In this article we’ll dive into the relationship between Web 3.0 and the metaverse. These two concepts are related but describe different technology, and we’ve made it our job to make the distinction clear. Discover what the metaverse is, and how ownership of digital assets is poised to enhance it by driving value for immersive experiences
What is the Metaverse?
Truth be told, this is a question everyone gets to answer for themselves. You see the metaverse isn’t here yet so anyone claiming to know exactly what the metaverse is is taking liberties.
The general consensus is that the metaverse is a 3D version of the internet. It’s the unity of all the smaller microverses which are the 3D worlds being built right now, into a single platform.
“Today, Metaverse platforms like Roblox, Meta Horizons, and Decentraland are being used to create microverses, or siloed 3D environments where users can consume specific experiences. In the future, these environments may be connected, and become part of one large, interoperable 3D world hosted across platforms and networks” – Tailspin
It’s easy to buy into the marketing hype that metaverses are only about the use of immersive technologies like VR, AR and game engines.
The virtual worlds are only a part of it. We’ve had massive online multiplayer worlds like Second Life, Club Penguin, or Runescape for years now.
The metaverse is something more. Its own economy. The IT architecture that powers the metaverse will be unowned and beyond the control of any one company or state. The metaverse will be persistent. If you leave something on a shelf and log off, it will still be there tomorrow or in a year’s time. The metaverse will have interoperable assets. The avatars you buy in one digital room will be usable and tradable in another.
No one can say for sure if the assets and the trades will be facilitated by a blockchain, but it looks likely.
Perhaps some volunteer run network will fill the gap or something else entirely. We also don’t know if the metaverse will be a part of the internet or replace it completely.
Whag’s web 3.0?
Web 3.0 provides the ownership on decentralised platforms. It lets you own a book, song, picture, identity, or any other piece of data without entrusting it to a company’s server. Instead you trust a blockchain, which is sustained by its protocols and a network of people, like you or I, who contribute because it’s in their best interest.
We need a Web 3.0 because at the moment the internet is a sea full of isolated islands. Each website lives on its own domain name, its own servers, and all data is attached to these servers.
We need a layer separate from this that can store data independently, and handle changes to that data. If you own an NFT the rules that govern how to transfer its ownership are on a separate public network. You have a wallet, which contains a special key that the protocol uses like an account as permission to perform actions.
As the web has advanced so has what we can do on these islands. First we had static text, then users gained the ability to publish their own content.
In 2022, the browser is essentially its own operating system. The web apps that reside on these islands are as capable as the software that once ran exclusively on our computers. A website can be a game, or a service for tracking AirBnb vacancy.
A website can even be an app that lets a developer build other websites. Most of our work tools are now cloud based which means they are using the web as a hard drive and the browser as their OS.
The next step, Web 3.0, is when we connect all these islands into a continent. To create an internet where all these web apps can mutually exchange assets, data and messages, without needing to trust one another. To cake ownership into the internet rather than securing it across a fractured mess of owned servers. APIs, Websockets, Webhooks and other technology has achieved this to an extent, but it’s reliant on companies making their data available. Web 3.0 takes this to the next level.
How do we get from ownership to avatars and 3D worlds
Well what is an avatar? It’s just an online identity.
Once you own your online identity, and all the islands are connected together, this avatar can follow you around the web. It can be your identity on every site and service you visit.
Once assets are tradable and can be used across apps and services there’s going to be tremendous value to 3D world creation.
Here’s an example. We all know that Meta, Facebook’s parent company is heavily invested in building its own 3D environments.
Mark Zuckerberg teased their plans to include NFT support in these worlds during the connect keynote. Whatever you’ve heard about NFTs, they are just owned tokens. The code that says you own them is public, impossible to change, and it’s separate from Facebook’s servers.
Facebook and Twitter are both already letting users connect their NFTs to use as profile pictures, so it stands to reason they’ll do the same with 3D avatars in their virtual world.
Because Facebook doesn’t own these avatars, they can’t place restrictions on which company can verify and import an NFT into their world. They exist on unowned networks beyond Facebook’s control.
So if you build your own 3D world. Anyone can come along and load their virtual clothes, houses, cars, pets, memorabilia and tickets they bought into your world.
When there are millions of virtual worlds and 3D assets can be moved between them at will that’s going to spawn an incredible digital subset to the economy.
These 3D worlds are coming. They are being built with and without Web 3.0 ownership.
The biggest brands on earth are creating collaborative spaces for people to shop, socialise, game, conference, learn, and more in.
They aren’t doing it for the gimmick but because it makes solid business sense. Virtual showrooms increase ROI by enhancing the online shopping experience. Virtual tours can overcome distance to let people explore apartments, cities and destinations without needing to fly around the world. Virtual community games and spaces like Roblox are just fun to hang out in. Companies are hosting meetings in virtual boardrooms to give a real sense of presence and improve collaboration.
Piece by piece, it’s all coming together.
Let’s wrap this up
Including ownership into the internet will drive value for 3D world and asset creation. An avatar purchased on one platform will be usable on every platform. It will also be more secure as its longevity is no longer dependent on the financial success of a company, and the security of its private servers. Big tech companies like Meta are already building extensive virtual worlds, and so are smaller companies looking to host virtual trade shows or collaborate in a 3D environment. This is bootstrapping the metaverse, lowering the cost of development, and bankrolling the technology we’ll need to get us there.