Is the Metaverse Web 3.0? Or is Web 3.0 the Metaverse? This query seems to be a burning question among metazens ( new word). As platforms evolve, cross-platform apps are being developed to allow users to interact freely across various Metaverse platforms.
To those that were part of the dot-com era tech scene, 2022 has familiar energy. But now it’s all about the metaverse. And, just as in 1993, when the World Wide Web was launched into the public domain, many are asking themselves, “what is it, anyway?” What’s real, what’s hype, and where are we headed?
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The truth is, much like Internet 1.0 and all of its subsequent iterations, the metaverse is being defined as it’s being built. And contrary to what many believe, it’s more than just VR headsets and avatars. The metaverse is a place, an ecosystem, and above all else, an entirely new dimension. But to better understand this, it’s essential to know how the metaverse is developed.
Decentralized Metaverse Ecosystems
Currently, the metaverse is made up of a hodgepodge of ecosystems. Unlike the World Wide Web, there now aren’t any standardized gateways (like Google Chrome or DuckDuckGo) that help metazens seamlessly navigate from one world to the next. Many speculate that Meta is making moves to own the gateway, but they’ve already lost the battle. That’s because much of the momentum for the metaverse development is happening within the decentralized foundation of the blockchain.
One foundational principle set by many of the metaverse’s founders is that it shall be governed by a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO). According to Cointelegraph, “a DAO is an entity with no central leadership. Decisions get made from the bottom-up, governed by a community organized around specific rules enforced on a blockchain.”
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Think of it as the Internet’s version of democracy. In that regard, DAOs are owned and managed by their members. And, decisions are made through proposals that the group votes on during a specified period. It’s somewhat similar to how U.S. Congress would work if the representative government were replaced by the majority will of the people.
Decentraland is the most notable place within the metaverse that claims to be decentralized. For those unfamiliar, Decentraland is a world on the Ethereum blockchain controlled by individual players who can vote to change the policies that determine how the world behaves. But at the moment, Decentraland is more of a democracy than a decentralized universe. The limitations imposed by its ecosystem keep its users somewhat tethered to the platform.
Decentraland vs. The Sandbox
A big part of the decentralized philosophy is taking custody of in-app items and using them outside of their native platforms. In Decentraland, users’ ownership of their avatar, real estate, and other digital items (NFTs) doesn’t necessarily transfer over to other platforms. The inability to trade items freely and use them in multiple games or media is something Decentraland will need to work on if it truly wants to be the front door of the metaverse.
In many ways, The Sandbox has an advantage over Decentraland regarding the liquidity of virtual assets like real estate. Decentraland only allows users to purchase and trade land and other items from its MANA marketplace. The opportunity to buy virtual land and other assets exists on both platforms. However, The Sandbox gives users more flexibility via its integration with OpenSea.
This brings up an important point. Overall, there is a significant lack of cross-platform interoperability within the metaverse. Seamless interoperability across the whole ecosystem is the only thing that will enable actual user ownership of digital assets. But this can be easily fixed with cross-chain bridges.
According to Web3 Labs, “cross-chain bridges will play an important role in enabling interoperability between heterogeneous networks. A truly global blockchain infrastructure and ecosystem will be connected via bridges which will further strengthen the security of individual networks and support scalability.”
Once cross-chain bridges are standardized and implemented across all platforms, the metaverse will become the vast, interconnected network many dreams can be. And this will make those Nike and Bored Ape Yacht Club NFT holders extremely happy.
User-owned Metaverse Cross Platforms
Decentraland and The Sandbox give metazens an incredible amount of control over the online worlds they inhabit and create, which is a step in the right direction. However, the ability to carry one’s assets and digital selves from one platform to another is the hope of many working to develop a truly integrated and decentralized metaverse. Under this model, the users will be the gateway, not the platform owners. And with a keen understanding of this, metaverse projects like Ready Player Me are taking advantage of blockchain technology to deliver user-owned experiences that are interoperable with one another.
Ready Player Me is a cross-platform avatar for the metaverse that lets users create 3D avatars of themselves. And it works across more than 2,000 compatible apps and games. Any developer can integrate Ready Player Me into their apps and games using the company’s free avatar SDK. Cross-platform-minded innovations like these will help make the metaverse materialize much more quickly.
Privacy & Data Control Concerns
For the metaverse to develop into what it can and should be will take a new mindset. Against a growing mistrust of big tech and a push for more privacy, the metaverse has to be different from the Internet we know today. If it isn’t, users will flee from it out of fear of having every aspect of their lives recorded, controlled, and exploited. And, to keep the metaverse from turning into some dystopian nightmare, a cartel of big players can’t have control over it.
Closed, tightly controlled ecosystems like those created by the likes of Meta, Microsoft, Google, and others will need to be a thing of the past. Walls must be broken down, borders removed, and freedoms granted. And to do that, the technologies driving the metaverse forward will need to work in harmony rather than in competition. The only way consumers will be able to experience the metaverse from a place of safety, greater privacy, and less manipulation.
Decentralized, cross-platform networks give users greater control over their experiences and take power away from those who value profit over user privacy and control.
Experiencing the metaverse through these platforms will open a new world of possibilities and give users more control of what they share and do. It will be a new dimension, one full of options. And to achieve it, we must learn from past lessons.
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