Is An Open Source Metaverse The Best Solution?

Is An Open Source Metaverse The Best Solution?

An Open (Source) Call To Meta And Mark Zuckerberg

Seriously. Are the tools even in place to start an open source metaverse? The people at Adpost believe this is not only possible, but the best possible solution. 

There are many people still around who remember the billion dollar debacle that resulted from the failed launch of the US healthcare system website. The initial website was slated to cost about 840 million US dollars, though total costs were estimated at just over one billion dollars. Before everything was said and done, the price tag jumped to well over two billion US dollars for a failed website launch. 

Mark Zuckerberg apparently does not like being outdone. It seems he is intent on challenging this rather dubious record with the launch of the much-touted Metaverse. 

The program was officially proposed in October of 2021, with Mark Zuckerberg highlighting just some of the planned features. However, recent events have led some individuals to believe that perhaps the announcement may have been slightly premature. 

What Went Wrong At Meta

The name “Meta” is a prefix meaning a more organized and highly specialized form. To date it is estimated that Meta has spent somewhere around ten billion US dollars to transform itself. It seems the vision of Mark was to turn Meta into what can only be seen as the largest undertaking to date for the establishment of a virtual realm. 

It also appears that Mark Zuckerberg had every intention of being the Master of the Metaverse. It should be noted though, that Mark Zuckerberg would be unlikely to dream of becoming a virtual Emperor Palpatine, despite rumors to the contrary. 

This is important as Zuckerberg launched the premier of Horizon Worlds on the sixteenth of August. The launch was accompanied by a made-for-memes selfie. That publicity picture has been widely criticized for looking to be scarcely anything more than clip-art gone wrong. 

Suffice it to say, the “launch” has been less than stellar, despite the apparent reach for the stars, virtually speaking of course. It would appear that, tragically perhaps, the world is not quite as enlightened as Mark Zuckerberg. 

While the Meta graphics may be slightly better than “Second Life” and the server capacity is sufficient to enjoy much lower ping rates at Meta, the world is apparently just not ready to enter Zuck’s race to control cyberspace. 

More disturbing perhaps, is that this skepticism likely extends to some key players at the company formerly known as Facebook.

What Do The Leadership Team Say About Meta?

Sir Nick Clegg, the President of Global Affairs for Meta (and not to be confused with Sir Nicholas de Mimsy-Porpington, known after his death as Nearly Headless Sir Nick) recently wrote an article which he then published on Medium

In that article Sir Nick painted an entirely different picture, indicating that the intention behind Meta is not to take over the Metaverse. In his rather verbose article, Sir Nick Clegg pointed out that it was not even possible for Meta to be the primary developer or provider of the Metaverse. (Au contraire mon chéri)

For a high-ranking company official to speak this way in such a public forum signals something more than just internal bickering. It is true that Meta earned more than one hundred billion dollars in the last fiscal year. Still, a ten billion dollar expenditure is not something corporate executives would normally criticize in public. 

The article uses nearly eight thousand words to describe the impossibility of ruling the Metaverse. Further discussion looks at the potential way that Meta can recoup their losses, or at least how they hope to gain from what they have already invested. 

The Humble Origins Of The Metaverse

The article begins on something of an optimistic note. It describes how Meta, through the “vision” of Mark Zuckerberg hopes to introduce “a concept that has been exciting the bright minds of Silicon Valley for years”. 

For better or for worse, the concept is not that new, though it still does have potential for being expanded, and dare it be said, even perfected? Two decades in Technological Time is a virtual eternity. 

The concept of a virtual world with three dimensional avatars has been around in functional if not fancy forms for at least that long. Second Life is perhaps the longest-lived example of this online social realm, though even they had predecessors. 

There was a day and age when the same resources Microsoft used for the OpenGL “3D Maze” screensaver were used to create virtual worlds where people would gather. Most of these social sites had avatars that were only two-dimensional back then. Add in the restrictive connection speeds at that time and it is easy to see why so many early efforts failed. 

Despite their failure, it can honestly be said that they paved the way for the Metaverse long before the turn of the century. There is nothing new about the Metaverse, but there are some major technological advances that will give us better tools for the future. The technology today far surpasses that of the past, but the concept has been around for a virtual eternity in “technological time”.

How Can Meta Master The Metaverse Now?

Meta, as noted in the previously mentioned article, can no more hope to “own” the Metaverse than they can to own the internet. Ownership and control in the modern day Wild West is as impossible today as it was in the days of the Pinkertons and Robber Barons. Try as they may, none of them successfully took full control of their lands. 

That is not to say that they did not have a major impact on the world around them. Where the Robber Barons failed, Meta can look and learn, and avoid many of the same mistakes made in the past. 

Where the robber barons spent their resources fighting off and running off the “little guys”, Meta has the unique capacity to create a consortium and win the day. 

This is speculation, but it is likely safe to presume that Meta has an infrastructure second only to Google and Governments in scope and size. Meta, through Facebook, also has a unique capacity for establishing virtual centers around the world and organizing a global movement to the Metaverse and beyond. 

Instead of spending its resources to buy out the competition, Meta could instead elect to work in a more cooperative manner with the proverbial “little guys”. Such systems have already been well-proven in the Open-Source communities as they already exist. 

The Open-Source community may be Anarchic in the sense that there are no established leaders, and it is not proprietary in nature. That is not to say that the people in the open source community are any less organized or capable. The nature of their work however, does somewhat hinder their ability to raise this level of funding.

Is An Open Source Metaverse Possible?

Not everyone is a Geek, and some people may as yet be unaware of the Open Source community. Linux was once relabeled as “The new version of Windows” and people were enthralled. That video may still be available, but it will be very difficult to find, for reasons that may be obvious. 

The Open Source community is well-known for cooperating, working together, and accomplishing virtually everything that Sir Nick Clegg claimed were the stated goals of Meta. If Meta truly wants to master the Metaverse they have the capacity to create a global open source community capable of establishing the requisite standards and protocols.

Meta is notorious for buying up the creations of others, yet it still benefits from the Open Source community, even without the assistance of Meta. As just one example of this, look at the SNAP community and their version of WhatsApp for Linux. 

WhatsApp was purchased by Meta, who still has not made the program available for the Open Source community. Despite this, developers have taken it upon themselves to standardize the protocols and allow for WhatsApp to be used on Linux machines. The question now becomes, will Meta return the favor? 

There is literally an entire global community ready, willing, and able to jump in and answer the call. 

All the machinations are in place, and better still, it would not cost Mark or Meta that much to set up the necessary infrastructure. In fact, much of it may already exist in those portions of the Metaverse that have already been created. 

What Would Meta Need To Spend? Virtually? Nothing? 

All Meta needs to contribute is space on their Metaverse for the Open Source community. Very few additional paid personnel would have to be added, if any at all. 

Standards and protocols as established in cooperation with Meta, for a more universal Metaverse experience, would instantly go global to a very receptive open source community. 

The history that would be made, and the public relations that could be gained cannot be bought, even for ten billion dollars, but it can be had almost free if Meta has the wherewithal for that. 

The net has been cast, the die has been tossed, and the ball is now in the virtual hands of Meta. 

Will Sir Nick Clegg and Mark Zuckerberg put out an open (source) call? It remains to be seen, but they are correct when they point out that the time to build a unified technological future is now.