Since Mark Zuckerberg changed the company name from Facebook to Meta Platforms in October of last year, the term “metaverse” has become a hot buzzword in technology, business, and other fields of society.
The move also marks Zuckerberg’s new focus on building virtual worlds in which people can “live” as virtual humans.
But in fact, ordinary people have been able to access these virtual worlds for almost 20 years, since the launch of the Second Life platform in 2003.
However, Second Life inventor and Linden Lab founder Philip Rosedale’s vision of the metaverse is diametrically opposed to Zuckerberg’s plans.
“We are not technically ready for a 3D metaverse based on VR headsets. The technology in this area is not yet mature. On the other hand, and more specifically about Meta, Facebook’s business model was based on a very complex advertising business involving behavioral targeting through a lot of surveillance and personal data. So this is not a safe business model for the metaverse,” he said.
Rosedale also highlighted that Second Life has proved that it is possible to create a virtual world that protects people’s privacy without relying on advertising. After all, Second Life’s business model is fee-based.
In the virtual world there are two types of fees. One concerns payment for land in Second Life. If you want, say, land the size of Los Angeles, you’ll pay about $20 per acre per month.
Meanwhile, the other fee is for transactions, when selling virtual goods to other people. In this case, the fee is based on a percentage of the transaction amount.
According to Rosedale, Second Life’s annual revenue per active user exceeds that of Facebook and YouTube.
“This suggests that the metaverse doesn’t necessarily need a Facebook-like business model. But if Meta chooses to use this business model for the metaverse, it will be very scary and even threaten the existence of the metaverse.”
Rosedale also noted that one of the things that sets the metaverse apart from the traditional internet is the possibility of encounter.
“In Metaverse, the experiences we want to achieve include university classrooms and live music events. This requires us to bring together hundreds or even thousands of people who can see and hear each other,” he points out.
Rosedale also revealed that since he launched SecondLife has learned that the way people interact with the internet changes from person to person and from time to time:
“People in Second Life live together, share a home and work together. So they start to trust each other like they do in the real world. If you do it right, it’s possible for people on the Internet to build trust with one another. And that is essential for the metaverse to move forward.”
Finally, he pointed out that over the past 20 years, technology, especially social media, has done the opposite. In other words, it put everyone in a fragmented space. The result of this is a breach of trust:
“Trust is a central keyword. In 1994, we thought more information was better. We never stop to think if there is already too much information. Today we realize that a lot of information turns into noise and starts to destroy trust between people.”