What’s All the Hype About Metaverse? How Will the Virtual World Shape Media?

Pioneering theorist and venture capitalist Matthew Ball defines metaverse as a “persistent and interconnected network of 3D virtual worlds that will eventually serve as the gateway to most online experiences, and also underpin much of the physical world”. Ball’s writing on metaverse has influenced industry leaders including Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who has pledged to invest a considerable amount of his company’s resources into the field.

As a blockchain-based virtual world, Metaverse is all set to transform every industry from finance to healthcare to trade and beyond, with companies and technophiles from all over the world racing to invest.

Metaverse takes you into a world of overwhelming extended reality, transporting you beyond your imagination. You can meet your friend in New York, while you are still in the UAE, and play basketball as if you are in one team, feeling and sensing the movements of the ball, its texture, the sound of its bounce, and the movements of other players in the team. You spend time together, in reality, but in its augmented version.

As Matthew Ball explains, “The metaverse is a massively scaled and interoperable network of real-time rendered 3D virtual worlds which can be experienced synchronously and persistently by an effectively unlimited number of users with an individual sense of presence, and with continuity of data, such as identity, history, entitlements, objects, communications, and payments.”

How huge is the investment in metaverse?

The Republic Realm, New York, announced on December 12, 2021, that it spent a record USD4.3 million to purchase land through The Sandbox, a platform that allows access to a virtual world where participants can chat, play, and even take part in concerts. In November 2021, Canadian singer Justin Bieber held a live concert in metaverse, which was attended by thousands of people, who bought tickets from virtual kiosks with cryptocurrency.

Digital currencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum are gaining traction in the virtual world, redefining reality. 10 years ago, the reality was not the same as what we see today, and 10 years from now, it will not be the same as what we live now.

Is technology creating a new digital life?

In a world accustomed to transcending geographical boundaries with modern technologies from video chat applications to artificial intelligence, it would not be surprising to be able to live with a cartoon character, for example, in a virtual country in which you own land and a home, and water your virtual plants daily so that they do not wither in the digital sunlight.

The question today is, how will the new world change the future of media?

The future of media, especially digital media, is mainly related to the means of communication, the place of broadcasting, and the concentration of the target audience in the virtual world. Advertisements could be put up on digital billboards in the virtual streets, or perhaps they will come up with new ways to advertise, such as preventing you from entering your digital rental home before seeing their ad; after all, it is not only you who can control the virtual world.

Does this sound like a fantasy? Well, it is not. Companies and technophiles around the world are competing to build their own metaverse world, and at the same time, they are creating devices to interact with it, which will allow them to collect detailed information about users, their interests and behaviour in the virtual world, and thereby create targeted ads and campaigns and measure the results.

What about privacy?

The concept of privacy in metaverses is still blurry to an extent. In a world where people are already concerned about the lack of privacy with digital platforms, privacy in the virtual world will almost be impossible. Every human movement will be recorded via biometric data, and free data with personal and behavioural characteristics will be available to everyone.

How will news anchoring change?

Perhaps we will come to a day when news platforms take interviews from virtual avatars, or the anchor’s avatar will present a 9am news bulletin explaining human achievements, fears, and challenges in the virtual world.

Content makers and influencers may be able to share their stories directly to millions of followers, and deliver their ads in more effective ways. Imagine an influencer on YouTube interacting with her 3 million followers, all gathered in one place!

Is metaverse the next big thing in the history of human civilization?

Perhaps, yes. In large areas within the metaverse, cities and commercial markets might include the finest international brands, countries will compete to open their embassies, and nations will allocate huge budgets to develop their own virtual world. There will be creative ideas and empowered people who will shape and transform the virtual world.