Metaversed: a book review and an interview with the author |  AR Post
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Metaversed: a book review and an interview with the author | AR Post

Metaverse: seeing beyond fashion is the new book by Samantha G. Wolfe and Luis Bravo Martins that features the metaverse stripped of its oversized, bulky, marketer-built cloud of expectations. The book presents a practical and balanced approach to using the metaverse as it exists today and preparing for how it might exist tomorrow.

AR Post received a copy of Metaverse and had the opportunity to interview the authors about how it came together and what they hope it will accomplish.

Preparing for the Metaverse

Metaverse starts with an important and common question in the industry: how do we prepare for the metaverse when we can’t agree on what it is?

Take the internet and bring it another dimension and release it into the phygital world [] it is almost impossible to fully understand the magnitude of this change.

Chapter One: Predictions

Right from the start, the authors present a working definition of the metaverse. This is not for the authors to throw their definition into the war of words already going on around the metaverse, but rather for everyone reading Metaverse has a common starting point.

For the authors, the metaverse is the next stage of the Internet and results from the evolution of a wide variety of emerging exponential technologies simultaneously maturing, converging and enabling a new interconnected relationship between physical and digital.

Chapter One: Predictions

Metaverse is not just about technology, but how technology affects us as a society and as individuals and about the societal trends that are helping to usher in the metaverse. These include moves towards remote work and education, decentralization, social media and the creator economy.

The challenges that would have to be met will require a multidisciplinary effort. Business professionals from all walks of life, teachers, lawyers, scientists, historians and sociologists, everyone can contribute their experience and knowledge so that we can begin to prepare for this tremendous change.

Chapter One: Predictions

A book written for anyone

Metaverse is written for a reader of any profession to encompass the entire metaverse. The second chapter presents all the technologies playing in the development of the metaverse. This includes immersive technologies such as Spatial Web, XR hardware and digital twins. It also includes Web3 and blockchain, cloud computing, AI and ML.

I feel like we’ve been through a hype cycle of metaverse as a term and now we’re kind of overwhelmed. People look beyond that and ask, What is it, really? Wolfe said. I hope that as people get past all this hype, they can ask what does this mean for me and what does this mean for my business?

readers of AR Post might be primarily interested in immersive technologies. Understanding the role these technologies will play in the larger changes of the coming years requires an understanding of other technologies, however remote they may seem.

The main topic is to bring people who don’t participate in all the discussions on the metaverse, says Martins. We need these people. We need a version of the metaverse that isn’t just created by technologists like us.

The book also discusses governments and standards bodies advancing the metaverse by protecting users and ensuring interoperability, respectively. Much of the value of the metaverse will be created by users, just like with the current web, but more fairly.

A true creator economy has been established, where communities not only spawn creators, but overall help them stay independent and relevant.[] With several new platforms available in the gaming industry and in so-called Web3 companies, new channels for distributing digital products and content are being considered and built.

Chapter Four: New Rules

Life and Work in the Metaverse

The largest chapter in the book, Metaversed Markets is an exhaustive exploration of how different industries use the existing iteration of the metaverse and how they can adapt to its development. While most of Metaverse discussed the opportunities in the metaverse and how to achieve them, four chapters are devoted exclusively to the challenges in the metaverse.

When we live in a hybrid reality of digital and physical objects, spaces and people that we seemingly use and own, will it all be real? The memories of our time immersed in these worlds will not tell us otherwise. [] We can learn from the risks involved and plan ahead for a better positive metaverse. But, to do this, we must first identify the main challenges.

Chapter Nine: Understanding Reality

These challenges partly have to do with technologies that have yet to be realized or optimized, but mostly relate to the human experience of adapting and living in the metaverse.

The goal is exactly to try to shed light not only on the potential of the metaverse [] but more than that to try to pass the stakes of the metaverse, says Martins. Presenting the challenges is not negative, it is facing those challenges [] Ultimately, what we want is to contribute to a more ethical metaverse.

Metaverse expresses the hope that governments and organizations like the XR Safety Initiative will help mitigate some of the risks. It also recognizes that much of the responsibility will fall on the users themselves.

Even though it’s uncomfortable, we need to discuss how emerging technologies can be monitored and regulated. We don’t have to cross our fingers and hope the big tech companies find out (again).

Chapter Ten: Privacy and Security in the Metaverse

Unanswered questions

Because we faced so many unanswered questions and unresolved technical challenges, there should be no shame in saying I don’t know or we don’t know when asked about the future. [] for better or for worse, were in the same boat.

Chapter Twelve: The New Humanity

The thing that struck me the most about Metaverse was his honesty. The authors are confident in their predictions but never present these predictions as fact. Overall, it sounds like a conversation rather than a speech or sales pitch.

At the end of the day, technology works so fast and changes so completely in unexpected ways [] it’s a kind of exercise, says Martins. Hopefully what we can offer is more logical thinking.

How Metaversed Was Born

Wolfe and Martins have a long history, even though they haven’t met in person yet. The two started talking after Martins read Marketing New Realities, which Wolfe co-authored with Cathy Hackl in 2017. Afterward, Martins was a guest lecturer in Wolfes’ classes at New York University’s Steinhardt School. Martins was asked to write a book and knew who to talk to for a co-author.

It all started with this opportunity offered by the publisher. At that time there was this huge push regarding the metaverse and I was thinking of doing something backwards, focusing entirely on the challenges, says Martins. I decided that this approach wouldn’t be the best possible way to explain to people who don’t know much or aren’t as involved.

Bringing Wolfes on board provided the balance Martins was looking for. It has also expanded the extensive network of experts who have contributed their knowledge to Metaverse.

He wanted to write this book about what can go wrong, but I tend to be pretty positive, Wolfe said. I also tend to look at how this all applies to business.

Although based in different countries and working on the book largely asynchronously, the two decided to write Metaverse in one voice, rather than going back and forth through chapters. While the book doesn’t feel divided (at least not for people who don’t know the authors very well), both have chapters they think they put more into.

In the end, I think we were all very involved in the writing and of course the research, says Martins. There were chapters that were facilitated by one of us or the other, and some, especially the early chapters, were very consensual.

A digestible book, if not in a single sitting

Metaverse: seeing beyond fashion is currently available on Amazon. The book, weighing in at over 300 pages, may or may not take a long time to read from cover to cover depending on where you are in your metaverse journey. However, the book was also designed to be incredibly navigable, making it easy to read or re-read as you see fit.

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