Virtual Living — The Week that Was. The Wrap #10

This week’s editors are Gina Clifford and Sylvia Gallusser with submissions from the deep thinkers of the Grey Swan Guild, a virtual Think Tank that produces thought-provoking content like this.

As Hiro approaches the Street, he sees two young couples, probably using their parents’ computers for a double date in the Metaverse…He is not seeing real people, of course. This is all a part of the moving illustration drawn by his computer according to specifications coming down the fiber-optic cable. The people are pieces of software called avatars. They are the audio-visual bodies that people use to communicate with each other in the Metaverse.

The passage you just read is an excerpt from Snow Crash and it was written in 1992 by Neal Stephenson. It is significant because it introduces to the world, for the first time, the term metaverse. That’s right, the term metaverse is thirty years old. But as we explore virtual living and all its challenges and possibilities, we go far beyond the metaverse.

We’re interested in how people are using and will use virtual technologies to shape their identities, their careers, their learning habits and even their health. Will virtual products be more sought after than physical ones? What happens to our mental health when our virtual identities differ from our physical ones? How can we ensure equity and inclusion in virtual spaces, enabling technologies and foundational algorithms built largely by young, white males? How are brands responding to virtual platforms? How is the virtual world responding to the Russian invasion of Ukraine and where do you stand on all of this?

One thing is certain, we’re likely to be spending more time in virtual spaces.

By 2026, 25% of people will spend at least 1-hour on the Metaverse doing everyday things ranging from shopping and socializing to learning and working, according to Gartner’s latest report.

And if you don’t believe those stats, consider some jobs that are open right now.

Technical Program Manager — Metaverse Software Releases

Metaverse Real Estate Associate

NFT Strategist with compensation in crytopcurrency

Yes, these are real job ads seeking workers to build the metaverse. And already amid COVID-19, people working remotely have been redesigning their homes to fashionably accommodate a new style of work and play.

But what about working in the metaverse? With the metaverse, we’ll not only be able to communicate with people in a shared virtual environment, we’ll also be able to experiment with models of products and machines in a safer, more interactive format. For example, you could build a blueprint for a car in the metaverse with coworkers, changing materials and design elements at will, without waste.

So, what kinds of jobs might be needed in the metaverse?

  • Digital fashion designers can experiment with materials without using them.
  • Medical professionals who can examine a digital double of your body when you need help overcoming an illness or injury.
  • Tour guides. Imagine someone who can guide you around incredible places within the metaverse, just like a physical tour guide. The only difference is there’s really no limit to what or where you can tour in the metaverse.
  • Construct architect. A construct in the metaverse is an element developed from scratch, such as an experience, object, or place. This will require a lot of creative skill and expertise from developers and designers.
  • Smart contract lawyers. Deals and transactions in the metaverse will require new methods ensuring legality. Blockchain technology and smart contract lawyers may become more essential in this digital age.
Working 9 to 5 in the Metaverse

What’s fueling this desire to work on and in the metaverse? Demand for digital goods, of course-especially fashion and beauty items.

A survey of 3,000 people across eight global markets had some surprising results. Half are millennials and the others are Gen Z or Gen X, evenly split between men and women. One percent were non-binary. Forty seven percent of those surveyed said they had already purchased digital fashion. It is no longer about what people will want to wear in virtual worlds, but what they are willing to pay. And it isn’t just gamers and crypto dudes. Many women are interested in digital fashion. More than half of those surveyed said they would pay up to $49.99 for a virtual product for their avatar to use within a video game. All of this points to digital fashion becoming mainstream in the next five years.

What about you? What is your stance on digital living? Would you purchase digital fashion items?

Digital fashion is interesting because beauty is a deeply human concept. So, it isn’t too surprising that it matters considerably to our virtual identities. In a recent interview on the OmniFuture podcast, Sylvia Gallusser notes,

“Beauty has gone from figurines, jewelry and clothing to being applied to the surface of the body, to our faces, eyes and then on our skin-tattoos and finally plastic surgery and cosmetic prosthesis. So, what comes after? Virtual is the answer. We now are trying to transcend the body itself to have beauty artifacts apply even closer to our identity.”

