What is the Metaverse?
The metaverse is a big topic of conversation lately, especially with Mark Zuckerberg venturing into Facebook’s new social media conglomerate, Meta. To understand the metaverse, we must first look at what the term “metaverse” even means.
If you think this word sounds like it’s straight out of a science-fiction novel, that’s because it is. Neal Stephenson coined the term “metaverse” in his 1992 novel Snow Crash. It refers to a combination of virtual and augmented reality where users of the application live within a digital universe.
Proponents of the metaverse like to envision a world where we are all connected through virtual/augmented reality. This way, users can use digital avatars to connect through work, travel, and entertainment over VR headsets, thus replacing the internet as we know it. We won’t be viewing internet content; we’ll be inside the internet content.
The use of avatars to connect and play with others isn’t a new concept. Computer games such as Fortnite, World of Warcraft, and Minecraft all allow digital players to congregate in virtual environments. Fortnite has even held virtual concerts and events where players can gather to watch content. These games serve as a blueprint for what Meta and other countries wish to do. In addition to RPG-games, virtual reality can be used to connect people for everyday purposes and more.
Pros of the Metaverse
The Metaverse promises user-contributed content that will allow users to create a completely customizable user experience. With this idea, users can look how they want, live where they want, and create the life they want. Creatives can also create spaces that could potentially turn art into a completely new immersive experience, the likes of which we’ve never seen before.
This could be particularly beneficial to users with disabilities. Personalized virtual worlds could be made to allow those with disabilities to interact in ways they might have not been able to in our current world. Using the metaverse to form a completely accessible world could be a key to creating a more equitable society.
In addition to users creating their own worlds in the metaverse, users could also use the metaverse to travel and explore the world without much expense. One could work in Paris, eat dinner in Seoul, and spend the weekend in Puerto Rico – all without leaving one’s home. These fantastical propositions are ways to further close the gap between people across the globe. It could be an excellent way to connect with others, especially in a world that seems to be more and more isolated.
In a world deeply changed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Metaverse seems like it could be a way to reconnect with friends, families, and coworkers without risk. Reunions could be held in virtual spaces with our avatars, thus boosting international morale and keeping people at home. Digital connection seems like a positive way to reinvigorate the world after the effects of the pandemic, but are there risks to this immersive digital world?
Cons of the Metaverse
The idea of an immersive digital reality brings questions of privacy to mind. Are tech giants like Facebook and Microsoft attempting to get ownership of personal data to further track and monitor users? How will current misinformation campaigns that exist on Facebook and other social media platforms influence users in an immersive augmented reality?
Another question the implementation of the metaverse poses is how the distortion of reality will impact mental health at large. To spend most of one’s time submerged in an augmented reality could potentially lead to an increase in social anxiety, depression, and other mental and physical health disorders. This could be especially harmful in impressionable children, teens, and young adults. The negative effects of social media on younger generations have already been a topic of conversation since its conception. Critics of the metaverse propose that the augmented/virtual reality will only exacerbate these issues.
These complex questions are ones that we simply will not have the answer to until the Metaverse is closer to being implemented.
Marketing in the Metaverse
At Concepts by Design, we’re all about artificial intelligence, data, and marketing. The idea of the internet transforming into a virtual and augmented reality poses potential challenges to those in the marketing world. How will algorithms and tactics like SEO come into play in a visual world?
In the Metaverse, marketing won’t necessarily need to be based on the keyword algorithms. Marketing will be limitless; users could directly interact with content creators or products instead of being shown them on a screen. The world could literally be at our fingertips.
Because of this, one could hypothesize that artificial intelligence will become the forefront of marketing future technology. AI could be used as creative partners in the metaverse, creating hyper-personalized worlds that target users individually. Companies could use AI to sell specific, individualized products to users with complete ease.
The Future of the Metaverse
There are benefits to the metaverse, particularly when thinking of connecting the globe and removing limitations to our current society. However, it is crucial to note the possible detriments of the metaverse, including a further infringement of privacy and impacts on the physical and mental health of users.
Will the metaverse be the future of our digital world? Only time will tell! In the meantime, there are possibilities of the metaverse are limitless to imagine.