-signed the “death” of the Metaverse may notice this sustained growth. By then however, the term may no longer require much usage, just as the term “information superhighway” fell away as broadband Internet went mainstream.  

Wagner James Au is author of Making a Metaverse That Matters: From Snow Crash & Second Life to A Virtual World Worth Fighting For 

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