RIP Metaverse, we hardly knew ye

I am curious enough about cockatoos that I might click a link to read an article about people who own a cockatoos. I feel the same about British royalty, or “van life,” or VR.

Other than remembering a cool exhibit that stacked up various NASA and other historical rockets so you could see the scale, I haven’t really thought about Second Life in 10 years. About 15 years ago I was politely denied access to my university’s Second Life island because I wanted my students to be able to construct their own spaces, which  I imagined would be like collaborating on a class museum where each student was in charge of populating a room and laying it out to create an engaging experience.

Instead, I was invited to bring my students to a treehouse meeting room that someone else created, where I had the option to display a slide show that our avatars could look at from our virtual digital tree house. I was not given permission to construct permanent buildings, so I had no way to permanently store or curate any structures or artifacts or annotations my students might have created.

For some reason — gosh I wonder why — Second Life never really took off as an educational tool.

Even though I am curious about technology, I found nothing compelling in Mark Zuckerberg’s vision of the Metaverse, which presumed that the public would apparently strap on bulky VR goggles and pilot legless cartoon mannequins around various low-resolution virtual spaces.

Mark Zuckerberg spent years trying to make the Metaverse happen, but now it has been replaced by AI and is headed to the tech industry idea graveyard.


I do not believe that Mark Zuckerberg ever had any real interest in “the Metaverse,” because he never seemed to define it beyond a slightly tweaked Facebook with avatars and cumbersome hardware. It was the means to an increased share price, rather than any real vision for the future of human interaction. And Zuckerberg used his outsize wealth and power to get the whole of the tech industry and a good portion of the American business world into line behind this half-baked idea.

The fact that Mark Zuckerberg has clearly stepped away from the Metaverse is a damning indictment of everyone who followed him, and anyone who still considers him a visionary tech leader. It should also be the cause for some serious reflection among the venture-capital community, which recklessly followed Zuckerberg into blowing billions of dollars on a hype cycle founded on the flimsiest possible press-release language. In a just world, Mark Zuckerberg should be fired as CEO of Meta (in the real world, this is actually impossible). Ed Zitron, —Business Insider

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