As soon as I saw the headline, I cringed. “Facebook changes its name to Meta.”
The new name is a not-so-subtle reference to the Metaverse. Facebook plans to invest $10 billion to build an immersive VR platform (demo here). They envision a future where we all hang out virtually in 3D Facebook.
It looks pretty lame. And I’m not convinced that virtual reality is the next big thing.
In 2021, Statista says there will be an estimated 6.1 million VR headsets sold. That’s not a lot.
And what about the health risks? We don’t know what the long-term effects of having a screen 2 inches from your face, for hours a day, could be.
I do believe that virtual worlds will be absolutely enormous in the future. I just don’t know that VR is the right technology for it. Everyone I know with a VR headset has used it for a few days and not picked it up since. I suspect traditional video games will continue to be far larger than VR for at least the next 10 years.
The Future Is Decentralized
In 10 years, I think it’s very likely that the most popular social media platforms will be decentralized. Increasingly this concept is being referred to as Web 3. Social media will run on open source protocols that anyone can copy, modify, and launch as their own. They will natively support cryptocurrencies.
Why? One big factor is rising censorship on centralized platforms. For example, last year you could get banned from Youtube, Twitter, or Facebook for suggesting that SARS-CoV-2 may have escaped from a lab. Today it’s widely acknowledged as a real possibility, so they won’t ban you for saying that any more. But they will ban you for saying other things that go against official narratives.
This censorship problem will get worse before it gets better. Centralized social platforms are too corruptible. In some ways, it’s just too much power.
Web3 projects are attracting some of the best engineers in the world. For a fantastic overview of these concepts, I strongly recommend listening to Tim Ferris’ most recent podcast, featuring Naval Ravikant and Chris Dixon. Naval and Chris do a great job breaking down why it’s so important that the next generation of social platforms be decentralized.