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What You Need to Know About the Metaverse
Posted On August 1, 2022
The metaverse isn’t exactly new—if you played Second Life at any time in the last 20 years, you’ve entered the metaverse—but it’s become a hot topic these days thanks in large part to the one-two punch of Facebook’s parent company now being called Meta (with the goal of “bring[ing] the metaverse to life”) and the pandemic forcing so much of our social lives online. The following is a sampling of the metaverse stories NewsBreaks and Information Today have published in the past year.

Fast Company Shares Tech Trends to Watch in 2022

In January 2022, NewsBreaks posted a Digest noting that Fast Company’s Mark Sullivan (with help from Alex Pasternack) compiled a list of tech trends for 2022 based on input from 40-plus experts. A major one was, “The industry will continue talking about, and in some cases even building for, the metaverse. And some of the foundational technologies underpinning Web3 may begin to take hold.”

CES 2022 Roundup

Also in January, a Digest covered reactions to the Consumer Technology Association’s CES 2022 event. CNET’s Scott Stein focused on how the show handled the metaverse, posting “The AR, VR Future Coming in 2022: What We Learned From CES.” He shared that “one trend that started accelerating in 2021 is already in play: VR and smart glasses are on the rise again, thanks in part to the promises of a metaverse-filled future. … I’ve always seen the idea of the metaverse as an acknowledgement that cross-device and cross-app support need to be figured out to support larger communities across VR, AR and phones and computers. It’ll happen … slowly.”

Survey Results About Usage of the Metaverse

A Digest from February linked to a ZDNet article by Marc Wojno stating that per “a recent survey conducted by metaverse gaming company Advokate Group, over 77% of respondents who are interested in joining a metaverse are worried about Facebook owning the data. … When asked what types of activities consumers would use the metaverse for, the most popular choice was gaming, followed by hanging out with friends, work and meetings, attending concerts, workouts, and studying with classmates.”

What Marketers Need to Know About the Metaverse

In the April issue of Information Today, Linda Pophal used her Let’s Get Strategic column to interview experts in the digital marketing world about the metaverse. She writes, in part:

The metaverse blurs the line between the digital and real worlds. It’s something that many of us have dabbled in via Zoom during the pandemic. Brian Kavanaugh is director of global field and customer marketing at Bynder, which is a digital asset management platform. “Someone said recently that the metaverse is simply ‘the 3D internet,’ which might be an oversimplification, but I liked that characterization,” says Kavanaugh. “Our classic concept of the internet is 2D. The actual store isn’t visible; the customer sees images and text representing products. A living room image is visible on Zoom, but the other person isn’t in it. The metaverse starts to put us ‘there,’ and that will mean any number of things over time.” …

The world of gaming is the most obvious example of how the metaverse works. Gamers interact with each other across continents—virtually—while simultaneously taking part in activities. “Companies like Epic Games, the creator of Fortnite, and Unity, the game engine behind Pokémon Go, have been building the foundation of the metaverse—immersive and interactive games—for decades,” says Tim Parkin, a consultant, advisor, and coach to global marketing executives. “Their unique insights, experience, and capabilities will be a key driver of the innovation and marketing of the metaverse in 2022.”

But there are practical—non-gaming—applications as well. [Anders] Ekman[, president of V12, which is a provider of purchase intent software and marketing services,] points to real estate as one example. “As a mover, imagine being able to experience real estate listings from the comfort of your living room, exploring and interacting with a house plan and neighborhood through virtual reality,” he suggests. “Imagine a potential home buyer viewing their own furniture and new purchases in their future home through the metaverse. There’s even an opportunity for home improvements brands to tap into the metaverse to enable a new, digital-first approach to remodeling projects.” …

“The value of the metaverse is predicated on large-scale participation and adoption,” says Parkin, which is “something that will take educating consumers and addressing their uncertainty in addition to the hardware required to participate.” That, he says, makes 2022 a year for “testing use cases, teasing demos of what ‘could be’ and touting the usefulness of the metaverse”—a lot of activity with little substance, he predicts.

