I’ve tried really hard not to write about the ‘metaverse’ (inverted commas deliberate), but the more I hear about it the more despondent and dispirited I get. So, if you’ll indulge me, I’d just like to get this out of my system, then we need never talk about it again.
The ‘metaverse’ is the biggest marketing ploy this decade, a ruse to accelerate the uptake of technologies that nobody really wants. What’s more, nobody can really define what the ‘metaverse’ is – for marketing people it is whatever you want it to be, whilst for the rest of us it is a mix of Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, Video Conferencing, social media and gaming.
We really don’t need a new, ambiguous and confusing name for things that already exist and are pretty well defined. (This is not just me: here’s the view from Vice at the recent SXSW, and a great article from shots.net on how this will impact mental wellbeing, and also worth reading is James Whatley’s opinions in his excellent newsletter, who is probably angrier than me about this whole thing. And when Gartner start saying that the metaverse “will provide persistent, decentralized, collaborative and interoperable opportunities and business models that will enable organizations to extend digital business”, you know you are in trouble).
Facebook (now renamed, ugh, ‘Meta’) claim that ‘soon, everyone will be working in the metaverse’. No, we won’t. A few people might try and communicate through VR headsets but 99.999% of us (my estimate) will still go about our business talking to each other face-to-face or on camera. Even more so after the pandemic, we will want to interact with each other in a more, not less, personal way. Most people have been able to cope with remote working by buying a £19.99 webcam from Amazon, but who is going to spend tens of thousands of pounds installing equipment everyone will feel foolish (and slightly nauseous) wearing?
I don’t want to be an avatar. I want to be me.