Designing Worlds and the Metaverse

Our massive push toward more immersive online experiences, space travel, and connected social worlds seem even more divorced from reality when we consider what’s happening in the physical world. Maybe that is the point.

When things come in threes I take notice. This is not for any superstitious reasons and more because it points to a micro-trend. Or, it’s a least a sign of where my attention lies.

This week it’s the metaverse, Facebook, rockets to Mars, NFT‘s and the House of Beautiful Business’ (HBB) annual multimedia conference that brought much of it together. (That’s more than threes).

This is in juxtaposition with the G20 meetings and the G20 meets and the Council of the Parties to the Paris Accord (COP26) meeting to discuss ways industrialized economies can limit the effects of climate change in the years to come.

All of it is about a future we want, we fear, and we want to create. Most of it is disturbing and ironic.

Masters of the Metaverse

What stuck out most for me was a talk by Cathy Hackl (pictured above) at Concrete Love — the ironically named and aforementioned HBB event held in Lisbon, Portugal and online.

Hackl spoke about how she’s designed NFT clothing and has purchased avatars, and other artistic works in part to prepare herself for a world that is forming online. Her case is intriguing and sometimes compelling if you wish to advance further into a metaverse-facilitated world ahead of others.

During the Q & A session after her presentation, Hackl was asked to comment on the concerns about the environmental impact of things like NFT’s.

Her response was: “There are different NFTs” and how they use different amounts of energy. She even mentioned that NFT fashion uses less energy than making physical clothes. That’s a non answer. That’s the answer from the metaverse.

But then, that’s where she’s focused.

Meanwhile in Glasgow…

Meanwhile we have climate change and the crisis that it has brought us.

Over at the COP26, parties are seeking to find ways to keep our carbon output to a level that doesn’t raise our temperatures more than 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels. This number — even if achieved — is a bit of a slow-clap. We’re in trouble already and what COP26 is looking to do is not repair things, but reduce the amount of damage we’re intending to create.

It’s considered to be our last real chance to consciously choose a different path from what has been forecast to be a hot, wet, and destructive one. Whether we design a liveable future or not is at stake.

If we continue down the road we’re taking we will not have a liveable planet – at least one where we spend much time outside.

Cue the metaverse. The metaverse and the attention to digital, artificial, and entirely designed worlds prepares us for a life inside. Cathy Hackl’s digital fashion will be far more handy when the only way we interact with her — or in whatever form she seeks to take — is digitally.

The proponents of the metaverse are preparing for life on Mars without us having to leave earth.

We are not in a position to go backward, but we can choose where we focus our design efforts. The more attention we pay to virtual worlds, going to Mars, space tourism, and cryptocurrency the less we pay to those journeys, people, things, and value that are real for the physical world.

Where we choose to focus our attention determines our reality — whether that reality is digital or not.

Photos used under Creative Commons license via Wikipedia, by Steve Johnson on Unsplash and by Stephen O’Donnell on Unsplash

Cameron D. Norman

I am a designer, psychologist, educator, evaluator, and strategist focused on innovation in human systems. I'm curious about the world around me and use my role as Principal and President of Cense Ltd. as a means of channeling that curiosity into ideas, questions, and projects that contribute to a better world.

    Leave a Reply

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

    %d bloggers like this: