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How will universities utilise the metaverse in the future?

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Enthusiasts say the metaverse would eventually allow online experiences, like meeting a friend, to feel face-to-face thanks to virtual reality headsets. — © AFP

The prospect of the Metaverse has garnered considerable interest. While other platforms for virtual reality socialising exist already like VRChat, the Metaverse is set to create a whole new Internet. The concept is to create a link between multiple 3D universes with specific applications like VRChat existing within it.

In terms of applications useful to society, implementing virtual reality into education could have a positive impact for students and the social aspect of school and university. Over the past few years, remote learning has become a key issue for students, according to researchers from Heriot-Watt University.

With the World Economic Forum reporting that registrations for online courses shot to 92 million in 2021. However, learning over video calls can have an effect on students’ engagement, as reported by Ofqual. This could mean by improving the online environment in which students learn, the social and creative element of the Metaverse could change how students learn and interact positively.

Range of motion

The equipment available to a student will have an influence on the style of avatar they create. While there is a lot of room for creativity and innovation when making an avatar, the two main types of avatars that currently being used are VR avatars and full-body avatars.

VR avatars give the user a first-person perspective from the point of view of your avatar. Using the headset and controllers that come with standard VR kits, you can look around and it will track your upper body. These avatars can be limited, as they don’t account for your legs, but they’re the easiest to implement and get started with as they are easy to develop games and programs for them.

Tracking your full body is possible and full-body avatars do exist. However, these require advanced full-boy sensor recognition using additional trackers that won’t come standard with commercially available headsets.

Having a more advanced range of motion for online learning could see students feeling more engaged with learning. They can offer you something similar to traditional in-person learning through the internet.

Plenty of room for creativity

When creating the appearance of the avatar, the user might be wondering whether to make it ultra-realistic or lean more into the cartoony or abstract. There are some tools currently available to the public to help build these augmented avatars such as 8th Wall and Ready Player Me, but how much should these avatars reflect real life?

Optimally, the advice is to fall somewhere in the middle of realism and abstract. The current limitations of VR and technology available to us means more cartoony avatars are a good solution, as they are not having to track every small expression from your face and are rather just tracking your words.

Being represented by an avatar created in our own image but with tweaks to make them even more unique to the individual could help to engage more with the social elements of student life. Plus, it could allow people to feel more comfortable in this new digital environment by having something they’ve created represent them and could result in them contributing more to learning sessions.

Customising an avatar from the ground up doesn’t just include hairstyle and eye colour, but the clothing as well. Changing outfits at the start of each day in the Metaverse will become just like picking which t-shirt to match your outfit in real life.

NFTs

A recent phenomenon that goes hand-in-hand with the Metaverse is NFTs. Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) are a digital ledger that can be bought and sold. Each NFT has a digital certificate of authenticity so when you buy it, you know you’re the only one who owns it. While they tend to be art pieces that are either static or in motion, they are also branching out into other forms.

The introduction of NFTs to the public will also have a huge impact on the Metaverse, as you’ll be able to purchase items of clothing unique to you and a select few. Nike have already jumped on this, purchasing virtual trainer designers RTFKT (“artifact”) and have released a collection of purchasable shoes for Metaverse avatars.

The collection contained 20,000 NFT trainers called the Nike Dunk Genesis Cryptokicks. Since their release, they have been bought by enthusiasts for 2.5 to 3 ether, which translates to £5750–£6900. Some of the trainers are rarer than others depending on the skin, with one pair selling for 150 ether, the equivalent of nearly £350,000. The prices for NFT items are likely to come down once the Metaverse becomes more integrated into everyday life, but the popularity of the tokens already available to purchase shows that the market is there.

The world of online learning will evolve considerably with the influence of the Metaverse. Taking students from a video call and giving them a 3D world to roam around and discover could solve the engagement issues that currently exist within that learning space. Creating an avatar can inspire creativity and help you feel more connected within a virtual reality. Finding the balance between a realistic and cartoony appearance, as well as customising to the fullest and figuring out the range of motion will have you ready for all angles of the VR world.

