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What is the Metaverse? Defining the Metaverse as it Evolves

Even though the term is inextricably linked with web3, the popular virtual worlds often referenced today are closer to web2 in operation and business models than they are to a decentralized platform. Roblox, Fortnite, World of Warcraft, Meta (formerly Facebook) Horizon Worlds, Second Life, Decentraland, are all in their own way example of an evolving metaverse.

The original term was coined by Neal Stephenson in his 1992 science fiction novel, “Snow Crash.” In it, he envisioned a place where humans, as programmable avatars, interact with each other and software agents, in a 3D virtual space that uses the metaphor of the real world.

Since then, the idea of the metaverse has become synonymous with virtual worlds, virtual reality (VR), and immersive games.

To simplify its working premise, a metaverse can be thought of as an immersive social network that exists in a virtual world where users can participate through a virtual or augmented presence. It is described as the successor to a web1 and web2 desktop and mobile internet.

In a conversation with McKinsey for its new report, “Value Creation in the Metaverse” I shared thoughts on how the metaverse will be an iterative experience, a front-end to a web3 back-end.

The metaverse is a virtual immersion into the next generation web. The metaverse will be iterative, not any one size or shape. And the capabilities we have within it will be unlocked by both open standards and the devices that we wear/use to interact in these worlds.


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