Facebook wants to own the “metaverse”. Do you want to scare? Read the book that coined the phrase

Facebook has made even more announcements related to its intention to become a metaverse company. Whenever Facebook drops the word ‘metaverse’, right after cringe, I think of Snow Crash, Neal Stephenson’s 1992 sci-fi epic (and one of my all-time favorite books. ), writes Big Spaceship’s Michael Lebowitz.

Stephenson coined the term metaverse to describe a fully rendered virtual world into which people could “plug in” with varying degrees of loyalty depending on their money, computing power, and / or coding abilities. But that’s not always how people use the term now, which is problematic.

What is more concerning is that the term is being pushed by Facebook – a company that might as well compete for the best real-life example of the evil sci-fi mega-corporation trope (see Tyrell Corp, Cyberdyne Systems, Soylent Company or Ready Player One’s Innovative Online Industries).

I’m no more hostile to the potential of virtual worlds than I was to the web or mobile in their infancy; we live a digitally augmented life every day. Whether via Google Maps or Roblox, we already have a digital layer of our daily life. So why is the term pointing now? I’m guessing we’re in the plot (or maybe the backstory) of our own sci-fi episode.

If the power that Mark Zuckerberg has consolidated to this day had been accumulated in a more familiar context, it would have been considered extremely disturbing. But because it was “just the Internet,” we let the power grow. If we allow this to happen again in our nascent virtual worlds, Facebook will control not only the content we read and the photos we see (already deeply disturbing), but also the rules of commerce, even physics itself.

His massive bet on dominating the future of our interactions with each other is more than a little reminiscent of IOI CEO Nolan Sorrento in Ready Player One – determined to “control the future.”

We have seen this story unfold time and time again, both in our fiction and in our present life. For a long time, the Internet was seen by many as a huge opportunity for the betterment of the world – to democratize access to information and disintermediate old power structures. Its openness has allowed the formation of communities that can reduce isolation and provide access like never before: open source software and companies such as Wikipedia, Kiva and Khan University have flourished. All of this positive innovation has been fueled by the openness of the Internet, not by an imposed order.

Brands already have countless ways to reach people and gain their consideration and, ideally, their loyalty – so much, in fact, that it’s hard to follow them all. Your customers are asking “Why is this brand not in my helmet yet?” »Does your client actually have a helmet? The answer to both questions is probably a categorical no.

Advertising budgets were already funding a massive super-government organization that has proven time and time again to act against the best interests of society. We have a responsibility to prevent the same thing from happening again. So, I beg you, don’t adopt science fiction terminology without learning from it. It’s time to read the book.

Michael Lebowitz is the founder and CEO of Big Spaceship.

To learn more, sign up for The Drum’s daily U.S. newsletter here.

About Cecil Cobb

Check Also

REVIEW: Grappling with the Horror of Stranger Things 4

Nearly three years after the debut of the previous season, the fourth season of Netflix’s …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.