The metaverse is not what Mark Zuckerberg says it is. It’s not a place or alternate reality we will all migrate into. It’s not a game. It’s not a land grab (although that is happening). And it’s not just a massive branding opportunity (although there are lots of opportunities for brands to thrive).
The truth is, the metaverse is a decentralized system that has a lot in common with peer-to-peer services like Napster, Skype, and BitTorrent. Oh, and Facebook and Meta do not. Decentralized peer-to-peer networks are where all the technologists gather and create the architecture that fuels innovation. And that’s true for the metaverse as well.
I’ll give you two examples that are relevant for understanding the metaverse. Founded in 2003, Skype was part of a wave of technologies (including BitTorrent, Kazaa, and Napster) that connected individual computers in an automated, trustful way. These networks were optimized for bandwidth and reduced the bottlenecks for tapping into popular content.
Why was Skype able to rise above the competition as a key player in the market? Peer-to-peer technology. It created a network of nodes that enabled an always-on hyper-efficient community and a connected network. This meant it wasn’t tied to the limitations of any telecom carrier.
Of course, when Skype moved to the Azure platform, the core technology changed. But when it first arrived, Skype was revolutionary and unlocked an incredible burst of innovation that continues to make our lives better today. Or take Spotify. Like Skype, it used peer-to-peer technology to store and distribute content.
Decentralization let the service acquire millions of users and deliver great audio, and the service eventually became ubiquitous. The fingerprints of world-changing peer-to-peer decentralized innovation and disruption are all over the internet.