The Metaverse: If they build it, will you come?

field of dreams

Facebook's announcement in October 2021 that it was further embracing the metaverse and rebranding itself as Meta started a lot of metaverse talk. News outlets were trying - and not surprisingly failing - to explain just what the metaverse is or rather will be.

Even those involved in building the metaverse say it is still years away, no one knows how many years it will be. Actually, do we know for sure that there will be a metaverse? Will something evolve but be called something else?

The metaverse aims to innovate the way people interact with each other on the Internet. The projections include augmented and virtual reality and lots of things that still seem like science fiction to most people. Do most people even want to live or work in a metaverse?

As with the Internet, the business world does not want to be left behind and is at least planning and exploring how it might use this metaverse for commerce. Despite some lofty speeches by Mark Zuckerberg and others about the metaverse's potential, there are clearly economic plans for using it. No one is investing millions or billions in building it just to make the world a better place.

The metaverse is often defined as a massive, interconnected network of virtual spaces. That sounds similar to the Internet itself, but to move from one virtual world to another it seems that we will be wearing those awkward virtual reality goggles or maybe using augmented reality. We have some experience with those things now, but I know plenty of people who have never worn those goggles and have never experienced a computer-generated simulation of a 3D image or environment. They have never encountered some augmented reality where computer-generated images are superimposed on their view of the real world. And they have no real desire to do those things. That is a problem for those building the metaverse. If you build it, will they actually come to it? Examples of gaming and virtual meetings and shopping don't seem to me to be enough to entice the majority of consumers.

The reference to the film Field of Dreams most often quoted line "If you build it, they will come," is apt but keep in mind that the film is a fantasy. The field used in the film exists in reality. It was even used for a MLB game. But the ghost players emerging from the cornfield are more like augmented reality.

If they build the metaverse, will you come to it?


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