Sometimes considered a synonym for "the internet", but much more than that. A conception of Neal Stephenson. A collective unconscious to which one connects through a computer. It has its own streets, buildings, and rules. Many parts of the Metaverse are synonymous with everyday internet terminology.

The popular over-use of the prefix meta- has caused more etymological pain in the ass than almost anything else. For one thing, it came out a few decades ago as a pop science term, which means that by now most people think they know what it means, rendering meta- words almost completely useless for purposes of actual communication.

"Meta-" expresses a sort of redundancy--or perhaps I should say "recursiveness"--that really applies to thought only. You can't actively DO a meta-thing; at least not now, not by normal routes; if you're a Zen Master I can't speak for you. So if I'm studying how things move, I'm studying physics; but if you're studying how physics moves, you're studying metaphysics. Meta-thought, which is effectively thinking about how thinking works, is commonly called Philosophy. Well...Psychology and neurobiology sometimes vie for pieces of that pie, but they (rightly) rarely get it. According to the original rules for things like meta-thinking and meta-physics, Philosophy is the only science that can operate ONLY on a meta level.

So you see what a mess some goofball tossing out the word "Metaverse" has caused. I wish people would think before they invent these words; or at least try a little harder to explain them when they do. So now we have a Uni-Verse, directly translated as the "One Turn", something we've never seen and have no solid information on, but that we nonetheless termed "that biggest thing"; whatever the whole trip around turns out to be for. ONE Turn.

And then--splat--we get metaverse thrown at us. The turning--the ONE turn--of the Universe isn't good enough for us; now we have to have a Turn that Turns The Turn. What the fuck would that be, you may ask? Well, since I think Philosophy is probably ALL that's qualified to field that question, I'll use it and try. It would be the thing that Moved the Prime Mover, whatever that was. The thing that gave birth to God. The Impetus Before The Thought Before The Action That Started It All.

There. That sucked to have to think about, didn't it? That's what we get. That's what happens when people think they're being clever or expanding our horizons--they invent words so abstract that the mere saying of them pushes our brains right out into the cold, where there's nothing whatsoever to stand on.

Then again, those of you with the gumption to ignore Philosophy probably don't have my blistering dislike of such orphan terminology, do you? Oh well...

I have been reading about this because of fear of missing out. While fear is too strong a word, reading and watching early thoughts about the internet and web, and comparing those predictions to what it is today, it is clear that a lot of people believe something big will happen with the metaverse. And they are putting money in it in the hopes of cashing in when it takes off. However, even though the internet wrought much change and progress and wealth, nobody in the early days could correctly guess how or in what direction benefits would come. Even those who correctly guessed its potential only guessed a little bit of it. There appears to be a similar buzz around the metaverse now. However, all my reading and research kept saying versions of the same thing: "an exciting digital world where we can live, work and play".

That did not make much sense.

So, yesterday I signed up with Decentraland. I logged in, created an avatar and took a look around. It was quite underwhelming. It just looked like a regular game. After logging out, I kept thinking about why would there be so much excitement about what just looks like a regular computer game. Then I remembered that all the articles I'd read talked about virtual reality headsets and body suits. And then I remembered the movie Ready Player One. And suddenly, I understood.

Right now, if I want to buy a shoe, I can log on to the vendor's website and see it from all angles. If doing that does not convince me, I would have to go to the vendor's store and try it on. If I wanted to see how it would fit with other clothes, I would either have to keep coming back to the store or visit it carrying many different outfits. However, in the metaverse, I can walk into the store and try on the virtual shoe to get a better experience, I would be able to see how it would work with as many outfits as I want. This can be extended to everything - buying cars, doing experiments, going on vacations. One can get the experience at a lower cost. My failure to understand is because I had initially been thinking of it purely as an enhanced entertainment platform. But not anymore. I also understand the reason for buying real estate there. To stay with the shoe example, a shoe vendor would need a fixed location for their business, so people would always be able to go there. Although, it is possible that all avatars would have immediate access to all knowledge about their world, so even if the shoe shop moves around, it's coordinates would always be accessible in real time or at least with little lag. I wonder if there would be skeezy sections of town where an avatar could be mugged. Or even killed. And if there would eventually be a government and police and all that. Would virtual restaurants, selling only the appearance ands sensation of food be successful? Would they perhaps help with reducing obesity? It is quite interesting to think about the possibilities.

In relation to land in the metaverse, people have been buying plots in supposedly trendy areas for insane sums. I think that is rather stupid. If land is expensive there, it ought not to be due to traditional scarcity, since more can easily be made. Nor should it be due to geographic advantages since movement within the metaverse should be instantaneous. A small digression here. In Larry Niven's Ringworld, there is a technology in the Puppeteer world where if a person steps on glowing squares on sidewalks, the person can be transported huge distances immediately. That is how I imagine the most basic transport mode would be in the metaverse. I think given how people paid for all sorts of crap the in the early days of the internet, most of these early stage investments would turn out to be a waste of money.

Sometimes, when I have an aha! moment, I begin to wonder if perhaps I am stupid and everyone knew before me. I feel the same way now because the concept is quite simple. Assuming I'd experienced virtual reality or even watched 3D movies either at home or in a cinema, I think I might have gotten the concept more quickly.

Finally, I am reminded of Sam512's Ra series. I won't give spoilers but I wonder if we are heading that way.

I like the pedantry of PureDoxyk's post. It would have been better to call the current metaverse a virtual world or a virtuaverse.

Now if only I could understand the logic of NFTs.

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