Why You Should Care About the Metaverse

An old idea is about to get a second life

Lance Ulanoff
OneZero
Published in
6 min readJul 29, 2021

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Photo by Richard Horvath on Unsplash

I’m hanging out in a virtual universe. Not a metaverse, per se, but it is relatively immersive environment, one that has digital friends, activities, its own internal commerce system, and that lets me teleport from one experience to another.

It’s also a relatively august virtual social network, one that existed when Mark Zuckerberg was first cooking up The Facebook.

Second Life is not my social network of choice. It’s a virtual environment far removed from its heyday 15 years ago when companies like Circuit City were building virtual stores and auto-manufactures like Nissan were launching virtual showrooms and vending machines where you could buy digital versions of their real cars.

Second Life was supposed to be the metaverse. Instead, it became a niche, yet tenacious environment that’s existed quietly on the sidelines as more traditional social networks like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, and TikTok took over the world.

For a taste of a Metaverse, hop or fly over to Second Life. (Credit: Second Life)

We’re talking about the metaverse now because Zuckerberg intends to build it, to succeed where companies like Second Life failed. Unlike a stand-alone social network like the one he launched in 2004, the metaverse is supposed to be a new Internet, a broad, wide, open, and interoperable space.

Zuckerberg announced his intention in a podcast discussion with The Verge’s Casey Newton, and he has not stopped talking about it since. During a recent earnings call — much of which Zuckerberg devoted to talking up the metaverse — Zuckerberg explained the concept this way:

“The defining quality of the metaverse is presence, which is this feeling that you’re really there with another person or in another place. Creation, avatars and digital objects are going to be central to how we express ourselves and this is going to lead to entirely new experiences and economic opportunities.”

It’s an expansive idea, one that encompasses most of the old and new technology and digital concepts you can think of:

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Lance Ulanoff
OneZero

Tech expert, journalist, social media commentator, amateur cartoonist and robotics fan.