This week’s 'A Week in Metacrun.ch' has an air of corporate about it - from Dallas Cowboys to Silicon Valley “wrestlers”, it’s pretty grown-up and official. You know me, I’m not a fan of sitting on the fence - so I’ll give it to you straight: this week, the metaverse is pretty centralised.
When you think about streaming platforms, web3 doesn't exactly pop directly into your head, or does it? But streaming the way that you want to stream before diving into something up close and personal with your fave athletes, celebrities and creators is definitely a web3 way of the future. So it's very refreshing that Fireside, who would like you to know that they are the first interactive web3 streaming platform, has decided to expand into sports and esports. Not only are they serial entrepreneurs, but also one of them is the Dallas Mavericks owner, Mark Cuban. Everybody knows who Mark Cuban is. It's Fireside’s dream to figure out how they're going to pull together the most perfect fan-focused behind-the-scenes access all areas that you associate with everything from WWE to footie.
Working directly with companies as diverse as branding and championship leagues, Fireside promises that it will be able to get us closer than ever to the sports and the experiences that we love inside the world of sports (Dickie Davis not included). Shall I tell you what I think? I think this sounds exactly like what you’re thinking. OnlyFans for sports. Anyone?
They say old friends are like old jeans. So it's really, really exciting to think that the next big NFT thing is actually really sustainable to boot. About time too. NFT collection Deadfellaz have partnered with Wrangler Jeans to build a phygital collection, bringing vintage denim to web3. How interesting it is that just 2 or 3 years ago, we were considering NFTs to be nothing more than JPEGs and memes and GIFs and literally images that had no utility whatsoever apart from bragging rights. This fills my heart with joy. The very idea that Wrangler and Deadfellaz have come together to create a community around the stories of vintage jeans that you, the player, can participate in is a game-changer for any naysayers who still can’t seem to get their bird brains around the intersection of fashion and games - hello? McFly? It’s here. The community is built around a choose-your-own-interactive storyline, which picks the outcome of a digital comic strip. This comic strip is drawn by the legendary Leon Lee and comes from the two brands partnering with the web3 platform LTD.INC. The merchandise drop of 20 NFC-infused vintage Wrangler Jeans is ongoing, with several items up for grabs from the Wrangler X Deadfellaz collab, and this is the first merchandise drop for this collab. These 20 pairs of NFTs or jeans are linked to the NFT of a final comic strip.
The reason why this is so important is that it's combining the young bucks with a 75-year-old brand effortlessly. And what a way to bring Wrangler into the world of web3! We own too much stuff. And so it's really important to explore the possibility of choosing exactly what it is that we want and don't want so that we don't have too much stuff and that we can just instead enjoy the opportunity of wearing digital layovers or filters or just simply owning an NFT that we really like. I have only one thing that I absolutely detest about this collab though. They called the community The Horde. The Horde? Does this mean that the anti-community is The Alliance? If you know, you know.
I am not the world's biggest fan of government regulation. I am a bad girl. I know. But I’m not against regulation and standardisation - working in a decentralised world means that we should regulate ourselves: put your big girl pants on and own your shit. Put your big boy pants on and be responsible. That's the whole purpose of a decentralised autonomous organisation - to make decisions based on the good of the platform/people/metaverse/foundation. This isn’t the dark web, so I wonder why in their wisdom, the US government is approaching the XR massive of headsets and glasses with a good kettling? Forbes has recently discussed why the future of the metaverse might lie in the FCCs hands. And this is a truly disappointing story, because this sounds exactly like the advent and the early stages of web1. You remember web1, don’t you? That clunky powered by dialup experience that was somehow governed by Team America: World Police. So why this now? I guess that where there are opportunities to regulate within platforms; the Federal Communications Commission should probably take it, and I say that this is a really bad idea. So what’s the problem? And why do we need a heavy solution? “This agency will decide whether XR remains confined indoors or let loose in the world; whether it becomes a mobile technology capable of transforming our daily lives or a limited tool for gaming and training.”
