The Metaverse Will Drive Massive Innovation (and Facebook Isn’t the Metaverse)

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Here’s an interesting one: the metaverse isn’t what Mark Zuckerberg says it is. It is not a place or an alternate reality that we will all emigrated to. It’s not a game. It is not a land grab (although it is going on). And it’s not just a Great branding opportunity (although there are plenty of opportunities for the brand to thrive).

The truth is, reverse is a decentralized system that has a lot in common with peer-to-peer services like Napster, Skype, and BitTorrent. Oh, and Facebook and Meta don’t.

Wait, what?

The decentralized peer-to-peer network is where all technologists gather and create an architecture that drives innovation. And the same is true of the metaverse.

I’ll give you two relevant examples to understand the metaverse (full disclosure, I had the pleasure of working with both companies earlier in my career).

Founded in 2003, Skype is part of a wave of technologies (including BitTorrent, Kazaa, and Napster) that connect personal computers automatically and reliably. These networks have been optimized for bandwidth and reduce congestion when mining popular content. Why is Skype able to rise above the competition as a key player in the market? Peer-to-peer technology. It creates a network of nodes allowing for an always-on super-efficient community and a connected network. This means that it is not bound by the restrictions of any telecommunications service provider.

Of course, when Skype moved to the Azure platform, the core technology changed. But when it first appeared, Skype was revolutionary and ushered in an incredible series of innovations that continue to make our lives better today.

Or use Spotify. Like Skype, it uses peer-to-peer technology to store and deliver content. Decentralization allowed the service to attract millions of users and provide great sound, and eventually the service became popular. The fingerprints about innovation and the decentralized peer-to-peer disruption that is changing the world is all over the internet.

And that brings us back to the metaverse

The real metaverse promise is faster, better, and cheaper new data-rich experiences and services, whether it’s in finance, virtual socialization, business meetings, healthcare or anything else we can imagine. Metaverse will cover all of these use cases and they will all be decentralized. In fact, decentralization is not just a feature of the open metaverse, it is a core principle that will avoid congestion and enable interoperability across wall gardens.

Over the past 20 years, we have seen peer-to-peer or decentralized technologies start as a marginalized technology built for tech enthusiasts, whether it’s file sharing, peer-to-peer music. or cryptocurrency mining. But these technologies need to be viewed in the context of time and how they improve the user experience, whether that’s enabling free video and calls or enabling instant music services like Spotify.

The next generation of peer-to-peer services will enable even more participation of users who, in a decentralized metaverse, can work directly with each other and trust the network for things like money transfers and social media instead of relying on a centralized operator or service. We’re looking at you, Meta and Facebook.

Napster is a decentralized network with a central index. And that’s what Facebook is trying to build. Napster was at the heart of the network and it failed. While BitTorrent, a truly decentralized network, is a self-regulating and self-regulating technology that powers a rich ecosystem that has been around for a long time.

History shows that open networks win

The architecture of the metaverse will be more like BitTorrent – or better, blockchain. Blockchain is truly decentralized and distributed. We don’t even know who created the ledger. There is no central index. And blockchain has ushered in an innovation boom that will only grow in the coming years.

You might be tempted to roll your eyes at blockchain, cryptocurrency, or NFT, but don’t think of those as finished products. They are the prototype of the operating system for how we will move forward.

And just in case you think decentralized peer-to-peer connectivity is still limited, consider who invested in the early technologies and who is investing in the same space today: Tim Draper . He’s a big advocate for peer-to-peer technology in companies like Skype, and he also believes that blockchain and bitcoin solutions are better, faster, and cheaper than fiat currencies. Same guy, different year, natural evolution.

We wouldn’t have free video calling if we didn’t have a peer-to-peer network. We wouldn’t have instant music anywhere in the world without peer-to-peer. And we wouldn’t have crypto without peer-to-peer. Even the Internet wouldn’t exist without it! All of these technologies we take for granted have their roots in decentralization.

And the metaverse is just the next step on that journey.

Faisal Galaria is the CEO of Blippar, a technology company specializing in AR. He is also the former CEO of Skype and Spotify.


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