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M6: The Unmedium
first in a series on the human interverse
What's rule #1? There's only one Metaverse. If so, it will encompass all our dreams and nightmares at some point. If so, it will be the internet of dreams as much as the internet of avatars and the internet of money and the internet of websites.
And the final rule #7: the Metaverse is the internet. So let's be clear: we are talking about the future of the web. The strange thing is that the speculative internet has always been along the lines of 'augmenting the human intellect,' i.e., having all the knowledge in the world at your fingertips or connecting as many pieces of information as possible. The Memex or Project Xanadu for example. Immersion and Presence don't strike me as essentially webby experiences. Merging these visions, one centered around immersion and the other centered around interconnection, will take a quite a bit of work.
That's why I think the interverse is a better label than the metaverse, for it explicitly signals both immersion and interconnection
But the two I's along with three more (Intelligence, Interactivity & Identity) will come together in the next decade as all of these technologies mature and inform each other. While I am not a techno-theologist, someone who believes that technologies are working towards some final purpose that's invisible to us today, it sure looks like there's inexorable pressure for the web to keep growing to encompass new experiences and new beings. Making humans transparent to each other feels like an important milestone in that upward and outward growth of the web.
I'll end this essay with a feature I am hoping will make its way into most of these essays: a speculative artifact that doesn't exist right now, but could easily be made to exist if we put our collective minds to it.
The auto industry revels in concept cars - these aren't ever meant for mass production, but they showcase what the industry can do at the limits of possibility: say, an electric car that also doubles as a boat, or one so light that it can glide off of hills.
The interverse needs its analog of concept cars: ideas that are at the edge of what's possible, but can be made to happen if we put our minds together. I call them concept worlds. Here's one:
A service that aggregates dreams from all across the world: let's say we divide the earth into squares a mile across and appoint an official dream recorder in each square mile (that will be ~ 57 million people, so about 1% of the human population; maybe we need a sparser concept). The dream recorder is like a community health worker, except that s/he goes door to door collecting dreams. Every day s/he collects 100 dreams and tells us what the people in their neighborhood are experiencing while asleep.
What will these dreams tell us in aggregate? Will there be a correlation between increased nightmares and aggression or dysfunction in the public sphere? Will we see trending dreams?
Not gonna lie: a dreamscape would be awesome. We could build an internet of dreams pretty quickly - just connect two dreams if they have the same character (let's say both you and I dreamt of Grogu or Krishna or whoever last night) and over time, we are able to form a densely connected web of dreams.
Imagine surfing that web.... With personalized dreams™ to pay for the ride.