One of my strongest memories of the beginning days of the internet was the experience of shopping. Or, maybe more accurately, trying to go shopping.
The main page was a cartoony image of a mall. You had to click on the door to go in the mall. Then the next page would load and you would see a hallway filled with storefronts that look like cartoon versions of the real store fronts. You click on one of the doors and the next page loads. There you would see a cartoony depiction of a store where you could click around some more and curse your dial-up modem for being so slow.
To be honest, this memory might be half imagined (though check this out) but the point is that there’s a common phenomena that when a concept goes from one medium to another, it first attempts to replicate its former shape, regardless of fit. Over time it evolves to better match the new medium. Some aspects will survive (such as the “shopping cart”) and some will not.
The name for this phenomena escapes me, but if I find it I will update this post.
Amongst the many criticisms of Meta’s metaverse was the lack of legs on its avatars. But maybe instead of filling out the bottom half of the avatars, they should get rid of the top half?
Why try so hard to make the metaverse be like a world we already have? There are almost infinite possibilities of how the metaverse could work.
Perhaps the successful future immersive world (or worlds) looks nothing like any world we have imagined yet. Maybe you are just a rectangle and you communicate through light. Or you are two things at the same time. Or three. Or your avatar is also part of someone/everyone else’s avatar. There’s just music and light and rectangles. Or perhaps long silences or periods where you see nothing at all.
Or perhaps it just gives you the thoughts that you should be having to have the healthiest and most fulfilling experience in this future metaverse.
Think of all the species that have existed and all the ways they have looked and communicated. What if in the metaverse we are all bats? Or, if the metaverse is not single-view. Why should I have to look at your avatar? You can look like you to you but when I look at you I want to see a rectangle or a bat. Maybe even your communication to me is cleaned up and served more palatable to me. For that matter, why not do this in social media in general? You still see whatever you wrote and I see what I wrote, but there’s a translator and we each see the translation of what the other wrote.
There’s that thing (#reality#term) where we want to see the things we’ve already seen. That’s why the metaverse is filled with things we’ve already seen. Even the fantastical stuff is really just exaggerations of things we already know. A bar, a park, a building. Just another version of them.
What does this non-IRLXD discussion have to do with IRLXD?
We can observe the problems and potential solutions of the metaverse and borrow and extrapolate to get more ideas. If we create an IRL world, it doesn’t have to be some strange parallel of the real world. While we do have the physical constraints of the real world, we don’t have to have the same form or conventions.
But focusing on form or conventions is starting with the mechanics and method. What we really need to do is to start with mission. Understand why you we doing what you we doing and what result we hope to accomplish. Form should still follow function.