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Twitter Tests New Quick Boost Option for Tweets

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Twitter Tests New Quick Boost Option for Tweets

Here’s the difficult thing with Twitter no longer having a comms department – now, there’s nowhere to go to confirm info about the app’s latest updates and features, and where each is available, etc.

Case in point – this week, Twitter appears to have launched a new in-stream boost option for tweets, which provides a quick and easy way to promote your tweet without having to launch a full ad campaign.

As you can see in these screenshots, posted by Jonah Manzano (and shared by Matt Navarra), the new boost option would be available direct from a tweet. You’d simply tap through, select a budget, and you would be able to boost your tweet then and there.

Which seems to be new, but also seems familiar.

It’s sort of like Twitter’s Quick Promote option, but an even more streamlined version, with new visuals and a new UI for boosting a tweet direct from the details screen.

Tweet boost

So it does seem like a new addition – but again, with no one at Twitter to ask, it’s hard to confirm detail about the option.

But from what we can tell, this is a new Twitter ad process, which could provide another way to set an objective, a budget, and basic targeting parameters to reach a broader audience in the app.

Which could be good, depending on performance, and there may well be some tweets that you just want to quickly boost and push out to more people, without launching a full campaign.

It could also be a good way for Twitter to bring in a few more ad dollars, and it could be worth experimenting with to see what result you get, based on the simplified launch process.

If it’s available to you. We’d ask Twitter where this is being made available, but we can’t. So maybe you’ll see it in the app, maybe not.

Thus is the enigma of Twitter 2.0.



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Twitter faces lawsuit by advisory firm for $1.9 million in unpaid bills

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Twitter faces lawsuit by advisory firm for $1.9 million in unpaid bills

US-based advisory firm Innisfree M&A Incorporated sued Twitter on Friday in New York State Supreme Court, seeking about $1.9 million compensation for what it says are unpaid bills. Reuters File Photo

New York: US-based advisory firm Innisfree M&A Incorporated sued Twitter on Friday in New York State Supreme Court, seeking about $1.9 million compensation for what it says are unpaid bills after it advised the social media company on its acquisition by Elon Musk last year.

“As of December 23, 2022, Twitter remains in default of its obligations to Innisfree under the agreement in an amount of not less than $1,902,788.03,” the lawsuit said.

Twitter and a lawyer for Innisfree did not respond to queries.

Elon Musk in October closed the $44 billion deal announced in April that year and took over microblogging platform Twitter.

In January 2023, Britain’s Crown Estate, an independent commercial business that manages the property portfolio belonging to the monarchy, said that it had begun court proceedings against Twitter over alleged unpaid rent on its London headquarters.

Advertising spending on Twitter Inc dropped by 71% in December, data from an advertising research firm showed, as top advertisers slashed their spending on the social-media platform after Musk’s takeover.

The banks that had provided $13 billion in financing last year for the Tesla chief executive’s acquisition of Twitter abandoned plans to sell the debt to investors because of uncertainty around the social media company’s fortunes and losses, according to media reports.

Recently, Twitter made its first interest payment on a loan that banks provided to help finance Musk’s purchase of the social media company last year.

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Twitter Expands Access to Twitter Blue, Announces New Incentives for Signing Up

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Twitter Expands Access to Twitter Blue, Announces New Incentives for Signing Up

Twitter is making its next big push on Twitter Blue subscriptions, as Elon Musk and Co. look to build Twitter Blue into a more significant revenue driver for the app.

First off, Twitter has now expanded Twitter Blue access to Saudi Arabia, France, Germany, Italy, Portugal and Spain, which will enable millions more Twitter users to potentially sign-up for a verification tick.

