If you’re a fan of tech news, then you’re likely aware that Facebook is making some big changes and transforming itself as Meta – but what does it all mean?
While our morning scroll session often feels like the modern day equivalent of reading the newspaper for all the latest news and gossip, it’s important to remember that Facebook was initially constructed to resemble a community. Quite literally millions of resources are within our reach in a matter of seconds, as well as the possibility of forming real connections. Of course, this was once the end goal for founder Mark Zuckerberg, who created the foundations of the social network all the way back in 2003.
However, it’s no secret that Zuckerberg is a fan of thinking big, and his rebranding the Facebook parent company as Meta – derived from the Greek word meaning “beyond” – in early November 2021 only solidifies this view point. According to Meta’s press release about the long term goal of the “metaverse”, Zuckerberg’s vision for Meta is to create a digital world where users can virtually meet, work and play using a VR headset, glasses or your device – think of it kind of like a real-life video game.
When pondering how Meta as a corporation will soon influence the way we work, play, socialise and ultimately live, it’s important to remember exactly which brands fall under the Facebook – and now, Meta – umbrella.
According to Facebook, connection is evolving, and so are we. While the Facebook web platform and eventual app are now regarded as one of the primary pioneers of social media, the corporation has now collected a wide variety of companies under its banner such as Instagram, WhatsApp, and Oculus. As the latter is one of the world’s leaders when it comes to headsets used for virtual reality technologies, this alone is perhaps one of the biggest indicators as to where Zuckerberg plans to take the Meta brand in the future.
With the Facebook parent brand now formally known as Meta Platforms Incorporated, Meta hopes to shift beyond its roster of two-dimensional social media platforms and propel itself as a groundbreaking pioneer for an interactive digital environment that it’s now dubbing as the Metaverse. While the individual Instagram, WhatsApp, and Facebook apps will remain unchanged, Meta is shifting its focus towards replicating the feeling of real social presence with interactions over the internet.
The future Metaverse that we’ve been promised by the tech giants in Silicon Valley is best summarised as an online digital social space, where users can meet, work, and play collaboratively across a variety of devices. The Metaverse is aiming to bridge the gap between virtual reality headsets, mobile devices, and laptops, and users can ‘enter’ a virtual environment that consists of interconnected worlds from apps to games.
A core part of the experience is creating a digital avatar of yourself, which is designed to help ground your presence in this next evolution of interacting with the web. If you’re inside the Metaverse using a VR headset like the Oculus Quest 2, you can communicate with others from a virtual environment of your choosing while represented by your digital avatars. Whether you’re in a casual chat with a friend or a work meeting, you can talk to people in the real world through their phone or webcam, while they’re displayed on a virtual screen in front of you.
If the concept is still baffling you, we would recommend taking the time to watch Steven Spielberg’s recent film “Ready Player One”, which essentially depicts a virtual realm not so different to what’s on offer through the Metaverse, and is also in the not so distant future. However, the film also offers a warning, and doesn’t shy away from the potential downsides of retreating to a virtual world in favour of engaging in the real one, so how the Metaverse will attempt to tackle this balance is anyone’s guess.
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