Deep Thoughts, Second Life

Hope in the Metaverse

So here’s the theory: the Internet was the beginning. Made things faster. Information more ubiquitous. Communication speedier. Ability to connect across boundaries. Commerce conducted with less friction. We can shop from home! FedEx the new post office.

Did it change the basics of how we work, think, perceive, or feel? Sure, it transformed but was it transformative? Social change, upheaval, new political systems? Debatable – in some ways yes, in basic building block ways no.

3D Games: changed the way we play. Warcraft, Everquest, Sims Online. Play as goal oriented. Isolated, perhaps, but immersive. Then Facebook, mySpace…social Web.

Take it all, smash it together and create a new beast…the Metaverse. Immersion, parallel or alternate worlds, new emotional language, force for good and of course a force for corporate greed, misuse of information, questions of identity and privacy. A place to explore who we are and what we want to be.

Where will the Metaverse take us? When the boundaries start collapsing between what’s ‘real’ and what’s ‘virtual’, when “real” products and places have an information shadow, are tagged on Google Earth and recorded on Flickr, and when our avatars live in parallel worlds where they have more social status, property, meaning, friends, and the ability to experience a wider range of emotions, activities, and interactions than we do in ‘meat space’ – hmm, what then.

I’d like to examine the Metaverse as an agent of profound change (coupled with my scizophrenic talent for being my own devil’s advocate I’d also examine it as an agent of profound spectacle alone) – but prefer the idea of change for the better, the idea that the Metaverse may offer a significant platform for the kinds of deep change we associate with revolutions or (at least) the societal shifts that arrive with revolutionary technology…why? Because creativity is the well-spring of hope, and the Metaverse might be an entirely new creative language.

So: exploration – what is the Metaverse and where does it take us? Search for creativity and its meaning. And the personal adventures in a new reality. Not too much to cover off in one blog.

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