Is The Metaverse the New Internet?

I was recently asked if I saw the metaverse as the next iteration of the Internet as we move towards Web 5.0. This got me thinking about the idealistic read-only world wide web that Tim Berners-Lee initially handed us the keys in the 90s, and whether this ‘new’ version was brought to us by Mark Zuckerberg and has been quickly acquired. 10,000 technicians is a worthy successor.

For some who are deep into Roblox or Animal Crossing, the metaverse is already here and serves just fine. But the current iteration, rooted in gaming and escapism, of seeing a snowboard champion or warrior in a virtual world as ambitious, doesn’t exactly capture the imagination. This version of the metaverse just encourages more people to switch off and disconnect from the real world.

If you could determine the future of the Internet, how would you shape it? What would you like to keep and what would you get rid of?

The commercial model of the Internet has a lot to do with where we are now. There was a fleeting moment when various possibilities were open to us in terms of how we would fund our online habits, but “free” was very tempting and before long we were gleefully signing up to data scraping bots crawling through our online lives. , advertising at every turn and there is a lot of money to be made by letting us scroll.

Without a single guiding or navigating voice, which was initially the entire ethos of the Internet, commercial interests intervened to fill the void. With a lot of great things like access and convenience, but also with unavoidable compromises.

For example, it seems that if you spend enough time online, you get caught up in a web of algorithms that could very well turn you into the worst and most extreme version of yourself. Add anonymity to the mix and it’s not hard to see things being pushed over the edge.

Reading the papers last week, I was reminded that being a female politician is arguably the most thankless and potentially dangerous job in the UK right now, with female MPs facing a torrent of brutal abuse and abuse online. death threats because of their gender and race. Moving to a metaverse with the same model and algorithms doesn’t feel like the reset many are hoping for.

Of course, the Internet has also had a very positive impact in the world, leading to advancements from the medical, AR transforming surgery, to the sociological, with the rise of the MeToo movement. But what we don’t have now is a new Tim Berners-Lee to guide us through this next evolution. And we question the future of the Internet in part because we don’t trust the people in control of it.

Zuckerberg won’t be the first or last to attempt to shape the future of the Internet according to his vision and interests. But with social media increasingly being categorized as the new tobacco or oil, it won’t be his job to be defined as his hero.

We’re ready for something much more vibrant, inventive and creative (Greta Thunberg’s metaverse perhaps?). A more progressive and transformative vision for the future and what is possible. It’s exciting to imagine what an alternative metaverse would be and to think about the kind of leader who could energize a global audience to solve our most pressing issues around climate, the incredible loneliness and isolation that so many experiencing or the lack of care so many desperately need. Fewer metavers, more internet after his troubled teenage years. Idealistic but not impossible.

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