Mark Zuckerberg wants to know: the future is in the Metaverse, that’s why Facebook is now called Meta. But where exactly is this new world? How to enter? Metaverse expert Thomas Riedel knows this and explains it in the ntv podcast “So techt Deutschland”.
Many companies are already hopping into the Metaverse. Celebrities also use the hype argument to draw attention to themselves. Footballer Kevin Prince Boateng got married in real life in Italy a few days ago, at the same time as the wedding took place on the virtual moon. Spectators could be there for 50 euros. The Metaverse makes it possible.
When Mark Zuckerberg announced the Metaverse as Facebook’s next big target in October 2021 and fittingly renamed his company Meta, Thomas Riedel jumped at the chance and “just got in.” He had no idea, he says on the ntv podcast “So techt Deutschland”. He simply did this as a reporter and got the information he needed to be able to take listeners “on this journey” with his he podcast Metaverse.
Science fiction novels as a basis
The argument is not new. As early as 2006, 55 researchers developed a 75-page “Metaverse Roadmap” in a conference. The growth of the Metaverse will follow the spread of the Internet as it reaches a critical threshold, only faster, according to the researchers’ thesis. More than 16 years later, we are hardly any smarter. For some people the Metaverse is a big hype, for others just “Big Marketing” and most have never heard of it.
The Metaverse image is primarily shaped by science fiction. books like Snow crash or Neuromancer are the best examples for Riedel. “You swim in the code. The Internet is a kind of river of code. You navigate and cross it”, the expert describes the visions of the authors, also present in films like Der man lawn mowerthe hit series Matrix or Ready player one come and express yourself.
I’m Roman-science fiction Snow crash (1992 Neal Stephenson), the word “metaverse” appears for the first time, as does the word “avatar”. That is why it is easier to approach the “textbook” concept, that is, on the basis of novels. There are no other sources either. Nobody really knows where the Metaverse is, what it is or how it will be. “What the author describes is actually poetry and not the metaverse, but a metaphor,” explains Riedel.
In “So techt Deutschland” ntv moderators Frauke Holzmeier and Andreas Laukat ask founders, investors, politicians and entrepreneurs how things stand with Germany as a technological place. All episodes can be found on the ntv app, Audio Now, Apple Podcasts and Spotify. You’ll also find what you’re looking for on Amazon Music and Google Podcasts.
In the book Snow Crash travels a road around the world. There are many properties in this street that you can “enter” – into the novel wearing a headset, ie VR glasses for virtual reality. With this you can virtually walk from property to property. “The street is a metaphor for the connection between individual buildings. Today they would be called experiences,” explains Riedel. Basically, the Metaverse is something like the Internet, only instead of linking different websites, they are “individual VR experiences”. These can be games, educational content or even concerts that are held virtually.
Engaging and interoperable
Access portals such as Decentral they are not the metaverse for Riedel, but an attempt to enrich himself from the hype. “These are all agencies, corporations and corporations trying to make money in some way,” Riedel says.
As fundamental principles of the metaverse, the expert makes the terms Immersion And interoperability out. Immersion it means that the virtual experience or virtual environment is perceived as real by users. “You feel like you are in a different world, with your own rules,” explains Riedel. This effect is already known from computer games, when users engage in virtual reality and “immerse themselves” in it.
interoperability it refers to the possibility of taking certain things, clothes or names with you into other worlds of experience. “It would be like switching from Facebook to Twitter and looking the same,” says Riedel. Nobody would upload a profile picture anymore, but would draw their own personal avatar and use it to explore the Metaverse: freedom of travel for avatars, so to speak.
In the Fortnite online game, players sometimes spend a lot of money on the appearance of their avatar. A possibility that could easily be transferred to other universes of experience. Or maybe even in reality. It is entirely possible to use the metaverse aspect in real life when using augmented reality glasses. So, if two users met on the street and both were wearing AR glasses, they could see themselves in the likeness of the Metaverse.
There is also consensus on other principles of the Metaverse: its own economy, constant presence and live experiences offered by the various actors. Even if the users are not in the Metaverse, the virtual life continues just like the real one. Rapper Travis Scott brought together more than twelve million people in online gaming at a live concert at Fortnite in 2020. The topic of payment shouldn’t be a problem for Metaverse companies, digital payment systems already exist. The only question is, which one will prevail?
Who builds bridges between worlds?
The question of all questions is: who builds bridges between different worlds and experiences? How does a Fortnite player enter a virtual mall to buy clothing? He wants to take his avatar with him, his money, his acquired or gambled possessions, he doesn’t want to leave the metaverse on the road for other experiences. If Mark Zuckerberg makes his way, Meta would be the mediator. However, game providers or the fashion industry have yet to show any ambition to link their experiences with others.
There are still a lot of question marks right now. Mark Zuckerberg makes a huge bet on the future. He invests a lot of money and resources in the Metaverse theme. Some media reports, citing former employees, that he is obsessed with the subject. He is said to push some people up the wall with it. And above all from an entrepreneurial point of view, it is still not clear: does the metaverse make economic sense?
The metaverse is still at the beginning of its existence. The underlying technology is there, but it is insufficient and not easy to use. Many people also end up paying attention to how they look in real life with VR glasses. Appearance and function should also play an important role in augmented reality glasses if they are to be worn in the real world. Few want to sit alone on the sofa and stare at heavy, awkward glasses.
There’s more about the Metaverse in the current podcast episode of “So techt Germany”. In it, Metaverse expert Thomas Riedel also talks about paying in the Metaverse and why cryptocurrencies are not a good choice for him.