The Metaverse Building Another Reality
Expanding Our Daily Lives with the Metaverse
In October, Facebook changed its name to “Meta” and announced plans to build the Metaverse. The Metaverse is a digital space where various activities such as work, entertainment, and economic transactions can take place. Overseas, even weddings have been held in the Metaverse.
What’s important here is the technology like VR (virtual reality) and AR (augmented reality). CEO Louis Rosenberg of “Unanimous AI,” which provides the platform “Swarm” utilizing AI for predictions and decisions, predicts that “within 10 years, AR glasses will become ubiquitous and replace smartphones as the means to interact with digital content.” There’s a possibility that people without AR glasses won’t be able to see prices even when they go to a shop.
A revolution like the Metaverse has happened before with the advent of the telephone, which enabled communication with people far away. These past examples can provide insights into the spread of the Metaverse. Bip Jassawalla, who investigates human behavior between reality and digital, states, “In the era of smartphones, we touch our smartphones more than we talk to our families.”
However, this also raises concerns as we transition to living more in the digital world than in reality. There’s a moment when we start living more in the digital world than in reality. Rosenberg says, “I’m convinced this time will come, and it won’t be good for humanity.”
Nevertheless, the Metaverse is still in its early stages. A massive market growth is anticipated, and it holds the potential to evolve in ways we can’t imagine with our current perspective.
Creating Rules for Building a New Worldview
Amidst the growing attention to the Metaverse, many may reminisce about various contents that have portrayed virtual worlds. For instance, as we approach the release of the first new installment in 18 years of “The Matrix,” a groundbreaking work (the first installment was released a year before I was born), might come to mind. In my case, the virtual world “OZ” from “Summer Wars” emerges as the original scenery.
From administrative consultations to facility reservations and virtual tourism, a virtual world that completes various services. Such fiction is now becoming adjacent to reality.
For example, Seoul, South Korea, has announced plans to build its own Metaverse platform by the end of 2022. They plan to gradually offer various services, including administrative consultations, facility reservations, and virtual tourism.
Moreover, the Caribbean island nation of Barbados plans to establish a Metaverse embassy on the virtual space “Decentraland.” They view the trend of the Metaverse as a new diplomatic opportunity, engaging in efforts such as issuing electronic visas and constructing teleporters to move avatars between various worlds.
However, projects that incorporate administrative functions into the Metaverse raise concerns, as there are no precedents. Certainly, as the connection between reality and virtual space becomes stronger, challenges such as ensuring identity freedom and privacy will arise.
Particularly, the wide range of self-expression, like freely editing appearances, voices, and gestures, using multiple avatars/personalities, is a significant allure of the Metaverse, so it must be secured.
In Seoul’s case, measures are being taken to minimize the collection and use of personal information, such as allowing the use of handles instead of real names.
Therefore, rather than imposing established concepts, the creation of rules that respect the new worldview of the Metaverse or even building a new worldview will be necessary.
Unlimited Fashion Expression
“Why does digital fashion for avatars often feature unconventional designs like costumes?” That was an honest question I had. In this week’s featured GQ article, the founders of digital fashion brand “RTFKT,” which is known for items like sneakers, discuss the importance of fashion in the Metaverse and why it often features unique designs.
The major difference between the real world and the Metaverse is that avatars can unleash people’s creativity and transcend limits. The presence of robot-like sneakers or clothes engulfed in flames is a result of the fantasy expression enabled by the absence of physical constraints.
In other words, fashion design demanded by the Metaverse could differ from that of the real world. In the past 2-3 months, many brands, including Balenciaga and Stefan Cooke, have announced their entry into the Metaverse. However, each brand needs to devise new strategies.
Conversely, the fashion industry in the Metaverse isn’t a realm where a singular genius designer prevails as it did before. New designers without formal fashion education will likely emerge. The new world of the Metaverse opens doors to many.
Premiumization of Memories
The other day, during a break amidst my test period (clearly a time meant for studying), I took a spontaneous trip to London. On the final day of my trip, I rushed to visit the British Museum, where works by Hokusai were being sold as NFTs.
NFTs use blockchain technology to attach identifiable codes to individual data, making it possible to detect replication, data alterations, and establish uniqueness. This significantly elevates the “ownership” value, while also generating added value through transaction fees and sales profits.
The British Museum in London has not only hosted a large-scale exhibition of Katsushika Hokusai’s works from September this year but also partnered with the blockchain platform LaCollection to begin selling Hokusai’s works as digital image NFTs. The exhibition showcases a staggering 103 pieces of Hokusai’s works, an unprecedented scale. Additionally, over 200 works by Hokusai, including those from the iconic “Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji” series and recently discovered pieces, are available for online purchase as NFTs.
Museums selling NFTs of their works aren’t limited to the British Museum; institutions like the Whitworth Museum in Manchester and the Uffizi Gallery in Florence are also selling media-archived works as NFTs.
Whenever I visit museums, I make it a point to purchase postcards of the artworks I like as mementos. During my study abroad, whenever I traveled, I would buy postcards from various museums and send them to family and friends—a well-established routine. Of course, I also collect postcards for myself, resulting in a substantial collection. While the idea of these memories being digitized tantalizes my collector’s instinct, it also somehow feels like losing a bit of warmth.