Facebook is now Meta, and the Metaverse has everyone confused - The UpStream

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Facebook is now Meta, and the Metaverse has everyone confused

posted Sunday Oct 31, 2021 by Scott Ertz

Facebook is now Meta, and the Metaverse has everyone confused

Over the past few years, a term has become popular among software companies: metaverse. This term is a combination of the word meta, meaning beyond, and the abbreviation verse, short for universe. The idea is that it is a virtual space where people can interact with one another. The term does not require virtual reality, but in modern times it almost always does. Earlier this year, Epic Games discussed their plans, but the company at the forefront of the content is Facebook. This week, the company showed its dedication by changing its name to Meta, as well as announcing a huge collection of initiatives towards this end.

Facebook is Now Meta

The company formerly known as Facebook has officially changed its name to Meta. Along with the name change came a change to the company's iconic thumbs up sign in front of the California headquarters, now featuring the gradient infinity M logo instead.

It is important to note that only the company name has changed, not the product. The change has been combining for a while, because there is always confusion between the company Facebook and the product Facebook. With the company being named Meta and the product remaining Facebook, the company hopes to alleviate that confusion.

But, the name change has also created its own confusion, in that people do not know what has changed. Some commentators, even those who tend to have a good grasp on reality, have talked about the product changing names, which is not what is happening. This new confusion, however, is likely to resolve itself in relatively short order.

Meta's Metaverse

The product offering that is the basis for the new name, however, is the Metaverse itself. This project has been in the works for a few years, and CEO Mark Zuckerburg has discussed it on several occasions. We have even seen some events take place in part within this virtual environment. Zuck showed off the environment in more detail during the annual Connect (previously Oculus Connect and Facebook Connect) presentation, and it did not connect with the public in the way he had hoped.

The general consensus seems to be that, from a technological perspective it's an interesting idea, but from a societal perspective, it is the next step towards WALL-E or The Matrix. The overall concept of sitting alone in a room, wearing a headset, and pretending to interact with people who are also alone wearing a headset is a bit dystopian. It could easily have been the theme of a 60s sci-fi film, but it is becoming a reality.

To emphasize this point, Zuckerburg was even less human-like in his presentation. Somehow, his virtual avatar seemed more lifelike, and the environment in the metaverse seemed less artificial than the room in which he delivered his monologue. In fact, it seemed as if they went out of their way to make the set look lived in (we all saw the BBQ sauce in the virtual living room where a family photo should have been).

One of the more vocal people with concerns about the company's ability to execute is John Carmack. He is co-founder of id Software and CTO of Meta VR brand Oculus (which we'll address in a moment). During his Connect presentation, he spoke conservatively about his feelings,

I really do care about {the metaverse}, and I buy into the vision. I have been pretty actively arguing against every single metaverse effort that we have tried to spin up internally in the company from even pre-acquisition times. I have pretty good reasons to believe that setting out to build the metaverse is not actually the best way to wind up with the metaverse.

The most obvious path to the metaverse is that you have one single universal app, something like Roblox. I doubt a single application will get to that level of taking over everything.

The argument is that you should be focused on highly engageable products that have the ability to interconnect, versus building what currently amounts to a VR version of the ill-fated PlayStation Home.


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