The Metaverse


“As Hiro approaches the Street, he sees two young couples, probably using their parents’ computers for a double date in the Metaverse, climbing down out of Port Zero, which is the local port of entry and monorail stop.

He is not seeing real people, of course. This is all a part of the moving illustration drawn by his computer according to the specifications coming down the fiber-optic cable. The people are pieces of software called avatars.”

                   by Neal StephensonSnow Crash

The Metaverse is an interconnected web of virtual environments. The term was first used by Neal Stephenson in Snowcrash, a science fiction novel about virtual reality that succeeds the internet.  As technology evolves, the internet of today will become a more immersive experience akin to reality. Virtual worlds and environments are becoming more common place in society primarily due to developments in online gaming.

A Metaverse consisting of thousands of virtual worlds is the natural evolution of the internet of today. In the 3D internet of the future, the web users of today will collaborate in shared virtual spaces, creating a virtual reality described in science fiction. Our avatars as graphical representatives of our online presence will interact in ways that will become increasingly closer to reality.

The rise of Massively Multiplayer games has bought this future closer to reality than ever before.  Online environments like Entropia Universe, Second Life, and OpenSimulator show some of the potential, but there needs to be an open platform, and virtual world standards that become universally adopted, much as the World Wide Web of today for the Metaverse to truly become a reality.

Virtual reality hardware is enabling us to interact with 3D environments and for those environments to react to our gestures and expressions.  This allows us to communicate with other avatars in ways that we would in person, with facial expressions and spatial audio. Online music concerts can be performed where people can safely interact with musicians or even jam alongside showing the potential for more collaborative expressions of art than is practical with the geographic restrictions of reality.



Related Entries