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Neal Stephenson Doesn’t Give a Damn About Meta’s Snow Crash

FastCompany | Jesus Diaz | Oct 25, 2022

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Like much of the world, Neal Stephenson doesn’t give a damn about Meta’s Metaverse.

  • Stephenson coined the term Metaverse in his seminal sci-fi book Snow Crash.
    • Stephenson is tired of people asking him about Zuck’s Snow Crash-turned-train crash, and I can’t blame him. Zuck’s Metaverse may be dead
    • No matter how many Quests—Meta’s VR headset—get sold to die-hard enthusiasts, as long as you need goggles, putting a piece of plastic on your face will always feel like an unnatural barrier; a barrier that will stop billions from embracing it in the same way they embraced the smartphone, computers, or game consoles.
  • The Metaverse already arrived years ago
    • 2D interfaces remain the most accessible and natural way to access the Metaverse.  "What happened is that Doom came along and gave birth to the video game industry as we know it"
    • In other words, the Metaverse in its primogenial form is already here. From World of Warcraft to Red Dead Redemption to Fortnite, these Metaverses are getting more sophisticated, increasing their level of fidelity while building up entire economies. The only problem is that they are still disconnected from each other. There’s currently no way for us to maintain our digital selves—and the assets we own—across these platforms. But the Metaverse does exist.  Instead of living inside those worlds, we live them through a looking glass that we can’t cross quite yet.

See:  Google’s Fusing Street View with AI to Create Metaverse like ‘Immersive View’

  • Lamina1: That is why Stephenson started a company with Peter Vessenes, who describes himself as a digital currency, tokenization, and blockchain technology expert. Its name is Lamina1, and it aims to allow anyone to build worlds and bridge them to others.
    • Blockchain technology will be at the center of all that, which they think is the only possible way to create digital economies, connect worlds, and interoperate with each other, so you can bring your battle armor or your supercar from one world to the next.
    • Stories are what matters: While these worlds are not physically immersive, as VR promised, we can feel them through the characters that we see on these flat screens. Their stories are our stories. And if those stories are very good, they draw us into their Metaverses.
    • Standards: It’s hard to see these worlds’ economies coming together as one wide open standard, even while the many companies—including Adobe, Nvidia, Sony, Microsoft, Epic, or Unity, but curiously not Apple or Roblox—are all part of the Metaverse Standards Forum, the W3C group that is supposedly working toward the creation of true interconnected Metaverse.

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