The Emergence Of The Metaverse And The Evolution Of The Web: Concerns And Opportunities
The world has been barraged with many talks of the future of technology. It seems everyone has a theory on what they believe the future will be.
Take something like Web 3.0 or the Metaverse, both have been widely discussed in the media but what do they really mean for the world? and more importantly, how is it that these two different theories are often thrown into one big pot labeled as “the future?”
The confusion lies with two definitions that are both revolving around a digitally connected world, which seem at first glance to be nearly identical but few understand their differences. This article will help to clear the air and make an attempt at illustrating the contrast between them because it’s important that these two concepts not be confused with each other or become a source of division around principles of how we want to continue building the internet.
The internet arrived decades ago, occurring just moments after the dot-com bubble burst, taking with it all of the dot com companies that were launched by venture capital and every startup promised to be the next Facebook. However, the concerns regarding privacy and security are still an immense topic for debates in relation to usability of the internet.
Whilst, the arrival of new technologies including the Metaverse and Web 3.0, continues to bring mixed ideas and raises questions in an array of scenarios. After waiting decades in order to see the increased privacy concerns regarding the internet come true we now see a new trend. The arrival of the first Augmented reality platforms, browsers and dApps are bringing a new range of topics that still need to be put on the table.
Many people are unaware of how much information they are sharing online, but this is just the tip of the iceberg. According to a recent report that was released by an online security company, in 2017 alone there were more than 1,500 data breaches reported publicly and as if that wasn’t alarming enough, through September of this year (2018) there have been nearly 2000 breaches reported so far. (Source: govtech.com)
To address similar concerns as those that plague users and companies alike, Europe has adopted the GDPR, or the General Data Protection Regulation. This set of laws was passed in 2016 and came into effect in 2018, that protects every EU citizen from privacy and data issues that businesses face daily.
In recent years, upon a string of scandals including that of Cambridge Analytica’s data breach using the personal information of millions to influence elections to influence and manipulate voters. There was also cyberbullying, doxing (the act of sharing personal information), and some of the major social networks equally suffered data breaches. A recent example is Facebook’s massive data breach which exposed personal data of 533 million users, including their full names, phone numbers, locations, birth dates, and bios.
Moreover, in 2020, France’s Data Protection Authority “CNIL” recently fined two tech giants, Google and Amazon, for invading their users’ privacy. Both companies received fines amounting to 121 million dollars (USD) and 35 million euros (EURO) for tracking their users without consent.
Cookies can be helpful, these small text files collect your browsing information and allow websites to remember your login, preferences, language settings and other details. However, there can be a downside for users concerned about their privacy when cookies do more than store useful data.
How can you protect yourself?
Be aware of the cookies you allow to follow you as you navigate around the internet. Only accept those that align with your values, even if it makes things a little more challenging.
So many apps today require that you give them your location details, user names, phone numbers, or even email addresses. While some don’t seem to be asking for anything too sensitive at first glance, it can often be quite intrusive when they want access to information they shouldn’t need or should only ask for after you’ve had a chance to try their app out and decide whether it was worth that privileged access.
Permissions like access to the microphone/recorder on your phone, to the camera built into the phone itself, contacts lists on your phone or message history could all cause trouble if shared with people who mean you harm. And this concern is so critical when tech giants have been continuously accused of cross-pollinating users’ private data without their knowledge.
How can you protect yourself?
Ensure that you’re only downloading applications that need the minimum amount of information for appropriate content on your project and follow the advice of security experts and review your phone’s permissions.
Tools that help you secure your devices
- Anti-tracking tools that helps you browse the internet anonymously and protects your sensitive data from internet spies.
- A VPN to hide your IP address and prevent websites or hackers from tracking your online activity.
- Anti-spyware tools to stop hackers from stealing your most sensitive data like your passwords and credit card details.
The Evolution of the World Wide Web
The original Internet was based on Web 1.0, which is also known as the Classic Web. The term was made up in the 1990s and this web era lasted until the early 2000s. During the Classic Web phase, the user was limited to reading information given by the content creators. Basically, a “read-only” website wherein the user is not given an option to communicate with the creators. Best examples of Web 1.0 are personal websites and static websites.
With Web 2.0, also referred to as the Social Web, users were already able to interact with websites through the use of social media, forms, and databases. As a result, we were able to witness the rise of social media alongside e-commerce. The birth of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc. This web era focused on enabling users to read as well as create and deliver content. So, the Web 2.0 has successfully introduced read/write functionalities on the internet, as well as establishing the foundation of platform economy.
