So what exactly is the metaverse – or more operatively, what will the metaverse be?
Because it’s not here just yet. Meta, the biggest proponent of the metaverse shift, has repeatedly stated that the metaverse that it envisions is still 10-15 years away from being a reality, which means that the true metaverse will be built for the next generation of consumers, who will be key to maximizing its adoption and take up.
But exactly what form this new digital world will take on is difficult to imagine, because we have no true concept of how all the pieces will fit, nor even what those pieces will be.
Meta has provided several examples of its broader concept.
But of course, all of these depictions are animated – none of the experiences outlined in this video actually exist yet. Some of them involve using a VR headset – and as Meta reported this week, sales of its Meta VR units are on the rise, so you can see the beginnings of this specific element in action. Others will require AR glasses – like playing chess with a friend who’s not physically there with you.
But each of these platforms will take time to evolve to the point where, as Zuckerberg says, ‘billions of people’ will be connecting in these spaces, and where they’ll also be spending ‘hundreds of billions of dollars’ on digital commerce.
Yet, even so, the hype train has already left the station.
Sensor Tower has reported that 552 mobile apps now include the term ‘metaverse’ in either their titles or descriptions, while a quick search on LinkedIn shows that more than 10,000 people now list ‘metaverse’ in their profile description, including members with job titles like ‘Chief Metaverse Officer’, ‘Head of Metaverse’, ‘Metaverse Consultant’ and more.
It’s not uncommon to see ‘metaverse ready’ as a selling point for an NFT project, while the amount of concerts, meetings and other events that are taking place ‘in the metaverse’ also seems to grow every day. Which is not possible, because, again, the metaverse doesn’t exist – and the key point of note is that nobody, not even Meta itself, knows exactly what form the metaverse itself will take.
But it’s interesting to see how Facebook’s Meta name change has immediately placed it in the center of the discussion. Since adopting the term, Meta has effectively positioned itself to dominate the next shift – because really, it’s now the one platform that’s leading the way, by taking ownership of what the metaverse concept is and will be, which will also enable it to evolve the idea at its own pace.
And while the broader concept, based on Meta’s initial illustrations of the metaverse, seems most likely to involve many hours in VR headsets, that, at least right now, is simply not realistic.
As Wall Street Journal reporter Johanna Stern outlines in her overview of spending 24 hours in VR, spending any significant amount of time in a VR headset is going to make you feel pretty sick.
I can confirm – in my own experience using the Oculus Quest 2, the most advanced AR headset available right now, many applications made me feel queasy, while once you do take off the headset, your distorted reality and perception of space can mess with your head until you re-adjust.
Some of these issues will get resolved over time, and no doubt as you get more used to spending time in these environments, you’ll also come to feel more comfortable with such. But again, right now, we’re not able to experience ‘the metaverse’ as a wholly immersive, alternate reality, because we don’t have the tools available, nor the systems in place to support such.
Which is why trends like NFTs are confusing, at least in relation to their connection to the metaverse space. Will you really be showing off digital artwork in the metaverse? I don’t know, and no one does, because again, we don’t know what form it will take. Will people care about the cartoons of monkeys that you own, or is the true value of NFTs in the transference of these characters into 3D depictions that will eventually become your avatar in the digital realm?
Will people really want to be cartoon cats and pixelated characters when they can choose any character they like, or a customized depiction of themselves?
I don’t know, but based on what we’ve seen in other precursors to the metaverse, like Roblox and Fortnite, people will most likely gravitate towards the coolest trending digital ‘skins’ of the time, as opposed to individualized, owned artworks.
And that, really, is probably where we should be looking. Digital trends take root among younger audiences, and with the metaverse still a decade or more out, it’s the youngsters spending time in these apps that are most likely to become the key focus adopters for the space. The digital habits they’re developing right now will inform the next stage – so rather than metaverse experts and NFT proponents, you’d likely be better off spending time in these apps to get a feel for what will be the key trends of focus in a likely metaverse space.
Connection in these apps has also taken on a new level of importance and value for youngsters over the past two years, due to physical meet-ups being limited, and it’s interesting to note how they use their characters as extensions of themselves, and the ways in which they seek to connect with each other through memes and culture, and the constraints of their animated beings, within these spaces.
