Jennifer Bonine is a speaker that I've been able to hear in conference talks as long as I've been giving them (2010). IT's been fun to hear her talk about a variety of projects she's been part of over the past decade-plus and it's been intriguing to hear her talk about E-Sports teams, crypto kitties, and other areas that are being collectively wrapped up in the phrase "The Metaverse", AKA Web 3.0. The idea here is the notion that we are "creating digital replication of experiences in created worlds outside of our physical world".
OK, that sounds wild. What specifically does that mean?
The idea of Web 3.0 is that we do more than read and write stuff on the web. Going forward (and now) we can effectively "own" a part of the Web 3.0 with things like crypto kitties, NFTs, and other things. We are also creating digital economies and this is even going into the idea of countries changing their economies over to working with crypto-currencies (I'm not going to even pretend I understand the logic or ramifications behind that but it's intriguing).
The idea of the Metaverse is that we all have the ability to literally become the metaverse, not just participate in it. In many ways, our apps where we are interacting (games, shopping, etc.) allow us to be able to create our own experiences. There are for example contact lenses that allow the user to be able to bring up a screen to view information entirely shielded from others to see or interact with it.
Granted, there is a lot of this that is foggy in my own head but I am sure that I am interacting with this stuff day in and day out. However, I can already understand that a lot of what I used to do in traditional media spaces (television, movies, etc.) has given way to online interactions. I was joking at dinner last night that, when it comes to time spent, YouTube and Podcasts are probably my biggest time commitments for digital interactions (I'm still a bit of a snob music-wise in the fact that I really like physical media but I have bought my share of digital-only music; I'm still a full album purchaser, btw, and I doubt that will ever change ;) ).
One thing that fascinates me is the growth of gameplay channels. I find it wild that there is a dedicated audience for watching other people play video games and yet, at a certain level, I can understand it. If you are not particularly adept at gameplay mechanics (raises hand) I can totally understand the allure of watching a gamer who is good at it do a run-through of a favorite game, so that you can watch the playthrough and experience the game without the anxiety of dying over and over or getting frustrated when you hit a wall.
One area that I think is both interesting and alarming is the idea that there are a variety of algorithms that are at play here and my question is "who is watching the watchers?" There's a documentary called "Coded Bias" that I have not seen but I am now interested in seeing (this also ties into Carina Zona's talks about "The Consequences of an Insightful Algorithm" or at least I think that's the title (I reference it a lot, you'd think I'd have it memorized by now ;) ). The point is, that we have to be aware of the fact that unconscious biases exist and can if we are not careful, get tied into these developing systems and perform/interact in ways that are not intended (or in some cases, entirely intended).
A lot of the stuff that developed in Web 2.0 has literally created a psychological addiction to technology. There's a literal sense of needing to go to our apps and interact with them. Many companies rely on this interaction but there are also companies that are working on tools to allow people to better manage and perhaps wean off of an overabundance of need for social networking connections. If this becomes a reality and a real emphasis on helping people get over things like anxiety and depression, I'm excited about it.
The relationship of humans and technology is evolving and coming closer and closer all the time. While I'm glad we're not quite to the point of cybernetic implants being all the rage (really, Ghost in the Shell can wait a while longer, as far as I'm concerned) I do find it interesting to see where these devices are heading and how we are interacting with them.