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What Exactly Is the Metaverse? Get a 'Crash' Course

Dave Morgan
Dave Morgan  |  Executive Chairman
Updated: Nov. 18, 2021
Published: Aug. 04, 2021

Many folks are talking about the metaverse these days. Mark Zuckerberg has declared that Facebook will reorganize from a social network into a metaverse company within five years. The New York Times ran a substantial feature entitled, “Are We in the Metaverse Yet?” And almost every new initiative, from gaming and crypto companies, from Roblox to NFTs, are being scrutinized for their “metaverse-ness.”

OK, let’s assume that you’re new to the whole concept of the metaverse and you want to get up to speed. Does that mean running out and demoing a set of virtual reality glasses?

I would suggest against that. At the current stage of VR technology, it’s sometimes just a good way to get a headache.

What should you do?

Well, the Times piece says, by introduction: “As a buzzword, the metaverse refers to a variety of virtual experiences, environments and assets that gained momentum during the online-everything shift of the pandemic.”

For more info/context, here are my three simple suggestions:

Read Snow Crash. The term metaverse was coined by sci-fi novelist and futurist Neal Stephenson in his extraordinary 1992 creation, Snow Crash. Read it immediately, if you haven’t already. None other than Timothy Leary said of the book, “A fantastic slam-bang-overdrive, super-surrealistic, comic whirl through a tomorrow that is already happening.”

Read Matthew Ball. Venture capitalist Matthew Ball is one of the very best and most important thinkers and writers on the metaverse. His most recent piece, “A Framework for the Metaverse,” is a must-read for anyone who wants to understand how the concept is playing out. Read it and read everything else that he writes on the subject.

Follow Rich Greenfield and Brandon Ross of LightShed Partners. Rich Greenfield and Brandon Ross are longtime and well-known Wall Street analysts covering media and technology. They are super-smart, prolific writers, have a fun and accessible style, post a lot on Twitter and have a great podcast. Follow them. Listen to them. Laugh with them. Rich and Brandon will help you understand how metaverse trends are impacting today’s media and tech companies, and how those trends play into tomorrow’s industries.

It's that simple: Snow Crash, Matthew Ball and Lightshed Partners can make you smart on the metaverse, helping you develop a robust and informed point of view. At the very least, they will ensure you will be able to carry on metaverse conversations -- with or without cocktails -- with bosses, colleagues, friends and family, and actually sound like you know what you’re talking about.

Want an informed point of view on the power of television advertising? Download our Cross-Channel TV Playbook for a detailed guide on how to unlock audiences on both linear and connected TV.

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An earlier version of this blog was originally published by MediaPost.