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7 Essential Ingredients of an (Open) Metaverse Framework

a16z | Liz Harkavy, Eddy Lazzarin, Arianna Simpson  | May 10, 2022

open metaverse - 7 Essential Ingredients of an (Open) Metaverse Framework

There has been a lot of buzz about “the metaverse” since its coinage in the ‘90s, but especially during the pandemic (given the surge in online activity), and even more so after Facebook changed its name to Meta.

In many ways, the metaverse is just another name for evolving the internet: to be more social, immersive, and far more economically sophisticated than what exists today. There are, broadly speaking, two competing visions for how to bring this about:

  1. One is decentralized, generous with property rights and new frontiers, interoperable, open, and owned by the communities that build and maintain it.
  2. The other vision is centralized, closed, subject to the whims of corporations; and often extracts painful economic rents from its creators, contributors, and inhabitants.

An open metaverse is decentralized, allows users to control identity, enforces property rights, aligns incentives, and ensures value accrues to users (not platforms).

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An open metaverse is also transparent, permissionless, interoperable, and composable (others can freely build within and across metaverses), among other criteria.

Achieving a “true” metaverse — one that’s open versus closed — requires seven essential ingredients intrinsic to this sought-after state. We argue that these are necessary to meet the minimum requirement to be called a metaverse. Our goal is to clear the fog of misinformation about what is and isn’t a true metaverse for builders and would-be participants, and to provide a framework for evaluating early metaverse attempts.

  1. Decentralization
  2. Property Rights
  3. Self-sovereign identity
  4. Composability
  5. Openness/open source
  6. Community ownership
  7. Social immersion

We believe — as is evident in this framework — that a metaverse cannot exist without the fundamental foundations of web3 tech.

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Openness and decentralization are the pillars upon which the whole edifice rests. Property rights rely on decentralization — they must endure despite the influence of powerful adversaries. Community ownership prevents unilateral control of the system. The approach also bolsters open standards, which are helpful for decentralizing and composability, a closely related property downstream of interoperability.

The development of an ideal multi-dimensional virtual world will come about gradually. Many problems remain to be solved.

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