Opinion: the Metaverse on the chain

Now that the Metaverse is in the works, we also have to quietly ask ourselves who will take the reins in the future. Of course, there are also risks associated with the endless possibilities.

Is the time. The Metaverse is in the making and is coming soon. At least, if we are to believe all the big tech companies. The term has lately become an integral part of tech news. As in the Klondike, there is a veritable rush of companies eager to claim their share of the promising Metaverse pie. For example, Nike bought the RTFKT organization. It is dedicated to the production of NFT shoes for the Metaverse. With this, the shoemaker probably wants to prepare to offer digital versions of its own sports shoes in the future.

Microsoft is now working on Mesh, a virtual environment that allows users to work with Windows and all Microsoft services (including Teams) in virtual reality. One of the main players currently seems to be Facebook Inc. become. The tech giant has even gone so far as to change the name of its parent company to Meta, in an effort to clarify where it plans to focus in the coming years.

It promises to be an Internet 2.0, and a new way of communicating. Given the technological developments of recent years (with the rise of AR and VR) and the shift of our work environment from our offices to our home offices, Metaverse offers some advantages in theory that can make our lives easier.

Unfortunately, there is also an obvious problem. Our current way of dealing with communication, the Internet and social networks is determined by only a handful of companies, and they are in control. If big tech companies now invest a lot of money in the development of the Metaverse, Internet 2.0 promises to grow with the same diseases that our current system struggles with. And that doesn’t seem like a good idea.

Meta wants to become one of the great founders of the Metaverse, with all the advantages and disadvantages that this entails.
Credit: Fritz Jorgensen.

Virtual reality news?

The Metaverse promises to put up many obstacles before he can reach maturity. For starters, our hardware will need an upgrade. Without a doubt, the Metaverse needs a lot more bandwidth for its data traffic. Therefore, 5G seems to be an absolute necessity. In Belgium it will be some time before there is useful coverage of this super-fast network. Our smartphones must also be compatible with the new network standard and their chipsets must also be able to properly display 3D spaces. VR goggles also make many users nauseous, making sitting in a meeting with the rest of your colleagues for half an hour far from pleasant. So there is still a lot of work to be done, but in the end it is only a matter of time before we find solutions.

Another problem that seems very crucial to us is that of communication. As we mentioned, it is controlled by only a few companies. The best example is Facebook. The social network controls our communication whether we like it or not. Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp make up the majority of our online communication. If Meta is to determine what the Metaverse will look like, it will once again seek full control over how we communicate. At first glance, this doesn’t seem like a disaster, but it can be quite disadvantageous.

The big players will determine what we see and when, and that can be a problem.
Credit: blackdovfx

WhatsApp

For example, look at WhatsApp. In early 2021, the messaging service made it clear that it would change its usage agreements. From now on, all user information would be under the control of Facebook, causing users to suddenly start worrying about their privacy on those platforms. Since WhatsApp is the most used service for communication, both between private users and between companies, in reality many had no other option. Anyone who doesn’t agree to the new user agreement was forced to find an alternative that is at least as popular. The latter was not there, and not everyone was inclined to transfer all their communication to alternatives such as Telegram or Signal. If Meta also decides in the Metaverse how we communicate with each other, then we as end users will be subject to the same risks.

Keep enough alternatives on hand, because it’s not yet clear which way you’re going to go.
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We don’t want to focus all our attention on Meta, but it’s the most obvious example for now. Mark Zuckerberg and company were the first to launch so publicly into the Metaverse. That doesn’t mean other companies like Microsoft aren’t sick in the same bed. The Metaverse promises to revolutionize the way we communicate with each other. And yet, it seems that fundamentally little will change in the structure if the current tech giants are in control there as well. If you ask us, it is very likely that our digital identity is at even greater risk. It may be the (critical) nature of the beast, but we have to remain absolutely vigilant when our personal data and privacy are at stake. The best advice we can give you? That seems to wait for us to jump on the Metaverse bandwagon too much.

At the time, many users created their profiles on social networks without thinking, without thinking about what they have given in return. With several invasions of our privacy behind us and companies becoming more and more eager to collect our personal information, it’s time we start thinking more about the price we pay for all that convenience. Just like the internet, a handful of big boys will rule the Metaverse. More than ever, we will have to be careful what we throw away. If you do enter the Metaverse, always make sure you know what you’re getting into, and always have an alternative handy.

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