I’m a woman who loves a healthy dose of philosophical beef in her diet. I have just watched the strangely multiversal Beef on Netflix. It’s my second binge. Beef in the metaverse seems to be at an all time high for me. I’m simply losing ways of being able to defend the indefensible. The tl;dr is, there's a lot of crap floating around this beautiful marriage of technology and well, us, the people, our social experiences and all that lovely stuff. Imagine a wedding dress made of used but unflushed toilet paper, that sums up the strange dichotomy of design and output currently. This is a message to you if you are reading this, an open letter; please stop creating vaporware.
A Bag of Smashed Crabs 🦀
We all took a collective sigh of relief when metaverse fashion week was over. In many ways, we just felt sorry for everyone involved didn’t we? It was like a slow car crash of people not really knowing what they were doing there and feeling devastated when that vintage ball gown by [insert your boujee lux label here] was squeezed into a 512kb render. Sads. Well, huntys, that was so last month, because guess what? Metaverse beauty week is coming! [GROAN]
For the mildly interested, it’s running from the 12th of June to the 16th. It promises to be the first event hosted on immersive social platforms (using those terms so loosely I hope) Decentraland, Roblox and Spatial. The brainchild of the week we haven’t asked for (and we’re still smarting from the fashion one) is Cult LDN. They're organising the week, and they've included the participation of big names whose names include, er, wait, nope. There are no big names here. There are only names of folks Cult LDN have worked with on things other than Metaverse Beauty Week. In the meantime, if anyone wants to buy a bag of magic beans, please drop me a line.
Mar 30, 2022 and the metaverse no one asked for is announced on Twitter. “We are happy to welcome you to SHIB : The Metaverse. An immersive experience that is positioned to become a massive environment for the #ShibArmy to grow, share, and benefit together.” I’m so glad I put my life on hold for this one because great news, Elon’s dog fans, SHIB the Shiba Inu Metaverse will partially open by the end of 2023 developers have said.
Yes, we know development takes time and as I always like to say “don’t build your own metaverse” but no one is listening, so here we are.
Right, let's see what types of cool areas will we be able to “build, design, play and develop” within? Nope, there’s perhaps one still. Ok. Well let’s see what else is happening. There's going to be 100,000+ plots of land to be maintained by users— that sounds cool, right? And we can create our own avatars “fashioned as humanoid dogs to explore, visit and interact with lands and contribute to the in-game economy”. So more limited fun for people to experience provided they can put their hands in their pockets, great. Is anyone sick and tired of this crap?
The Metaverse Through Gary Gilmore’s Eyes👀
AI-driven social Metaverse company Social Future has raised $6 million in funding. They want to create the “future of the social experience with digital interaction, immersive content and self-sovereign communities”. Their product is called MAY which stands for Meet Another You and enables “immersive social experiences via personalised avatars”. How does that work? Let's find out.
Well, it’s a one-click NFT space type thing, so, 3D internet/Geocities style digital landfill, then? Since their launch in January 2023 they've grown their user base over 100,000 users from North America, but more importantly more than 20,000 Unique Active Wallets (they, um, abbreviated it to UAW), have been activated mostly to a crypto native audience. Their MPC wallet will soon be launched to “seamlessly bridge web2 to users, allowing them to enjoy the web3 benefits of ownership protection for their social content.” This is a big pitch for the wallets which is no bad thing. I think people should use wallets more. But this limited social internet/geocities thing is a bit amorphous when we don’t entirely know how it will work. Also, creating barriers to entry for new web3 users is social sabotage. This article is a little bit like all of the other stories that I’ve ast an eye on today: immersive needs and explanation, social metaverses need more of a description than avatars and facial expressions.
I’m Changi, Fly Me. ✈️
It was over 20 years ago since I flew to Australia to meet my boyfriend who was subsequently knee-capped in Sydney. Long story. Anyway, I stopped over in Changi and all I remember from that 4 hour stopover was I went for a cigarette (I was such a rebel then—what happened?) and passed out, such was the humidity. Even back then I thought that Changi Airport was the future. But today I feel like it’s the future for forgettable brand activations that no one has asked for.
Airports, my people, are not destinations. Airports generally, are supposed to be the point with which you depart from somewhere or land somewhere. It's not the final destination of where you go. And, you know, Changi is not even the most boring airport I’ve ever been to* so I’m trying to figure out in my tiny woman brain how in the name of all that is Changi, would a futuristic airport choose to activate inside Roblox (and call it Changiverse)? At least they didn’t build their own. Can you imagine?
To be honest, I scratch my head about why anyone activates anything in Roblox but, ok. As a passenger who offsets my carbon, I’m not entirely sure how this activation can be fun. Step forward Accenture and now it all makes sense. So if outdoor dinosaur display attractions, a distinctive Changi control tower and a plane hanger turns you into a horndog, get thee to Roblox. There's even going to be a bunch of minigames in there to support the airport experience. I'm running my hands on my knees just thinking about it. Mmmm, a Antonov An-225 Mriya, pfft. People. I kindly ask you to remember that everyone in Roblox is made out of blocks. Nothing looks good as a block, have you seen my hips? These avatars have weird smiles, this platform is mostly aimed at kids and weekend dads. I just don't know how this is going to persist and be sustainable enough inside the metaverse for people to go, “I would really like to go to Changi Airport just for the weekend to see what it's like” No! That's not how airports work.
*East Midlands Airport
ChatGPT on Speed Dial 📞
Finally, mind the gender gap. Ugh. Women are underrepresented in the metaverse blah, blah, blah. Girl, women are underrepresented everywhere in every industry with a few minuscule exceptions. Since McKinsey brought that gender report out, every couple of months or so, someone (usually a woman) repositions this “women in the metaverse being underrepresented” as pure fact. So let’s drill down a little further. This article is about 1. “In 2020, women made up just 20 percent of Microsoft tech jobs, and 23 per cent of tech jobs at Facebook, Google and Apple. Over the last two years, total representation of women in big tech jobs decreased by 2.1 per cent – smaller tech companies had an even more significant decline at 5.1 per cent. At the very top, women hold a mere 10.9 percent of CEO or senior leadership roles. And at the largest tech firms, that number is even lower – only 5 percent of CEOs are women.” These are tech stats not metaverse stats. 2. If you can be bothered to obtain a copy of the amazing book Women of the Future: Web3 and the Metaverse, you will read 100 amazing stories of women in loads of metaverse leadership roles (including yours truly).
So this article is a bit clickbaity: which is sad. I will definitely refer you to previous articles that have been written about this (Google ‘em), it even appeared in this very newsletter just a few months ago, because anything else feels much more authentic than this opinion-led piece about gender bias. The truth is that every other woman I talk to currently is involved in the metaverse in some way, shape or form. The problem is that managerial and senior positions in these spaces are underrepresented by women because that’s how start-up verticals are: they are always underrepresented by something. Now that is true. But that's true across the board. There are very very few places in leadership where women are in charge, and it is that which has to change.
So that’s enough metaverse for this week. I'm off to do my homework on two web3 and metaverse luminaries who I feel privileged to interview for my Metacrun.ch meets… series. Don’t forget! You can playlist us, watch us and subscribe for even more.