I remember a famous interview David Letterman did with Bill Gates in 1995.
Gates was the richest man in the world and Letterman had the Show America’s most popular.
I’ll try to paraphrase the best part of the conversation:
-Letterman: What is the internet?
-Gates: A place where people post things on all topics, you can send emails, it’s incredible.
-Letterman: They just announced that you can listen to baseball games (in a mocking tone he said) the radio does the same.
-Gates: The difference is that you can listen to it whenever you want, not just when it is broadcast.
-Letterman: Have you heard the cassettes and the recorders? They allow you to do exactly that.
At the time, Gates looked like a geeky talking about an absurd technology. It was difficult to describe the differences between the internet, radio and television.
Today, where my washing machine and coffee maker are connected to the internet, the streaming it killed cable TV, podcasts killed radio, and Spotify killed physical records, it all makes sense.
It seems that no one can describe the metaverse, the word seems synonymous with cyberspace or the internet, this is because the term does not refer to a specific technology but to a change in the way we are going to interact with the web and , at some point, this term will become like ‘internet’, so broad that it stops describing something specific. Just like the internet in 1995.
The idea of a single metaverse as an alternate virtual world where we will all be most of the time, a virtual house will cost more than a physical one and we will replace reality with a virtual version, are almost impossible. It’s like saying that Google is the internet. There are multiple players who will develop software and ecosystems that we could call metaverses, including companies like Meta (formerly Facebook), Fortnite, Snapchat, Microsoft, among others.
The technologies the metaverse refers to is the evolution of the web as we know it. Before, we could access only with Netscape or Internet Explorer from a desktop computer and consume text and some images.
Then came the portals with their own ecosystems such as Yahoo!, MySpace and later Facebook, smartphones and then devices like the iPhone put the qualities of the web everywhere. In the future, augmented reality and virtual reality devices will allow us to consume information in different ways, more integrated into our lives.
The metaverse is here, and it’s not just one, we’re all connected virtually on WhatsApp, Instagram and Zoom.
Games like Fornite hold virtual concerts from real artists within the game. All this from computers, game consoles and smartphones.
If the Covid pandemic had hit in 1995, 90 percent of businesses would not have been able to operate. The technology was not ready. Imagine this last year without videoconferencing, e-mail, WhatsApp and digital payments. Over time, bridging physical and virtual experiences will become more natural, as it now seems simple for some to connect remotely to face-to-face meetings.
The metaverse is not a video game where you are your avatar and stop being you, it is the integration of technology into your life and work, eliminating more and more physical limits such as geographical location and interconnectivity.
Companies capable of integrating their systems for a truly omnichannel experience will be able to recruit the best global talent without compromising productivity or work environment.
Until next week: Manuel.
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