Facebook recently hosted an event called the ” FB New Metaverse Reveal .” Although most people reading this article are likely not interested in virtual reality, their attempts at revolutionizing it will have a ripple-effect on our daily lives. Here’s what you need to know about this technology and why it matters.
A metaverse is a term coined by Neal Stephenson in his 1992 novel Snow Crash. In the book, people live their day-to-day lives both in meatspace and in a virtual space called the “metaverse.” This shared metaversal space allows avatars from all around the world to communicate simultaneously regardless of where they live.
Ultimately, even though it sounds like a video game, Snow Crash paints a picture of an interconnected world where anyone with access to the internet is free to live and socialize in this metaversal space. Although Facebook’s version of the metaverse will look nothing like Stephenson predicted (he envisioned something more like The Matrix), his use of the word suggests that he envisioned the concept as related to a virtual space where people from all over the world could come together.
In fact, as Stephenson has said in interviews , he based the idea of a metaverse on something called MUDs (multi-user dungeons), which were popular text-based games with multiple players communicating through their computers. This means that, according to Stephenson, the metaverse was something like an internet chatroom before most people had access to the internet.
As for Facebook’s version of the metaverse, they’re calling it Facebook Spaces . If you haven’t caught on already, Spaces is a VR-based social network designed with virtual reality users in mind.
Spaces allows users to create their own avatar and then connect with friends, family or like-minded people who share interest in virtual reality. Spaces’ version of this metaversal space is more passive than Stephenson’s imagined metaverse – you don’t need to actively participate or move around in order for Spaces to work.
Essentially, Spaces allows you to play Second Life in VR with your friends even though you’re all sitting around doing nothing but manipulating puppets of yourselves on a couch inside Facebook Spaces’ metaversal space. However, the fact that this is an internet-based virtual reality makes it important enough to understand – not just because it’s popular, but because it affects the way we interact with digital space.
The reason Facebook can do this is because Spaces works in conjunction with Facebook Messenger. This means that the program already has your friends’ contact information and their permission to access their videos, photos and text conversations (so they can be used inside of Spaces). So if you want to hang out in Spaces with any of your friends, odds are they’re already there waiting for you.
As an introductory video about Facebook Spaces describes , the program was designed with the intention of connecting people through virtual space that otherwise couldn’t connect due to physical limitations or time constraints. This means that, depending on your perspective, Facebook Spaces either represents a new chapter in the social evolution of technology or another way for faceless corporations to turn us into mindless consumers.
Remember that Facebook’s mission statement includes a line about connecting everyone in the world . If people from all around the world are already using this application, then it makes sense that Facebook would want to expand into the virtual space battle.
Even though this is just one aspect of Facebook’s strategy to get users interacting with internet technology, it’s an important step towards a larger goal: connecting everyone in the world.