The Metaverse and Web 3.0
The Metaverse is a computer domain in virtual reality where you may interact and communicate with three-dimensional objects and people. Through the use of virtual reality (VR) glasses or headsets, users will be able to interact with other virtual items and users in the Metaverse. All these can be done through gaming, education, entertainment- practically all activities you do in the real world.
It also interprets to a digital providence, where users can buy, sell, as well as create goods. As of today, most platforms have avatars, virtual personalities, and inventories, but are limited to just one platform. Metaverse, on the other hand, might allow you to produce a character that you can take everywhere. In the more idealistic visions of the Metaverse, it’s practical, allowing you to take virtual items like clothes or cars from one platform to another. In the real world, you can buy a shirt from a boutique and then wear it to the mall.
The Web 3.0, also known as Semantic Web, centers on the idea that there was already a major shift in how we use the internet, moving us from Web 1.0 (past internet) to Web 2.0 (present internet), so it helps to define those generations. This web era represents a remarkable improvement in the management of digital resources and online identities. Users may own, produce, and monetise their content. As a result, Web 3.0 is a vision for the internet’s future generation, in which users are in charge of their inventions.
The goal of Web 3.0 was to create a decentralised web-based only on cryptocurrency and blockchain. Users can take part in online facilities using blockchain, which is governed by a decentralised network of computers. It focuses largely on directing competition from the renowned platform players.
In addition, Web 3.0 can make use of general blockchain functionality to provide open, permission-free access to anybody with an internet connection. It also aims to improve advertising by dominating smarter Artificial Intelligence (AI) systems and by targeting specific audiences based on consumer information. Furthermore, it would also aim at introducing new forms of participation among web users.
The Opportunities the Web has created
In spite of the doubts, fears and reticent headlines, our global interconnectedness has made it easier than ever to interchange information both within and between human communities.
In an increasingly borderless world, many people are now able to access health-related information previously unavailable to them. No longer hampered by geographic restrictions, more people can take advantage of opportunities available in their local community and across the globe.
The technology has changed how we reach out to one another, gain access to education and provide economic opportunities.
Opportunities of The Metaverse
The Metaverse represents a new level of interaction and experience in terms of the Internet. This is created by fully immersive, interactive and virtual experiences, the kind which improve the world around us through meaningful and genuine connections with other people that we share what we’d consider to be our online second lives with.
When you compare it to Facebook or Instagram, all that exists are little bubbles of what your life might look like but this is more than a photo-sharing platform, more like an online identity in an immersive VR space.
A recent poll in the US found that 27% of employees are excited about adding AR/VR to the workplace; 29% said that they are not looking forward to it at all. Meanwhile, 31% are neutral.
Here are some of the amazing opportunities the Metaverse is offering us:
- Consumerism: the metaverse is coming to have its own retail spaces, arcades, and shopping malls where people shop to dress their 3D avatars. As we spend more time in the metaverse, our attire may be just as important as it is in the real world. In this scenario, one could go shopping with a stylist or personal shopper to help guide you through the selections of clothes and accessories best-suited for your particular avatar.
- Travel and tourism: Tour guides will be of a massive importance when it comes to guiding and assisting visitors in VR. There are VR parks popping up all over the place, and they will all need tour guides to negotiate their guests through the experience. More conventional forms of theme parks emerge annually, with film experiences in particular making a huge impact at E3.
- Remote work: This not only has major implications for professional use cases but also educational and aesthetic purposes. The metaverse could have entire office campuses, cityscapes where people can congregate or even complete individualised tasks. The VR environment would allow for things like 3D simulation, infinite whiteboarding, teleportation to your desired destinations as you need them, 3D data modelling of anything you might want to learn more about on the spot (with telepresence and all), etc.
- Education: Many aspiring students don’t have the funding to pursue higher education. Many students are also finding it difficult to even find local schools or nearby classes when earning their degrees through distance learning programs such as online courses. One suggested intervention for solving both of these common problems is by making it easy for people to attend schools that fit their schedule and situations at a lower price point than what traditional brick-and-mortar campuses require.
The concluding take from the Metaverse and Web 3.0 debate is how they are more related and dependent on each other and that both support one another perfectly. The Metaverse is similar to everyday life in the physical world, but it isn’t bound by all of the same rules as our reality. For example, if we were to remove gravity in the real world, things would fall to the ground; however, in the digital world this doesn’t have to be a concern since gravity doesn’t exist.
Technology has advanced a lot in the past years. With the advance of technology more opportunities have opened up. We can now do things we have never done before. We can entertain ourselves in ways we have never entertained ourselves before. We can learn things we have never learned before. So even though there is a lot of fear surrounding technology we have to remember what it has done for us. We have to remember that it has allowed us to do things we could only dream of doing before.