I mean, most probably won’t, going on what we’ve seen thus far, but it will likely swell Twitter Blue sign-ups by another few thousand, adding more cash to Twitter’s coffers.

Twitter’s also looking to further incentivize Blue sign-up by offering revenue share for ads shown in reply threads.

The idea here is that if users write interesting tweets, they would get compensated for the discussion they generate – but you need to be signed up to Twitter Blue to get it.

Elon hasn’t shared any further info on potential revenue split or process at this stage.

Twitter’s also looking to bring back an improved Spaces/podcast experience, as a Twitter Blue exclusive, while Musk has also hinted at allowing some users to avoid having to pay for basic API access, when it becomes unavailable next week, if they sign-up.

Oh, and Twitter’s gold checkmarks for business? Yeah, they’re likely going to be expensive if you want them.

Can’t imagine many brands are going to fork out $12,000 a year for a profile badge, along with $50 per staff member you want to add.

But maybe, Elon and Co. have some more tricks up their sleeve here, and they’ll eventually offer more incentives for businesses to sign-up.

But right now, that’s pretty steep.

And also, ‘legacy’ checkmarks will apparently be gone within the next few months.

All of these elements combined could juice Twitter Blue take-up, though it’s still hard to see it becoming the major contributor to Twitter’s revenue as Elon envisions.

At present, based on third-party tracking, the new Twitter Blue program looks to have around 300,000 subscribers, bringing in an extra $2.4 million per month, and $7.2 million per quarter.

Which is pretty good – but again, it’s still a long way from where Twitter wants subscription revenue to be.

When initially outlining his Twitter 2.0 reformation plans, Musk said that he wants to make subscription revenue around 50% of Twitter’s overall intake. That would serve two purposes – if the majority of users sign-up, Twitter can then use Twitter Blue as a form of ‘payment verification’, meaning that those accounts that don’t have a blue tick are increasingly likely to be bots. It would also reduce Twitter’s reliance on ads, which would give Musk more freedom to make moderation decisions as he likes, without considering potential ad placement concerns.

But in order to do this, Twitter needs a lot more users to sign up.

Twitter’s revenue in Q2 2022, the last time it publicly reported its numbers, was $1.18 billion, meaning that Twitter Blue would need to be bringing in around $590 million per quarter to meet that 50% goal.

Which is about 81x what Twitter Blue is currently bringing in, while at 300k sign-ups, that’s also only 0.12% of Twitter’s active user base that’s currently paying for a blue tick.

That’s likely why Twitter is making a new push on the program, in a bid to jack those numbers up, and maybe, in combination with businesses that do end up forking over $1k per month, it could become a more significant element in Twitter’s revenue make-up.

But 50% of revenue still seems like a lofty goal.

It’s also still confusing as to why anyone would pay, because as soon as you do, you’re devaluing the whole point of the verification checkmark in the first place.

The initial blue ticks were designed to delineate noteworthy users and organizations, which Twitter didn’t always get right, but for the most part, you knew that a blue tick account was likely someone who had relevant, authoritative things to say.   

Now, it’s just anyone who can afford it, and with Twitter looking to increase the reach of tweets from Blue accounts, that also means that the app is increasingly becoming more ‘pay to play’ for regular users, with the blue ticks becoming increasingly meaningless from a functional perspective.

And the logic behind them becomes more diluted with every person who signs up. Eventually, all the blue checkmark will mean is that this person can afford to pay – and who cares? Why do they need a blue tick, from a user perspective, to show that they have enough money to spend?

It sort of feels like the NFT trend of 2021, but worse, because it’s replacing an existing system that did serve a purpose.

In any event, Twitter’s not backing away from its Blue subscription plan, and its hopes of maximizing revenue intake, in any way it can, to keep the company afloat.

Which, given the extra debt it’s been saddled with in the Elon deal, is even tougher than ever – but maybe, in combination with everything else, subscriptions will form enough of an extra income stream to meaningfully contribute to its plans.



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