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Metaverse Development

Literary Origin

The term Metaverse was invented and first appeared in Neal Stevenson’s science fiction novel Snow Crash published in 1992. It represented a parallel virtual reality universe created from computer graphics, which users from around the world can access and connect through goggles and earphones. The backbone of the Metaverse is a protocol called the Street, which links different virtual neighborhoods and locations an analog concept to the information superhighway. Users materialize in the Metaverse in configurable digital bodies called avatars. Although Stevenson’s Metaverse is digital and synthetic, experiences in it can have a real impact on the physical self. A literary precursor to the Metaverse is William Gibson’s VR cyberspace called Matrix in the 1984 science fiction novel Neuromancer.

A modern literary reincarnation of the Metaverse is the OASIS, illustrated in the 2011 science fiction novel Ready Player One authored by Ernest Cline. OASIS is a massively multiuser online VR game that evolved into the predominant online destination for work, education and entertainment. It is an open game world, a constellation of virtual planets. Users connect to OASIS with headsets, haptic gloves and suits. Regarding education, OASIS is much more than a public library containing all the worlds’ books freely and openly accessible to citizens. It presents a techno-utopic vision of virtual online education. Hundreds of luxurious public-school campuses are arranged in the surface of a planet dedicated exclusively to K-12 education. Online school classes are superior in comparison to the grass-and-mortar schools as they resemble holodecks: Teachers take students for virtual field trips to ancient civilizations, foreign countries, elite museums, other planets and inside the human body. As a result, students pay attention, are engaged and interested.

Metaverse Implementations

In the field of VR, the Metaverse was conceived as the 3D Internet or Web 3.0. Its first iteration was conceived as a web of virtual worlds where avatars would be able to travel seamlessly among them. This vision was realized in Opensim’s Hypergrid. Different social and stand-alone virtual worlds based on the open-source software Opensimulator were—and still are—reachable through the Hypergrid network that allows the movement of digital agents and their inventory across different platforms through hyperlinks. However, Hypergrid was and is still not compatible with other popular proprietary virtual worlds such as Second Life.

Currently, the second MR iteration of the Metaverse is under construction where social, immersive VR platforms will be compatible with massive multiplayer online video games, open game worlds and AR collaborative spaces. According to this vision, users can meet, socialize and interact without restrictions in an embodied form as 3D holograms or avatars in physical or virtual spaces. Currently, this is possible with several limitations within the same platform. Cross-platform and cross-technology meetings and interactions, where some users are in VR and others in AR environments, are the next frontier. Common principles of the Metaverse include software interconnection and user teleportation between worlds. This necessitates the interoperability of avatar personalization and the portability of accessories, props and inventory based on common standards. The seven rules of the Metaverse comprise a high-level manifesto, a proposal for future development based on previously accumulated experience with the development of the Internet and the World- Wide Web. There should be only one Metaverse, and not many Metaverses or Multiverses, as the next iteration of the Internet (rule #7). As such, the Metaverse should be for everyone, (#2) open (#4), hardware-agnostic, networked and collectively controlled.

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