Remember how Department K created the ultimate weapon of Wolverine, Leech, Deadpool, Sabretooth, and Weapon H? They called the project Weapon X. Unwilling and willing mercenaries who did the bidding of the government in the name of “research”? Well that’s not what this article is about. At least, it’s not meant to be.
“Listen, is it obvious I’m wearing six sweaters?
In our increasingly interconnected world, the need for seamless integration and communication between different devices and software has become paramount. Have you heard of layer tech? Not to be confused with the layered technology process for software engineering. A few folks have been mooting the case for a one true operating system (and I don’t mean Linux, you crazy kids).
Layer technology offers a groundbreaking solution to this challenge. Acting as a versatile software platform or motherboard, layer technology enables various services and applications to plug into a centralised operating system, creating a harmonious ecosystem that stacks from hardware to software in varying degrees of capabilities and depth (because you can’t compare an AMD chip with Instagram). Imagine layer technology as a stack of interconnected puzzle pieces, where each layer represents a specific function or service. These layers interact with each other to create a seamless and efficient user experience. By adopting this modular approach, layer technology allows for greater flexibility, scalability, and simplified integration of new services and technologies. You can call it an operating system, a networking process, you can call it anything you want but currently I’m all clunked-out by the lack of things that should naturally fit together and don’t because of shareholders, ego, money and everything else. If I want to listen to a podcast, I need a service to listen to it on. Honey, if you do a search you are going to find a million different services and the top three will be google, apple and spotify. The choice is chosen for you.
Since Twitter bit the rope and stepped out of the door, ten thousand micro-blogging sites (because that’s what Twitter was originally) have popped up. Do we really need Threads, Mastodon, BlueSky etc? No, we just need a Twitter that we all use and can customise. Layer tech plays possibly the most pivotal role in sorting out this stupid metaverse mess once and for all by survival of the fittest, not, the richest (I hope those Silicon Valley asshats are reading this).
I am possibly the only person in the world who feels a bit for Elon and Linda because I suspect that’s exactly why Elon bought twitter in the first place and has subsequently rebranded it. But before I tell you why I think every single supposed technology correspondent on this planet is a complete and utter bellend, it’s important that you can grasp the concept of layer technology first. Let's take a look at Elon Musk's visionary (and only proposed or hinted at) X platform. Now if you’ve got a brain cell or two, as I have—you won’t know a great deal about his plans—but you don’t need to be Madame Curie to work it out. This platform will eventually consolidate various services like Twitter, Paypal, Tesla, Starlink etc into one centralised operating system, accessible on users' PCs or mobile devices. Users will be able to carry a unified and interconnected suite of services in their pockets. Such a platform would offer the convenience of managing multiple applications from a single interface, streamlining daily tasks, and enhancing productivity. Now let’s imagine that it is also open and transparent. Do not forget that Elon is already the king of the share: from blueprints about EVs to developer tools, competition is fairly sparse when the competition is open to all. Harry Stebbings said it *But Kelly, this already exists in Microsoft, Google and Apple*—yeah but these things simply don’t talk to each other, don’t you think they should? Should device technology be independent of operating systems? We are already living through a venture capitalist nightmare of hothousing startups. What is the incentive for developers to create new and enterprising ways of expanding software to fit mass or individual needs? It’s not Visual Studio guys, I’m sorry if that doesn’t fit with your new world order. Technology is not a religion.
Starting in the Middle
The modular nature of layer technology offers numerous advantages. First and foremost, it simplifies the integration of new services, making it easier for developers to introduce novel functionalities without having to overhaul the entire system. This facilitates rapid innovation and allows users to enjoy cutting-edge services seamlessly. It’s an Ikea of development if you like, where the learning curve is steep in volume over time and the payoff is crossing the chasm. It’s the dream that all these tech bros have: the ability to monopolise technology. However, layer tech is about the principle of mass-ownership for mass-adoption, not single use technology which adapts because that just snowballs into a hyper acquisition model.
Companies such as Twilio have rolled out the red carpet for developers, allowing their API to bridge events, tools or processes. In actively inviting this transparent development protocol, Twilio and many more are doing the work of OpenSource (which has been around for donkey’s years) and bringing this proliferation of open source software and tools towards interoperability.
The Key, The Secret
For layer technology to reach its full operating system potential, interoperability plays a vital role. Interoperability refers to the ability of different layers and services to communicate and exchange data effectively. Ensuring smooth interactions between diverse components is crucial for providing a seamless user experience. However, achieving interoperability can be challenging due to varying protocols, data formats, and security concerns. Developers must work together to create standardised approaches that promote seamless integration. I write about this quite a lot. One of the reasons I write about it so much is because organisations who say they are doing interoperability simply aren’t: they don’t have a grasp of it. They know what it means but they have no idea how to get to it. Creating interoperable assets means moving out of your industry sector and comfort zone. As an example, my company Nak3d works predominantly for the fashion industry, but our technology is built on games systems and protocols, therefore, our output is games and digital facing. Anything for immersive tech, immersive web and well anything games is what we do; but we are to all intents and purposes a PLM (product lifecycle management) service.
My advice? Be very, very wary of developers who stay in their lane—when it comes to interoperability, that just can’t happen.
