Guys, something BIG is coming. It’s one of those things that will be a HUGE marketing buzzword late this year, or early 2022. The Metaverse and Web 3.0 have all the crypto-punks and tech-geeks oozing with desire for a truly democratic internet.
The Un-Democratic Web
Recent developments in the internet, and centralization have lead to fears of a massively dystopian
future present. The internet started off completely decentralized, mostly peer-to-peer. As it evolved, there were technological challenges (IPv4 limits) and monetary/proprietary technology incentives (google/facebook/etc) that lead to complete centralization.
Think about it for a minute – for any given day, how many different websites do you really spend time on? Statistics state that it’s about 5. Google, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. Just choose your 5 from the top 20 sites and you’ve probably covered 80% of the population and 80% of your personal browsing by time spent.
When that happened, those companies got a LOT of power. They began to start dictating policies on how the web developed, privacy policies, and more. Net Neutrality was shot, and access to the web became tiered, cable companies and telcos began pandering to the sites, rather than the other way around. These big dogs OWNED the customers, and all their data…a job that used to be exclusive to the cable companies and telcos.
The New Kid on the Block(chain)
Centralization and un-democratic behaviour has LONG been a problem in the sphere of Finance. That’s one of the main drivers behind the innovation of Blockchain, more commonly known as Cryptocurrency, or Bitcoin / Ethereum. Crypto came along and cut out all the middlemen who have been holding back fluid exchange of value between people. The friction all these middlemen cause has long been the bane of the middle class.
For example, when you borrow money from the Bank, you’re not just paying them. You’re paying the mortgage broker, real estate agent, lawyer, insurance underwriter, etc. And then the bank doesn’t even keep your loan, they then sell it off in a bundle of other loans to speculators who want to make money off your loan, meaning that they initially priced it higher than the actual efficient value of your loan.
Don’t even get me started…
On sending money to another country, never mind your grandmother. It seems like every time you want to do something with your money, there’s somebody providing questionable value, with their hand in your pocket.
Blockchain does away with a lot of that and creates an efficient market for the exchange of value. Now it has its problems in its current evolution, but those are being solved – look into Proof of Stake vs. Proof of Work for good examples.
More importantly, Blockchain has created a platform upon which innovation can happen, without the big boys regulating all the competition out of the market (for now).
Enter the Metaverse
Stick with me for a bit here, because this is where it gets a little esoteric, and weird. Have you ever read the book or seen the movie Ready Player One? In it the characters get to live in this virtual metaverse, complete with entirely different universes which you can travel to – all with their own laws, physics, and unique items and characters to play and interact with. Each person has a unique character, that can die, and hold / exchange items. Sometimes these items are entirely virtual, other times they are also tied to real items in RL (Real Life).
Sure, you might say. We have that already, have you ever seen the Sims, or World of Warcraft? Ah, but what you might forget, is that those are sandboxes. Nothing goes in or out unless the game creator allows it – and they will charge for it. You want a special item? You gotta pay a tax on that. Want to deposit cash for gold? Well, the exchange rate is set by the sandbox owner. Try taking your SIM character into WoW. Nope.
The Metaverse is entirely different. Built on top of Web 3.0 it will allow the efficient exchange of value, items, and yes, eventually characters between various universes that support a set of protocols based on Blockchain. And no one, not even the game creator, can take your shit away. Read that again. No one. Once you own it, it’s yours. Like a trading card in a game like Magic.
Already this type of thing is happening. NFTs are breaking the ice by creating virtual goods that can represent a digital asset, or even a real one – like a piece of real estate or art. Now, it’s still early adoption, but this is the foundation of something much much bigger that is coming.
Why should I care about the Metaverse and Web 3.0?
I’ll admit, I’m a little excited about the sheer possibilities of the Metaverse when combined with VR. The real news here is Web 3.0, and it has its sights set on the big boys of Web 2.0 – i.e. Facebook and Google.
Think for a minute about your digital representation online. You have search history, ads interaction, emails sent and received, friends lists, instant messages, posts, likes, comments, and more. If one were to compile ALL that information together, they could likely predict many of your thoughts, and generate a very detailed psychographic profile of you. In fact, that is exactly what is done today, and that information is sold to the highest bidder in a war to gain your attention and support for things that aren’t necessarily in your best interest.
For example, if you watch the movie about Cambridge Analytica, which is a super creepy movie, but real, you will begin to understand the depth of this manipulation and its effect on the masses. Basically, they won the election for Trump, as well as Brexit. In the US alone, they split the country into 32 different psychographic profiles, in addition to all the existing demographic and socioeconomic profiles they already had. They used this information to target polarizing ads, that pushed people’s emotions this way and that.
That was just the test run.
The technology strangely disappeared before the authorities could move, and now it’s out in the wild. We’ve since then seen a huge rise in nationalism, and right-wing authoritarian governments being ‘elected’.
Fake News was the next thing. It happened, whether by design or chance, and the powers that be (i.e. Facebook and Google) took it upon themselves to combat it. In their efforts though, they created the most perfect, mass censorship platform the world has ever seen. Even far beyond the whims of 1984. Now governments all over the world have used fear, and current events to push their own agendas, and there is no room for debate on what is censored. In fact, many don’t even know there’s a debate because the machine is SO good.
How can Web 3.0 help?
Web 3.0 turns all that on its head. Remember how in the Metaverse you can own a virtual asset, exchange it with others, and no middlemen get in the way? Well, think of all your online data as a virtual asset. Search history, friends lists, messages, comments, likes, etc. Not only can you own these things yourself, and control who has access to them, but you could also sell if you wanted to be part of a study or market research. No longer are you a product where you get no monetary benefit – unless you choose.
Due to the private nature of Web 3.0, no longer is mass surveillance or manipulation possible. Our private thoughts again become our own – we steer ourselves away from the inevitable future of “thought crime”. Literally, all the wonderful features of Blockchain come to save us from the dystopian future we currently find ourselves in. It can’t come fast enough.
Things like censorship, takedowns, middlemen, data harvesting, taking away your profile because they didn’t like what you posted, or anything else that would require a centralized control…is gone.
Yes, this is a double-edged sword. There are bad agents out there who will clearly take advantage of this. We as a society have to weigh the benefits against that, and consider the fact that we’re ALREADY being taken advantage of…Even if we don’t feel the pain of that personally.
The big boys are already doubling down on it, they must sense that it’s either get on board or become obsolete. Mark Zuckerberg just explained the Metaverse to his shareholders. Given that Facebook would have to cede control of all the data that makes them money today, that’s a huge event. It points to the fact that this is an unavoidable train that the smart money will get on board with early.
So stay tuned, this virtual reality is about to get REAL.