Apple, Meta and other tech companies have proposed two possible situations to presumably self-govern without the intervention of the FCC. The first one is called VLP (very low power), which focuses mainly on the connection of the FCC to the headset and the amount of latency communication and interaction that headsets present and produce. The other technology, called client-to-client (C2C) communication, sounds a bit like something we’ve heard before, doesn’t it? P2P anyone? Anyone?
I've been doing a lot of travelling lately. I was very excited to read that potentially, the US military is becoming metaversal. Of course, for me, this is not a massive piece of news. I imagine for the US military, it's not a huge piece of news, either. On May 10th 2022, two fighter pilots in the US used VR headsets to simulate air-to-air refuelling. Yes, fashion is important, and yes, socialising is the max, but this shows just how we can use the metaverse and associated tools, such as VR, to simulate extreme tasks in dangerous or hazardous scenarios or that are simply too costly to reconstruct irl. If this excites you as much as it does me, I urge you to read my recent Metacrun.ch article about this/digital twins.
My take is this: The metaverse lends itself perfectly as a virtual environment or playground for the military to be able to train in. In the 1980s. They developed SIMNET, which was to train a group of soldiers for missions collectively, globally. And as someone who has been in the military, it’s a damn sight cheaper than tearing up some brownland outside of [insert your European territory here]. The project allowed soldiers to go back and replay battles so they could learn from their mistakes and prevent them from happening in real life. Wow, this sounds exactly like Call of Duty. Just pick a Call of Duty any one will do. 4? The one without zombies? Yes, that.
We read all about the DoD relationship with Microsoft, and now the military metaverse has suddenly become a really big deal. They have been working with developer Red 6, to create a more realistic combat experience in conventional simulators, and using things like HoloLens or the provision of virtual reality rather than mixed reality to go a bit further down the rabbit hole. The Metaverse serves more as an immersive opportunity for demonstration and strategy rather than just watching videos.
My feeling is that multiple technologies need to work together to improve military performance. China and India are using the capabilities of the metaverse in similar simulation experiences. So it's a natural discussion that other militaries around various other nations around the world will want to be in a space where everybody is operating together, either collectively for good or preparing their next move.
I'm not going to sit on the fence. I'm going to tell you that I'm not a massive fan of Meta. Everybody knows I'm not a massive fan of Meta. However, my eyebrows lifted above their digital filter anchors when I read about Horizon Worlds, which is the company's variant of the metaverse. Turns out, those employees are not so enamoured by it either. This is very troubling, isn't it? Horizon Worlds, which is the main, Meta, er, verse, has got 300,000 monthly users, though not too shabby, it’s a C- (try Avakin Life). But a new report suggests that it's not taking off just the way that Meta wanted it to, and it's proving to be a bitter pill for its own employees, who are being chastised for not spending enough time there. Imagine going to work and getting torn a new one because you’re not spending enough time in a Metaverse that you're creating. Here’s the definition of dogfooding for anyone who wants to know: “Eating your own dog food or "dogfooding" is the practice of using one's own products or services. This can be a way for an organization to test its products in real-world usage using product management techniques. Hence dogfooding can act as quality control, and eventually a kind of testimonial advertising.” A memo happened on September 30, which required managers to make their teams use Horizon Worlds at least once a week, once a week. My take on this is one of pity more than scorn. At the end of the day, I think that your mum's gonna love Meta, but the regular dudes on the street who are serious about spending time inside the metaverse working, living, creating, UGC, all of that kind of good stuff? Meta presents nothing more than a fun distraction or a place where you meet your mum. This reminds me a little bit of when I was trying to do my god-daughter’s homework whilst watching Newgrounds or YouTube. Someone has, however, tried to spend 24 hours inside the metaverse meeting people, and her experience mostly revolved around people attending comedy clubs and meeting children who are breaking Meta’s Terms of Service to be inside Horizon Worlds in the first place. And that’s your testimonial. No dogfooding required.
That’s enough metaverse for this week - I'm gonna go back on the fence.