We are witnessing the dawn of the next Internet.
So let us take a step back and recall how the previous Internet was created.
The birth of the old Internet
The Internet was built through a range of formal and informal working groups composed of government research labs, public universities, and independent technologists. These entities typically focused on establishing common standards that would help them share information from one server to another. Their original aim was to communicate knowledge free of censorship and political influence.
Thanks to this mish-mash of participants capturing their various needs and motivations for creating the Internet, today everyone can create content on the internet, everyone is technically capable of accessing everything on the internet, and every web page on the internet can connect to another without the user needing to change browser.
Imagine what the Internet would look like if it had been created by multinational media conglomerates with the intended purpose of just selling us things? Downloading a mere .jpg could cost money, teleconferencing software might have required the use of a broadband operator’s app or portal, and we wouldn’t have the online freedom we know and love today.
The mish-mash of the early Internet prevented this from taking place.
The Internet is dead. Long live the Internet
Now we are witnessing the dawn of the metaverse – the next Internet. Simply put, the metaverse is a digital representation of the physical world. Unlike plain virtual reality, the metaverse will be a perfect digital replica of the real world – its law of cause and consequence, its gravity, and other laws of physics. Unlike the physical world with its hard-to-shake established elites and aristocracies, this new world will be more egalitarian as it gets inhabited.
The old Internet wasn’t created by corporations. But what if the new Internet – the metaverse, gets captured by Big Tech?
Could the metaverse become a succinct way for Big Tech to re-pitch its extensive lineup of products? What if their chunk of the metaverse becomes the de-facto metaverse for their own respective users? Are their users going to be able to move from their walled metaverses and discover the actual metaverse?
Meta Platforms (formerly Facebook) has vowed to become a “metaverse company,” It owns not only four of the top six social media platforms, but also Oculus, which manufactures VR hardware.
The iPhone already captures 66% market share in the United States, 75% of U.S. App Store revenues, and over 80% of time spent on the mobile internet. The iPhone UX is intentionally designed around apps and not websites. By almost any definition, the iPhone web as well as Netflix, to name a few, are examples of a closed system.
This begs the question - why would large tech companies co-create the metaverse rather than inhabit one already of their making?
The Internet, from the bottom-up
The way to the metaverse is decentralization. No doubt we are going to see a faster ‘centralized’ metaverse because centralization makes scaling easier. But the decentralized metaverse won’t fall back by much either. The Web 3.0 already appears like the Web 1.0 of the ’90s—distinct, user-run, decentralized. Yet that didn’t prevent it from scaling and expanding.
Projects like Fortnite are already demonstrating a different way. The project is an ever-changing virtual world that’s molded by feedback from players and the partner brands rather than by solitary geniuses in black turtlenecks. Players have molded the game as far back as the literal game-changing “meteor landing” event in 2018.
That community interaction is the fundamental tenet of the metaverse. If the last generation was about sharing, the next generation of social is going to be about participating. Moving from one experience to another is what will enable true participation. That would hardly be possible unless people are forced to hop via tiny hoops from one walled garden to another.
Yes, for metaverse. No for Big Tech, walled metaverse.
Do you want to see the decentralized metaverse in action? Visit the TrustSwap headquarters in Decentraland by following the instructions here.