Welcome to the Metaverse – Opinion

When news emerged that Facebook would be changing its brand, many Big Tech critics stated “They’re doing as Philip Morris tried when they tried rehab their image to rebrand to Altria.” In reality, Facebook—which announced yesterday that it would be renaming the parent company Meta, while keeping the name Facebook specifically for the platform—is pulling a move more similar to the Google/Alphabet split circa 2015, but using the moment to signal plans to get serious about its virtual and augmented reality divisions.

In a video that was released yesterday, Mark Zuckerberg said “Now we’ve got a new northstar: To help bring the metaverse into life.” You can imagine that you simply put on your headset or glasses, and are instantly transported to your personal space. You can recreate parts of your home virtually. You can do things only virtually. It is a beautiful place to see the most stunning things.

Zuckerberg envisions the future as 3D street art, augmented reality glasses, and poker games that use avatars and meatspace. A forest room is envisioned, which Zuckerberg believes will be both relaxing and psychedelic. The metaverse is defined by the presence of existence.

You’ll feel as if you are there with others, through body language, facial expressions, and subtleties that technology today can’t deliver. He sees nonstatic images—avatars, “photorealistic for work, a stylized one for hanging out, and maybe a fantasy one for gaming”—becoming commonplace in our new hybrid world, a world that won’t be device-reliant the way we are now. He says that many things, such as screens and other physical objects today will be possible to become holograms in future. However, some technologies remain years away.

Horizon is the software that underpins Zuckerberg’s metaverse take. It is part Minecraft meets RobloxWith an application for work cooperation as well.” The VergeThe following is the list. Project Cambria will be introduced by the company next year. It is a mixed reality headset that combines virtual graphics and real life in full color. The headset will be equipped with eye- and face tracking, which allows for realistic avatars.

This seems very sophisticated and luxurious for a company that is most well-known for its product, which is populated mostly by baby boomers. They alternate between posting apathetic political posts and sharing photoshopped memes on a newsfeed oversaturated in weak friends. Facebook’s future is not so bright, though it may be a better place than its past. Maybe Zuckerberg is aware that Facebook has a dying star. This will be remembered by the futile effort to revive something far removed, in a way too complex for technology today to handle.

Meta’s announcement received a fair amount of skepticism. “Mark Zuckerberg wants to be the hero of the metaverse because he knows Facebook is boring,” reads the subheading of an article by tech reporter Brian Merchant in AtlanticThis is:

The founder’s vanity and PR stuntery are likely to propel the metaverse. Behind the opportunism is Zuckerberg’s desire to take a billionaire-size step into the unknown, à la Jeff Bezos or Elon Musk, something that can truly make a dent in the future, rather than running an ad-stuffed social-media feed that is no longer anyone’s idea of a bold new tomorrow. Zuckerberg has talked about how he was inspired by the science fiction of the metaverse when he was younger, and he clearly loves the novel The Ready Player One; new recruits to his Oculus division were handed copies of the book upon hiring. Zuck sees himself as a hero of the metaverse, which feeds Musk’s dreams.

Ben Thompson writes, “Today’s Facebook Connect Keynote is entirely about a futurity that doesn’t yet exists; believing it will happen depends on how much you believe Zuckerberg the founder can accomplish greater than any mere manager.” StratecheryYou can read more. “I’m skeptical that Facebook—a lumbering bureaucracy whose biggest breakthroughs in the past decade have mostly come by buying competing apps or copying their features, rather than developing its own ideas internally—will create an immersive digital universe that people actually want to spend time in,” comments Kevin Roose at The New York Times. Merchant writes that Silicon Valley is “in desperate need of a new big idea” because “there’s only so much physical world for software.”

Maybe Facebook’s present disappointingness can be replaced by something new and more innovative. In a few years, we might be playing poker in the psychedelic jungle with our avatars dressed up to the nines. Perhaps Zuck wants new frontiers like Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos, but isn’t sure how to get there.