Oh no, not the Metaverse
Yes, that secret sauce coined by Neal Stephenson whose acolytes jizz at the merest mention of the “M”-word are getting a glow up. My glorious metaverse has been a hot topic in recent years, promising a virtual shared space where users can interact with each other and digital content in a three-dimensional environment. Layered technology is poised to be the driving force behind the metaverse's evolution, as it enables the integration of diverse virtual experiences and services within a single ecosystem.
With this open and connective operating system as the backbone, the metaverse can become a vibrant digital universe filled with limitless possibilities. Developers can build and plug in new virtual environments, applications, and services, enriching the metaverse's ecosystem and creating a captivating user experience. Remember when Oliver Kern said the future of the metaverse is mobile? He’s still not wrong.
Again, at Nak3d we work with digital marketplaces within the metaverse, creating seamless buying and selling of virtual goods and services, all powered by different layers from games and g-commerce to immersive billboards and in-game advertising experiences, it’s very unique to today’s metaverse, however: this is no different to the guy with the sandwich board in Second Life, moreover, what we’re doing is a more traceable and connective version which feeds many more masters than Linden Labs.
And if social interactions excite you—maybe Breakroom or Yahaha or The Sandbox will be your collaboration tool. Why not? A place where social media platforms, communication tools, and virtual gatherings coexist within the metaverse will only create a cohesive and immersive social experience.
It is inevitable that the metaverse will become a hub for various entertainment options, from gaming and virtual concerts to interactive storytelling experiences, all interconnected through layer technology. It’s happening now, but mostly inside walled gardens where you can watch Netflix and have a watch party. But Rakuten Viki is much more open and democratised by virtue of its subbing community. A bit of homework might be to try both and which one is more social for immersive viewing? I’ll wait, heck, I’ll even bring the popcorn.
Challenge accepted or challenge Xcepted?
While layer technology holds tremendous promise, several challenges need to be addressed for its widespread adoption and success in building the metaverse. Standardising protocols and ensuring data security will be critical to fostering trust among users and developers. Our old friend cybersec is back in business and I am telling you that if you have a young future tax payer considering going into one of the new technology sectors or unsure as to which course they should study, trust me on this: any security subject pertaining to the future of any technology should be front and centre of their studies. Not only is security vital, most systems are quite obviously compromised by meatsacks, so it’s cyber, network or basic bitch computer security to be the underpants that we must wear over our trousers.
Did you know that the average cost of a single data breach in 2022 was $4.35 million? That’s why they get paid the big bucks. Tell your kids.
I read a lovely update on linkedin the other day. A friend, who is a legend in the games industry, is looking to change the way we access games in the future for people who have special requirements or needs from hardware to software. It’s a shocking indictment that in 2023 we’re still building these one-size-fits-all use cases and products when we could as easily find a technical motherboard, free of ownership, filled with security and available for us to access with our own customisation. Here’s some challenges we have to solve before we head towards a layered world:
The poverty gap - why do California-based hardware developers insist on pricing their products out of affordable integers? Expensive hardware and high-speed internet connections, make everything tech inaccessible to people with limited financial means.
The digital divide - some regions or communities might not have adequate infrastructure to support seamless access to the metaverse, creating a digital divide between those who can participate and those who can't.
The cultural divide - people from different cultural backgrounds are left behind from western or other societal developments this will most definitely lead to a lack of interest or engagement. If you don’t teach your kids about technology, how will they learn, create and develop?
As we look to the future, layer technology has the potential to revolutionise how we interact with technology, simplifying our digital lives and unleashing the full potential of us as the tool to overcome technology’s biggest challenges. My work feed is currently separated by those who embrace the power of AI to streamline their products and services, and those who are afraid of losing their jobs. The divides even stretch to those who have ios versus those who have Android. Same for Windows and whatever-Apple’s-current-operating-system-is-called: Sunset Beach?
The opportunities to do simple stuff is constantly hampered by tradition. These traditions are mega-tiresome: from using technology as the scapegoat for censorship to monopolies and corporate guardrails it’s all a bit meh isn’t it? Instead we could build great cities the size of a chip and enable rather than censure. Here’s how I’d do it if I could:
Compelling Use Cases - X is a great one, if we can see we can be. If we see openness and transparency, we build for that.
Solid Ethics - digital identity, digital ownership, and the impact on real-world social dynamics does not mean handing over a scan of your retina.
One Platform UX - properly balanced experiences that allow intuitive interfaces or have a steep learning curve—steep learning curves are good UX—could enhance user experiences and onboarding for the less tech savvy.
Hardware and software components - if you’re creating an open source layered universe, the bottom line is simple: don’t try and reinvent expensive wheels. Instead look at ways you can collaborate to make humanity (and your bank balance) a better place.
Listen, it’s not all Elon Musk and kicking Silicon Valley, no way! There are a great many things wrong with X that if we give it some time we’ll be able to iron out the creases. But equally doing VR on a closed platform isn’t going to change our world either unless we pull down a few walls. Creating a new era in technology is always subject to Luddism; people are afraid of change. But plugging in familiar technologies or developing other ways to connect people and things is the obvious basis for IoT and a million other things. Layer technologies, acting as an operating system for everything, have a great deal of promise if we bring good ideas and stop trying to monopolise. There are enough people needing technology who do not have access to technology and enough thinkers and innovators to spread around the planet. What we need right now is something that brings us together in a positive way, bringing us closer to a world where the metaverse becomes an integral part of our daily lives.