Much ink has been spent in this last year on the Metaverse along with tons of podcasts, hundreds of new startups and countless posts in many forms in all mainstream media.
Everybody wants to take a piece of the pie, for money and fame. It has always been about positioning ourselves on the board, right? (a rhetorical question).
But the truth is that nobody has any idea about what the f*ck is going on! (a statement)
And the reason for this unstable situation is that everybody is focusing on the “how” and the “what” while nobody cares about the “why”.
Why do we need the Metaverse?
The answer to this, will give you the answer to everything else. Because everything that was ever invented in the world had a reason, a problem to solve. So, what is the problem that the Metaverse solves?
I’m sure that just by reading the above questions you have already started answering. And most of your answers resonate with what you do. So, I’m not going to challenge you here. What I want to do, and the reason for writing this blog (the same reason I built NTZNS) is to take some distance and give you some elements that design a straight line to where we are going, as humans, and why. To design a straight line you need two points. I’ll give you three points in the form of milestones\signals that have been happening in the last 20 years indicating (or, rather, forcing us) to create the Metaverse under one solid definition. The rest are just side effects, or a mist created by opportunists, and media who need content to stay relevant.
So let’s see the three signals, the problems, that force us to the Metaverse direction. If we think that way then we can understand why we need the Metaverse and most of all why the Metaverse is not about Marketing and how much money we can make operating into it. As I said, all these are side effects.
Environmental and social sustainability
Everybody knows about sustainability. What a buzzword in the last 15 years. All industries, especially the fashion industry, are running around trying to find the most innovative and creative ways to convince us their brand and their products are sustainable.
If they put in half of their effort to become sustainable instead of the effort they put into finding ways to avoid becoming sustainable then we would get a better industry.
The fact is you can’t have sustainability changing materials or creating “better” conditions in factories. Because you can’t afford it. To be 60% sustainable, a fashion brand needs to increase its cost to 1000% which means that in order to survive it needs to pass this cost (or its biggest part) to its audience and that means that if you want sustainability you have to pay for it. But I have yet to meet a customer wanting to pay more for a product. It’s not about research, it’s about having a look at fast fashion stores. No matter if you know that people work for peanuts and that nature is destroyed by bringing to life a t-shirt you pay 19 euro for, you still buy it by balancing your consciousness with signing a petition of a social media post. And the brands don’t want to do it differently.
Nevertheless, people who care about true innovation, scientists, artists and those who love to create things, discover digital processes that offer 97% sustainability, dramatically reducing the cost of supply chain, eliminating overproduction, and transforming the whole process into a digital one. Because when they see a problem, they apply a solution. And for over 20 years now, those people have been working in this direction without being noticed so much by mainstream media because those news weren’t sustainable for them, as they were for workers, designers and the environment.
Today we build our personal brands in social media and digital spaces so the question is: why do we bother wearing physical clothes on our digital content? Digital clothes cost as little as $0,5 and with current technology we can even go to a Zoom meeting without the need to show a physical dress. Why do we need to design samples and spend money on supply chains to send our sample collections to every showroom or participate in every trade fair around the world? We can design a 3D sample, upload it to a virtual space, invite all the people we want them to see it and answer their questions without spending time traveling, money and fuel on airplanes, hotels, etc.
Moreover, by having your clothes in 3D in a VR space you can communicate directly to our customers, learn everything about what they love to buy, why they chose you, and more about them that allow you to have a clear visual of the core essence of your impact in a community.
In the physical fashion process, to sell something, you need to produce it first. In the digital fashion process producing physical garments is on demand and after the sale is completed.
If you start thinking broader, then you will see that fully embracing the digital fashion process will not only solve the sustainability issue but it will also destroy the whole industrial economy, which is based on corporations, replacing the connection economy which is based on creators and networks (a story for another blog).
To build a sustainable environment and give humans an opportunity to evolve we need to turn digital.
The whole planet went down in a recession 15 years ago and that made us all wonder if it was a signal of change. That was a problem. A huge one. It was also the first time we understood that what we are building and what we considered as normal is not.
What was the solution the industrialists came up with? To save the system we built for years (bank systems) in order to continue the party. Anything to save what we do but nothing to change or build alternatives.
Fortunately, not that distant from the official decision centers, Satoshi Nakamoto designed the first independent currency and gave us the opportunity to build an alternative process. Take a moment and think of it. For the first time we have an independent coin. Clear from taxation, owned by all of us, and ready to serve our needs and move us forward to discover new horizons.
Bitcoin appeared as a real solution not to save a system but to take our society a step forward. And what did we do? We are using it as another way to make money like we use social media to share cute pets and babies to get more followers.
Cryptocurrency is the base of a sustainable financial future. The moment we built it, was the moment we understood that the banking system is not the only option. We can do without it too.
At the sound of the word lockdown we started to think of the medieval era, when diseases were the norm and health was an exception. Our minds went back to the black death, the plague and conspiracy theories, and suddenly we became experts on everything. But at the same time we became isolated and felt lonely.
Life is fragile. We didn’t think that all of those things could happen in the beginning of the 21st century.
“There was once a dream that was Rome. You could only whisper it. Anything more than a whisper and it would vanish.”, to quote Marcus Aurelius words.
Some of us thought no problem would arise, as we are in the 21st century. “I’m ok with staying in my room as long as I have my laptop and a camera. I can meet and speak to everyone”. And indeed, that was the miracle of the internet revolution but we discovered that the current digital space is not enough. Human touch, in many forms, is missing no matter what.
That was the time we pulled up the old blueprints of the Metaverse (because yes the idea of the Metaverse is new only to the mass) and we started thinking that we need something more immersive.
Those three big problems that changed the way of thinking, guided us to make the Metaverse a priority. In that way, the Metaverse is not just another tool or a marketing trick to continue to sell and keep the party going. The party is going to change premises and hands to become better and inclusive.
“To enable the impossible you should destroy the perfect”, to quote Seth Godin.
And as the record industry was destroyed by peer-to-peer communication the moment that Gretta clicked the button to upload the whole album, available for one dollar to everyone (watch the film Begin Again), the same should be done in the fashion industry too. See didn’t ask permission to record this album, she was only talented, without anything to lose and a little bit inspired.
That reminds us of the influencers. Not those who are sold to the brands: the right ones. Those who do the things in different ways, inspiring us to read that book, play this guitar, design this garment, dress this person and wear those heels.
Millions of creators sell amazing masterpieces to games and meta-spaces without the need of intermediaries, committees or any permission. They are just on their computer, on the floor, in the lotus position, drinking tea or coffee, listening to music and thinking that “the world is beautiful”.
The Metaverse is inevitable because it is the only way to evolve humanity. We are going to build it and guess what: we won’t ask for permission. We don’t want to change your world. We are going to build a thousand different realities, available for everyone. Who knows, maybe for less than a dollar, maybe even for free.