The New Meta

On Thursday, 29th October, 2021 Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that the Facebook Company would now be called Meta. Facebook has attracted severe criticism from its users. The long standing privacy concerns that Facebook bundles with its use has become a topic for public debate and deliberation. With rebranding, timing is everything and Zuckerberg’s decision to rename his brainchild “Meta” couldn’t have come at a better time when Facebook’s public image had been at an all time low.

Looking over Facebook’s social reputation, and debating whether it’s rebranding is a move to divert the public from the issues that plague the company, let us discuss a little bit about what Meta is all about.

The Facebook company is now Meta.

Meta would oversee all of Facebook’s current products i.e. instagram, messenger, facebook and whatsapp, as well as all those products that the company would develop in the future. Zuckerberg believes that the name “Facebook” doesn’t quite reflect the businesses that the company deals in; rather, it is related to only one of the company’s products. “Meta” is more than a mere rebranding, it is Zuckerberg’s vision and the pathway to Metaverse.

One might ask what the Metaverse is? The term “metaverse” finds its origin in sci-fi author Neal Stephenson’s novel “Snow Crash”. Synonymous with Neal Stephenson’s picturisation in his novel, the metaverse describes a virtual world, where people would live by the identities of their digital avatars.

The metaverse is a multidimensional, virtual space where we can connect with each other without our physical presence. In the metaverse people would be able to digitally connect with each other and live their life as they would in actuality. One could even buy digital commodities in such a world, which they would be able to fund via the use of nonfungible tokens (nfts) and cryptocurrencies.

Two key features of  the metaverse are digital presence  and interoperability. These two features ensure that our digital avatars can move anywhere in this virtual world. This would mean that at one point, I could be attending a concert and at another point of time I could be purchasing groceries for myself at a convenience store. And this transition from  a concert hall to my local store could be made within a matter of a few seconds. Metaverse is tomorrow’s technology and aims to succeed the internet. It is the marketplace of tomorrow.

The possibility of Metaverse is quite far-fetched and the concept seems straight out of a science fiction movie but in reality the tools that are required to create this physically augmented virtual world already exist. Tech giants including Amazon,Microsoft,Apple, Google and Facebook(now Meta )have all been investing billions of dollars into VR(virtual reality) and AR( augmented reality). Smart glasses, holographic watches, VR and AR headsets are viewed as devices which could blend the physical and digital worlds together. Investments in the AR industry have been growing at an exponential rate.

Although this industry is very niche, in the future, it is expected that more and more consumers would be able to access such products as VR and AR become more mainstream. But for the time being, the question remains who or which company would head the metaverse race? Would it be a monopoly as it was in the case of social media wherein Facebook controlled the majority share of the social networking market? Or would it be a more decentralized control wherein many companies would cooperate to create this new digital world?

The metaverse race is on.

Author: Parminder Singh

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