This is where the metaverse shift is coming from, and the company that can translate these behaviors into everyday interactions will be the one that wins out.
But it is interesting to see how Meta has taken hold of the term, and the surrounding discussion. The metaverse is already a multi-billion dollar industry, and it doesn’t even exist – yet every investor is now keen to get on board with the next stage of Mark Zuckerberg’s vision, especially those who initially dismissed Facebook, and social media more broadly, and missed that boat.
It does seem that Meta, through a simple name change, is now in control of the narrative for the next stage. And while Facebook usage may be slowing, this new focus will still see it well-positioned for major ongoing growth and development.
Elon Musk’s Team Asks for More Data to Complete Assessment of Twitter Bots
Okay, let’s just check in on the latest with the Twitter/Elon Musk takeover saga, and where things are placed to close out the week.
According to the latest reports, Musk’s team recently asked Twitter for more tweet info, in order to help it make an accurate assessment of bot activity in the app. This comes after Musk questioned Twitter’s claim that bots and fake accounts make up only 5% of its active user base, and said that his Twitter takeover deal could not go ahead unless Twitter could produce more evidence to support this figure.
Which Twitter did, by providing Musk with access to its ‘full firehose’ of tweets over a given period, which it shared with Musk’s team back on June 8th. Musk’s group has now had that data for a couple of weeks, but this week, it said that this info is not enough to go on, and that it needs even more insight from Twitter to make its judgment.
And after initially resisting calls for more data access, Twitter has now reportedly relented and handed over more tweet data access to Musk’s team.
Which may or may not be a concern, depending on how you see it.
In its initial data dump, Twitter reportedly gave Musk’s team info on:
- Total user tweets (within a given time period)
- Data on which devices were used
As noted, Musk’s team says that this has not provided it with the insight that it needs to conduct an accurate analysis of potential bot activity, so Twitter has now provided Musk with more ‘real-time API data’.
It’s not clear whether that means that Twitter has provided everything that its API systems can provide, but that could mean that Musk’s team can now access:
- Real-time info on tweet text and visual elements/attachments
- Data on retweets, replies, and quote Tweets for each
- Data on tweet author, mentioned users, tagged locations, hashtag and cashtag symbols, etc
- Date, time, location, device info
That should satisfy any analytical needs to uncover potential bot trends, and get a better handle on Twitter’s bot problem, though it also means that Musk has all your tweet info – which, again, it’s worth noting, Twitter up till now had been hesitant to provide.
I’m sure it’s fine. Musk’s team is beholden to disclosure laws around such, so it’s not like they can do anything much with that info anyway, in a legal sense. But the idea that the sometimes erratic Elon Musk now has all the tweets could be a little concerning for some.
But Twitter likely had to provide what it can, and if Musk is going to become CEO of the app soon anyway, he’s going to have access to all of that data either way.
Should be fine. No problems – no need to go deleting all your DMs (which are likely not included in the data that Twitter has provided at this stage).
According to reports, Musk’s team says that it now has the info it needs to make its assessment of bot activity, which should see the deal move forward (or not) sometime soon.
Of course, no one knows what exactly is going to happen next, and whether Musk’s team will look to renegotiate, or even back out of the deal entirely as a result of its bot analysis. But it does seem like, one way or another, Musk will be forced to go ahead with the $44 billion transaction, with Twitter’s past bot reporting methodology already accepted by the SEC, giving it legal grounding to argue that it’s acted in good faith, regardless of what Musk’s team finds.
The next steps then, according to Musk, would be securing debt financing and gaining Twitter shareholder approval, clearing the last hurdles for Musk to change the app’s name to ‘Telsla Social’, and add a million references to ‘420’ into the platforms various terms and conditions.
Because of the memes, because weed jokes are still funny to the richest man in the world – because he vacillates between inspired genius and a massive nerd who now gets to play out some fantasy of being cool.
Or something. Who knows what goes on in Elon Musk’s head – which is also why most are hesitant to bet against him, as nobody knows if and how he might be able to fix Twitter, and whether this is a great investment or a massive disaster.
It seems like we may soon find out. Maybe. Who knows. Either way, the memes should be great.
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