Is ‘metaverse’ a dead buzzword? Not according to new Goose NFT owner

Our “shared digital spaces” will become more compelling, 6529 says, but “every one of those digital spaces is owned by a corporation right now”


Lightspring/Shutterstock modified by Blockworks


The “metaverse.” 

A long list of Google search results attempt to describe the word with clever metaphors and anecdotes. But an anonymous CryptoPunk owner who goes by the profile pic’s collection number — 6529 — defines it very simply.

“It’s the internet,” he says, “with better visualization and persistent visual objects.”

With the definition out of the way, the existential question remains: Does this metaverse stuff even matter any more?

The anonymous guest of Blockworks’ Empire podcast (Spotify/Apple) recently bought Dmitri Cherniak’s “The Goose” Ringers NFT for $6 million at a Sotheby’s auction, in the depths of the bear market. 

It’s a pretty contrarian move in current conditions, but 6529 is thinking long term. 

While the buzz around the concept of a metaverse has died down, it’s not going away any time soon either, according to the new Goose owner. In fact, it’s deeply important to the future of how humans interact online.

And despite his succinct definition, it’s complicated.

The internet and its applications are constantly evolving, moving from a phase dominated by corporations to a system often referred to as Web3, where decentralized, permissionless protocols act as the infrastructure for decentralized applications.

Our “shared digital spaces” will become more compelling, 6529 says, “but the most important thing is every one of those digital spaces is owned by a corporation right now.”

Web1 protocols, like email, are public domain services, 6529 explains. So if a user did not like Gmail, they could instead choose from another service provider, like Outlook or Yahoo, or even spin up their own server, 6529 says.

“The fact that the protocol and the applications are split creates a huge difference in both commercial and sociopolitical behavior,” he says.

Leave it to the CEOs?

On the other hand, a Web2 service like Twitter has picked up such a strong network effect, he says, that it is effectively the sole provider of short public broadcast messaging on the internet.

“What’s the market share of the number two Twitter? Very low. What about the number three? Non-existent.”

6529 presents Twitter account banning controversy as an example of the problem. “We have had a two-year, national-level battle about who is allowed to use Twitter,” he says, “which is, effectively, a battle of who can broadcast short messages to large groups of people.”

“I can think of different ways you can govern whether you think Trump deserves this Twitter account or you think Trump is a huge threat to democracy and shouldn’t have an account.”

“The answer to that question, for sure, should not change based on if Jack Dorsey is the CEO of Twitter or Elon Musk.”

“Of all the governance mechanisms for the internet, I assure you, this is not the right one.” 

6529 points out that no such societal battle centered on whether Trump should have an email account. 

While email, like Twitter, is a highly effective communication tool, such a discussion never took place, 6529 says, because there is no singular company in control of email services.

Because Web2 applications inevitably consolidate and form monopolies, 6529 says, the CEO of a private technology company can effectively be appointed as the public’s speech regulator.

“Not legally,” he says, but “effectively, the speech regulator.”

“A true exit” from centralization

6529 explains that only Web1’s public domain protocols currently provide a “true exit” from centralized controls. Network effects must accrue to a protocol, he says, not to a particular privately owned service.

“If I said, ‘Hey, I’ve thought of a better way to organize society. I’m gonna own everything and you guys can just use it in terms that I set.’”

“It’s going to be between illegal and impractical for you to own anything.”

“I would correctly be thrown out of any civilized debate in a constitutional democracy.”

“And yet,” he says, “we do not seem to be able to make this leap into the digital space.”

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