What the Future of the Metaverse May Hold for the Information Field

Larissa Pack did an April NewsBreak on the companies driving the metaverse and how information professionals may be able to get in on the action. She writes, in part:

The metaverse can be described as a system of virtual worlds created using an engaging, dynamic design and the resources that bring that design to life. However, there is currently no universal definition. Ideas for the metaverse range from the bleak, dystopian setting depicted by Neal Stephenson’s book Snow Crash (the first use of the word “metaverse”) to the colorful, utopian vision displayed at [Facebook’s] Connect [conference]. …

A universal global metaverse would require a vast number of resources and a systemic movement to both generate and maintain them. However, parts of what a universal metaverse would require have already been successfully developed within their individual realms. For example, online virtual worlds have existed since the development of Second Life in 2003, but they are now more popularized through multimillion-dollar-revenue video games and platforms such as Fortnite and Roblox. …

Both Microsoft and Google are also driving the metaverse conversation. Microsoft’s executive chairman and CEO Satya Nadella posted a video to Twitter 5 days after the Connect presentation. In it, he discussed a new immersive, virtual experience for Microsoft Teams called Mesh. …

Only time will tell how the metaverse will continue to develop. Current issues within the information field could be amplified as information professionals use the metaverse in the future. VR and AR headsets are a costly investment for both individual consumers and institutions. The security measures necessary to keep user information private would continue to grow. Digital lending practices could become even more important if apps within the metaverse are allowed to access information services. Addressing social inequity, income inequality, and ageism in the newly created communities of the metaverse could become as important as discussions that information professionals are having around these topics in the real world.

Is The Metaverse an Idea Whose Time Has Come?

Kashyap Kompella’s feature article for Information Today’s Insights on Content section in May explores why the metaverse is gaining popularity and some of the ways it might be concerning for society. He writes, in part:

The metaverse is a curious beast. It is already here, but it is also the future. It is tough to define, and everyone has their own definition. Its proponents include Big Tech, but it’s also embraced by opponents of Big Tech. The metaverse contains multitudes—let’s dive in. …

A gamified, online world with digital avatars and virtual goods is not exactly new. One of the most popular virtual worlds, Second Life, launched in 2003 and still exists today. There was tremendous hype and excitement about [it:] musicians held concerts, countries opened embassies, brands opened retail outlets, colleges taught courses, and on and on during the early days of the game. Despite the hype, it did not attain mainstream adoption. …

What’s different now? First, the required technology for the metaverse doesn’t exist fully, but there have been strides and progress. For example, VR headsets are more functional and easier to use, and their prices are coming down. High-speed broadband internet is more widely available, and telecom companies are rolling out 5G mobile networks. High-end mobile devices and computers can easily render 3D worlds on the consumer end. 

Second, unlike before, the metaverse is being championed by large tech companies with deep pockets. For example, Meta (formerly Facebook) plans to spend $10 billion on VR and AR hardware and apps in 2022 alone. …

Third, there are a lot of cultural and societal factors in play. Video games have moved from niche to mainstream; the number of gamers is estimated to be in the billions (including two-thirds of all Americans), and a significant amount of them are women. According to MarketWatch, as an industry, video games rake in more money than the movie and music industries put together. Clearly, they are a big part of culture. Also, the pandemic caused many people to turn to new ways to digitally connect, and video games were a big part of that. …   

But there’s also the risk that we’ll end up with a metaverse that inherits the worst parts of today’s online platforms.

Dubai-Based Kaloscope Social Media Metaverse Gets Introduced

A May Digest showcased a post from The Metaverse Blog, “How Web-3 Decentralised, Social Media Metaverse Kaloscope Is Transforming Business & Using Technology to Shape Sustainability & Future,” which explores Kaloscope, “a Web-3, decentralised, social media metaverse” that “enables one to create [and] collect virtual spaces, as NFTs, and project an NFT collection in Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), and Extended Reality (XR).”

W3C Works Toward Interoperability Standards for the Metaverse

In June, a Digest looked at the launch of the Metaverse Standards Forum, a free-to-join organization for standards bodies and companies that want to cooperate on interoperability standards that will ensure an open and inclusive metaverse. The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is a founding member of the forum.

Digital Science Shares Predictions of Who Will Be Metaverse Leaders

In July, a Digest featured a Digital Science article by David Ellis that analyzes a study on which companies will become “Maestros of the Metaverse.” By examining patent application data from the past 5 years, the study shows how innovators in the space are addressing the metaverse.

Brandi Scardilli is the editor of NewsBreaks and Information Today.

Email Brandi Scardilli

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