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Metaverse

Jargon Busting the Metaverse: What the Heck Does it All Mean?

Time to step down the digital rabbit hole.

The metaverse might be the buzzword on every tech-savvy person’s lips but even for the most well informed some of the developing lingoes can be difficult to keep up with or understand. This stems from companies creating their own terminology as new technology is born, creating a landscape both confusing and richly rewarding if you know how to navigate it. Breaking down some of the mystique, here are some of the most commonly used terms.

Metaverse

So let’s start with the main culprit, where the hell has the metaverse come from? And why gamers to CEO’s are getting giddy for the term. The name was coined back in the ‘90s by writer Neal Stephenson in his novel Snow Crash, combining “meta” – the ancient Greek for ‘Beyond’ – and “universe”, to describe a virtual world where people interact. More recently the term became better-known thanks to Ernest Cline’s book Ready Player One – which Steven Spielberg turned into a movie.

So essentially a metaverse is any digital realm, one where you can hang out, connect with or make new friends, work if you so wish, watch a movie or play a videogame. There are no limits other than the rules and tools a platform creator wants users to stick to. A lot of worlds marketing themselves as metaverse platforms will allow creators to build their own mini-worlds within worlds, whilst backend systems ensure people feel safe and secure – a huge priority within the community.

All of that might sound straightforward, envisioning these numerous platforms and their digital worlds. However, when bigwigs like Facebook’s – now Meta – Mark Zuckerberg and Epic Games’ Tim Sweeny talk about the metaverse the scope is far larger, a new version of the internet where everyone can have experience not possible on a flat-screen via an app or browser.

XR

That means interacting with these digital worlds in new ways, namely virtual reality, augmented reality (AR) and mixed reality (MR), all bundled under the XR (eXtended Reality) abbreviation. Quite often XR – or one of its contributors – get bundled into the jargon and hype either too often or in entirely the wrong fashion. There are platforms such as Decentraland which are by definition a metaverse, you can build, buy and sell digital items, enjoy events and more. Yet quite often they’ll be mentioned alongside VR when they don’t actually support the technology – it is on Decentraland’s roadmap – it’s just assumed they’re “VR compatible”.

The difference is like day and night, and one of the main reasons why it can be confusing. Putting on a head-mounted display (HMD) – as they used to be called – transports you into a metaverse in a way a flat monitor or phone can’t. You’re surrounded by it, can step into in, grab items in it and in some cases even walk through it. That creates what many in the industry call a feeling of “presence” where you almost forget that you’re actually in your living room.

There are platforms that bridge the two, Rec Room for example started as a VR-only app, broadening its scope by launching on numerous devices including iOS and Android.

Oculus Quest 2 player

Web 3.0

Web 3.0 is one term you’re going to hear a lot about in 2022. What happened to Web1 and Web 2 you may ask? Well, these were previous evolutions of the internet. We’re currently in Web2 which is dominated by tech companies like Google and Facebook. In the Web3 era, tech evangelists envision a future that’s no longer dominated by tech giants, where regular users have more control of their online existence, can earn money through investments, buy digital content such as virtual land and so much more. This is where blockchain, cryptocurrencies, NFTs and so much more come into play.

Blockchain

When delving into blockchain the technology can seem incredibly complex – and it is. But it’s also part of the foundation of Web3. Simply put, you can think of blockchain as a public database that contains the history of every crypto transaction. This is the central nervous system of the entire crypto world and once the transaction has taken place and the data is written, it can’t be undone. Most importantly, blockchains are decentralised. So unlike the banking system which is centralised – owned by select organisations – this decentralised system means that no one particular entity controls it.  

Cryptocurrency

Bitcoin, Ethereum, Dogecoin, Litecoin and a gazillion more, are all virtual currencies that can be used to buy and sell in individual metaverses rather than traditional currencies like the Dollar, Pound or Euro for example. While you may have already heard of Bitcoin – El Salvador recently made it an official currency – Ethereum is favoured by platforms like Somnium Space and is typically used for NFT transactions. You’ll need an online crypto wallet to store your currency with metaverses like Decentraland helping you set one up to get the most out of their platforms.

Nfts

NFTs

One of the very latest buzzwords when it comes to digital investments, Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) are digital assets that can be bought and sold on the blockchain. Think of NFTs as individual, original collectables that contain metadata linking their content to the buyer, all within the blockchain. And like any other collectable you can then sell it on marketplaces like Opensea and hopefully turn a profit.

There is money to be made if you’re smart and fast enough. Artists, in particular, have embraced NFTs, being able to sell digital copies of their works with one of the most widely known NFTs to come to public attention being Everydays: The First 5000 Days. Created by an artist called Beeple, this particular piece sold for $69.3 million USD! And then there are collections like CryptoPunks with individual images selling for a few million apiece.

Digital Twinning

Fairly self-explanatory in comparison to the rest of the list, Digital Twinning is all about creating a digital twin of something real. That could be a building, location or an object for example, obviously having massive potential in the metaverse when it comes to entertainment, education and training.

Teachers could take a class on a virtual field trip that’s physically not possible, colleagues could sit in a virtual recreation of their actual office or you could step inside the latest hypercar, the possibilities are endless.

DeFi

This stands for Decentralised Finance where you don’t need to rely upon traditional financial systems like banks or brokerages. Another intrinsically linked to blockchain and crypto.

To stay up to date on this ever-growing glossary of terms keep reading gmw3 on TwitterFacebook & Instagram.

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