Mark Zuckerberg recently said that Facebook "will go from being a social media company to being a metaverse company." What does it mean, in a nutshell?
The metaverse doesn't have a specific definition, but the venture capitalist does Matthew ball it has circumscribed its borders well. The metaverse is a persistent and synchronous space that embraces both the digital and the physical world. It offers "unprecedented interoperability" and contains a fully functioning economy.
To use Zuckerberg's own words, it is a kind of "embodied internet".
Facebook as a metaverse, Zuckerberg's vision
In Mark Zuckerberg's predictions, the metaverse will allow us to be involved in technology in a more natural way.
We have these phones. They are relatively small. Most of the time we spend, we mediate our lives and our communication through these little glowing rectangles. I think that's not quite how people are made to interact. Technology should emulate a certain shared sense of common space.Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook
It is not Zuckerberg's first comment that goes in this direction. Previously the creator of Facebook had already theorized that humans should "teleport, not transport" through virtual and mixed reality environments. This could happen across a number of devices, and Zuckerberg believes VR, AR (augmented or mixed reality), PCs, mobile devices, and game consoles should all share a single ecosystem.
"I think it will probably look like some sort of hybrid of the social platforms we see today, only we will 'live' in it," says Zuckerberg. One of the advantages of this ecosystem would be that "individual experiences could be much closer to physical ones".
One obstacle: the digital divide
Zuckerberg did not address this problem. And it's a big problem: although technology has been dramatically democratized over the years, there is still a substantial digital divide between people and access to increasingly advanced online services.
Facebook has invested in virtual and augmented reality, particularly through its Oculus Quest headset, and it's an important chance. “Cell phones were born at the same time as Facebook, so we haven't been able to play an important role in shaping their development,” says Zuckerberg. An elegant way to forget the resounding fiasco of the Facebook Phone. On the other hand, smartphones today are about to become a minefield for the Menlo Park home, with Apple blocking advertising tracking on iPhones putting huge profits for Facebook at risk.
So with what will we enter this "metaverse"?
Current virtual reality headsets are "clunky", but Zuckerberg predicts that we will eventually have "normal looking glasses". Building an entire computer capable of “perceiving and mapping the world” in a five-millimeter-thick frame of glasses? A huge challenge, of course: but at the beginning even radios were as big as closets.
Aside from technological developments, one problem to be addressed is the regulation of the metaverse. The oversight of these things is an issue that has haunted (and haunted) Facebook for years.
A Zuckerberg everywhere
“A good vision for the metaverse is not one that builds a specific company, but the sense of interoperability and portability,” says Zuckerberg. Adding that to define how experiences will be built we need protocols such as those for the Internet standards of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).
“The software we create, to allow people to work or go out and build these different worlds, will go over anything. Other companies will also build VR or AR platforms, but our software will be everywhere. Just like Facebook or Instagram is today ”.