Mike Sellers of Terra Nova has a compelling article about the analogy between what Neil Stephenson decribed as the ‘Metaverse’ in his novel Snow Crash and virtual worlds ‘as we know them today’. It is interesting to see how many people still believe that the Metaverse as envisioned by Stephenson will actually happen in the future, where we will all walk around in a complete immersive space with our brains connected to our avatars and the web has become a complete 3D space.
I dont believe this will happen, and I dont think we are heading for an immersive 3D web. Instead, I do feel that the vision as described in the Metaverse Roadmap is much closer to reality (and not the virtual reality, the real one), where the metaversie is described as the convergence of virtually-enhanced physical reality and physically persistent virtual space. It is a fusion of both, while allowing users to experience it as either.
In other words, it will be a collection of virtual worlds, the web, 3D web tools and objects that will be embedded everywhere in our environment. Distributed worlds and spaces, both 3D and 2D, intellegently meshed up and (inter)connected. Certain activities we now typically associate with the 2D web will become more 3D and immersive, others wont. To quote the Metaverse Roadmap: In sum, for the best view of the changes ahead, we suggest thinking of the Metaverse not as virtual space but as the junction or nexus of our physical and virtual worlds.
Lets make sure that, now the Second Life hype is hopefully over its highest point, traditional media are not fed with a concept of ‘the 3D web’. Lets not give them new ammunition to create a new hype.
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