OPINION: The Metaverse and ‘Web 3’ aren’t even here and they’re already cringe
Coinbase chief exec Brian Armstrong is among a raft of business leaders who included vague thoughts on a potential Metaverse in their third quarter earnings call.
And while overriding consensus says the Metaverse is predestined, nobody actually seems to agree on what it is or what it will do.
The Metaverse projects the notion that we’ll not only use computers to interact, but we’ll actually “live” inside a digital universe of hyperconnected virtual realities.
This will mean meeting up with friends, gaming, shopping, attending conferences, and enjoying concerts in a virtual world.
In Coinbase’s earnings call, Armstrong concluded that crypto may be used in the Metaverse, somehow, at some point.
“I think with the tens of millions of Americans out there now using this asset class for all kinds of things, not just financial services and unique payments and things like that, but also art and new forms of governance, identity, and the Metaverse,” said Armstrong (via CNBC, our emphasis).
“And it’s just so exciting that the millions of young people, the talented young people all over the US are coming into this field.”
Metaverse is nothing new, but the VCs are
Pockets of Metaverse already exist and have for decades. Second Life, launched in 2003, is perhaps the most widely recognized.
So, think Second Life, but one that’s also tied to the other virtual realities on offer — traversable via super-fast broadband and virtual reality headsets.
Many household names have already started to make their move into the Metaverse. The likes of Microsoft, Epic Games, and Roblox have all launched their own online worlds, events, or products.
But the ways crypto and the Metaverse relate aren’t so well-defined.
NFT startups (and the venture capitalists that fund them) have positioned themselves at the forefront of that intersection; blockchain-powered digital collectibles could persist throughout the Metaverse, tied to our avatars.
Similarly, a blockchain system would manage our identities for seamless transition between ‘real life’ and the virtual worlds. Various crypto tokens could also fund and manage life within the Metaverse.
As relayed by Cointelegraph, Metaverse-centric tokens like WAX, Gala, and Decentraland all surged after Mark Zuckerberg’s ‘Meta’ rebrand of Facebook (which says it will support NFTs).
‘Web 3.0’ is the same kind of ugly
Even dating app Bumble’s president Tariq M. Shaukat name-dropped ‘Web 3.0’ in his earnings call.
Web 3.0 is the new favorite term of crypto’s VC class, which is vying to weasel itself onto the right side of history when the internet switches from relying on centralized service providers to decentralized alternatives (that run on blockchains).
Shaukat called the potential for blockchain and crypto to play a role for Bumble’s users “exciting.”
“On the Metaverse piece, we’re really taking a ‘Web 3’ lens on this in particular,” said Shaukat.
“But what we really think is really interesting in the near term is the application of blockchain and crypto in general to the experience that our communities have,” he added (our emphasis).
Indeed, the hype surrounding crypto’s role in the Metaverse reeks of the same ‘blockchain’ stench that wafted over the internet in late 2017.
Read more: [Ethereum is making the same mistakes as the Bitcoin hard fork attempts]
Back then, blockchain startups promised to revolutionize the web with their glorified, centralized databases. ‘Blockchain, not Bitcoin,’ they said, as they promised to decentralize vending machines and save journalism.
This cycle, we have the ‘Web 3.0’ meme and its mangy cousin, the Metaverse.
Both concepts are propelled by rent-seeking VCs pretending to be technologists, pitching tokens to newborn believers and other normies now familiar with NFTs and crypto (thanks to CryptoPunks, Bored Apes, and Dogecoin).
Both Web 3.0 and the Metaverse — and crypto’s role inside them — may be inevitable, but the cringe is already overpowering.
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