“Begin at the beginning,” the King said, very gravely, “and go on till you come to the end: then stop.”
― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland
What history makes clear is that whether we like it or not, change is inevitable. Change happens all around us and is an evolutionary process. Societal and cultural level change can be swift and severe or like a gentle undertow pulling us towards something unseen.
A lot of the recent societal change originated from the adoption of the internet and the smartphone. Constant access to information and an expansion of social networking connecting distant communities. Ideas are no longer silo’d. Instead, they spread like wildfire and as they spread, they drive change in how we think and act.
As we transition to new digital forms of commerce we become increasingly comfortable with immersing more elements of our lives within what is referred to as the Metaverse.
“The snake which cannot cast its skin has to die. As well the minds which are prevented from changing their opinions; they cease to be mind.”
― Friedrich Nietzsche
The Technologies Driving Change
But what exactly are these current societal and cultural changes and what are their underlying causes?
Every day we grow more comfortable interacting and sharing information online and now we are starting to create new elements of digitally influenced culture. The combination of the internet, online gaming, digital social networking, and other digital technologies are combining to create this new dynamic for how we interact. To name a few:
- Smartphones – provide persistent internet access
- 5G – adds to our ability to interact with more devices seamlessly
- IoT – both wearable and non-wearable devices to interact with
- VR – providing access to immersive digital environments
- AR – a hybridization of physical and digital worlds
- AI – enhancing our ability to learn on the go
- Cloud Computing – scalable infrastructure at low cost for small scale developers
- Graphics & Computing Power – Semiconductor chip improvements that make continuous improvement possible
This convergence of technology is setting the foundation for a digitally enhanced future. They showcase where our society is headed.
The Consequences of Change
At a lower level glance we are beginning to see the technologies of the information age leading to a displacement of industrial age workers. Tasks that once required manual labor are being transitioned to machines and AI tools. As was the case in the industrial revolution, modern equivalents of unskilled laborers are being displaced.
Now we see that the manufacturing jobs and other technical artisan labor positions are being displaced for digital skilled labor. It’s given rise to political movements solely concerned with how we adapt to this changing reality.
With all that said, the picture is not as dire as it may seem for unskilled laborers. On the contrary, it’s never been a better time to create opportunity and wealth for oneself using the internet.
What we learned from the transition of middle age agrarian and feudal economies to industrial age economies has proven true for the transition to the information age. The lesson, summed up in The Sovereign Individual:
“Rising real incomes allowed governments to adopt a strategy that placed more resources under their control. Small sums taken in taxes from millions could produce more revenue than larger amounts paid by a few powerful people.”
– The Sovereign Individual
Like governments, individuals now have access to the global population on the internet. Billions of people for which they can develop products and services and charge small amounts to create personal wealth. The Long Tail phenomenon, best articulated by Chris Anderson, shows how the internet created an infinite number of unique communities with appetites for all types of products and services.
This long tail mechanism is an important precursor to the preferences being created within the Metaverse.
The opportunities we now have to build wealth online have given rise to the digital citizen. A new and digital productive class creating an infinite number of products and services along the long tail. Gumroad, Substack, Etsy, and Shopify are platforms that have arisen to service this new class of worker.
The Information Age is a Shift to Non-Standardized Paths
With all these new digital opportunities there is a dilemma forming.
Should a person follow the traditional career paths developed during the industrial age and matured in the beginning of the information age? Or, should they take the relatively new and uncharted path towards digital citizenship?
There are downsides to both standardized and unique information age paths.
These downsides relate to the cost benefit and risk reward aspects of establishing credentials. Think of a credential as a social proof of work. A method of building trust and communicating that trust between different communities.
On the internet, the non-standardized path is becoming increasingly feasible but the challenge is that there few standardized forms of credentialing at this time. And there are no established ways to build and verify trust.
What Comes Next? The Metaverse
So what does this all mean?
At a high-level glance, we are experiencing this convergence of key technologies which is creating what is known as the Metaverse.
A Metaverse is a shared digital reality space. In these spaces, individuals can interact with one another in digital constructs (environments)and represent themselves with digital avatars. Like the internet, the Metaverse will always stay active or live. It will never turn off, even when you are not interacting with it.
Although the full vision for the Metaverse remains hard to define, seemingly fantastical, and decades away, the pieces have started to feel very real. And as always with this sort of change, its arc is as long and unpredictable as its end state is lucrative.
Instead, it will slowly emerge over time as different products, services, and capabilities integrate and meld together.– Matthew Ball
The Metaverse is not going to jump into existence like the big bang. Over time it will grow and transmute from several foundational building blocks into a state of being. Like an evolutionary process.
This digital reality will fundamentally change how we people interact with one another. It will change how we conduct commerce, how we evaluate assets and will change what is culturally significant.
Despite this blooming change our educational systems are still structured to support standardized paths of the industrial age. These paths run contrary to the trends that are emerging from the internet. As standardized paths grow crowded and opportunities stagnate, general wellbeing for the displaced workers will fall. With these displacements come the potential for social unrest.
“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.”
“I don’t much care where –”
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go.”
― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland
The Purpose of This Website
Which brings us to this website and it’s purpose. What can a person do to prepare for these changes? How can you become educated on the technologies that are shaping society as we move towards the Metaverse? How can you best position yourself to come out ahead?
I grow increasingly more interested in this fundamental change to society. As a consequence, I am researching and preparing myself for the fundamental changes that are taking place. I’m seeking to answer these questions and more. As part of my learning process, I will document and share my insights here on this site.
It’s intended to be a useful resource to educate the reader on this change and showcase the skills and materials needed to be successful in the increasingly digital future.
One Theme, Two Paths, & Many Crossroads
The overarching website theme is the Metaverse.
I’ll approach the learning process by building two pathways. A human oriented path focused on the Metaverse’s impact on individuality, lifestyle and mindsets. I’ll also focus on a business oriented path addressing new opportunities, disruption of business models and what future business may look like.
Within the topic of the Metaverse, I have established a few subtopic areas that will become recurring themes of research along the way. Think of these as filters to provide structure and a frame of reference.
Filters will include:
- Trust and Credentialism in Digital Settings
- Self Expression
- User Generated Content (UGC) Platforms and Styles
Most importantly, I’m open to recommendations. Please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have a topic you think is worth exploring.
“The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.” ― Alan Wilson Watts
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