The podcast episode deeply explores how the metaverse is shaping our standards of beauty and what this could mean for the future. We recommend that you take some time right now to listen.

The OmniFuture podcast is designed with future-focused executives, thinkers and thought leaders in mind. It explores the infinite set of potential futures we each face and how our actions and decisions in the present, can expand or limit what the future might become. And as a bonus for anyone reading this publication, the OmniFuture podcast has additional upcoming episodes on virtual living such as future scenarios for learning and work.

★ The best way to stay in the loop is to subscribe to the OmniFuture podcast.

Besides beauty and fashion, what else is hot in the metaverse?

It turns out, all sorts of brands are trying to cash in on the action. Executives from Adidas, Budweiser and other big consumer brands explain why the metaverse is “seismic” for their businesses.

Why do they care? Publicity, customer acquisition, customer engagement, customer retention, and — perhaps the biggest reason — new streams of revenue from things like…

Digital clothes, digital bicycles and even a digital renovation of the upstairs bathroom in your Decentraland home.

Even real estate is becoming a hot commodity in the metaverse. In fact, real estate is among the hottest metaverse properties you can buy. According to reports, virtual land sales in 2021 reached $500 million. If you’re in the market for some virtual properties, consider tracking some of these trends through 2022:

Metaverse land sales are expected to reach over $1 billion, but the market will be volatile, depending on industry movements.

Corporate and luxury brands will be some of the early movers.

Events in the metaverse could become a staple. This leads to five key implications of digital real estate:

1. It redefines the value of land and de-prioritizes utility factor.

2. It allows a wider pool of buyers to invest in real estate.

3. It is forward-looking and anticipates the metaverse will “blow up”.

4. It is a high-risk investment activity and could lead to losses.

5. It reimagines a host of real-world activities for metaverse land.

That last point about reimagining a host of real-world activities for metaverse land is already happening. The metaverse is all about immersive and self-guided exploration and Manchester City may have figured out how to provide unique and personalized experiences that are not even possible to achieve in actual games being played on the field by physical players.

Man City hopes to fill the virtual Etihad Stadium several times over, allowing fans to watch live games from anywhere in the world, change their point of view and angles at any time and even meet some of the players in the virtual space.

Virtual Etihad Stadium

If you’ve ever wondered, “How do I buy land in the metaverse?”, we’ve got you covered. According to XR Today, there are three things you should consider.

  • Speak with a metaverse real estate broker. Yes, the metaverse has its own real estate industry, with mortgage providers, brokers, and agents who specialize in this space.
  • Explore an affordable metaverse mortgage. Note that metaverse mortgages are an emerging idea and there are only a few companies offering this facility.
  • Purchase metaverse land outright using cryptocurrency. This is the most straightforward way to buy land in the metaverse and is most suitable for small and affordable purchases.
How can I buy land in the metaverse?

Are you seeing the pattern yet?

Our virtual lives are increasingly intertwining with our physical lives. Real estate is no exception. That is why it should not be too surprising to learn that someone recently purchased a physical house in Tampa, Fl. through an NFT sale using cryptocurrency. Bypassing banks and hard currency to purchase a physical piece of real estate with cryptocurrency might be signaling a developing trend. Already, the company selling physical real estate this way is planning future sales.

Would you buy a house through an NFT sale?

Virtual living isn’t only about immersive visuals. There’s plenty of other important virtual innovations that improve lives.

The Motor Neurone Disease Association collaborated with technologists to create a voice banking scheme to create synthetic and natural sounding voices for those losing their ability to speak.

The process of voice banking involves extracting specific sounds from a person’s voice recording and matching the sounds to pre-written text. Through an algorithm, unique vocal qualities are then applied — based on age, gender accent etc. — to produce a synthetic voice which can then be installed onto any assistive technology device. This helps those who may eventually lose their ability to speak a chance to use technology to still sound like themselves when using assistive technologies.

Finally, on a somber note. Digital technologies that enable virtual living are also contributing to an upstart war fighting strategy. Ukraine’s digital battle against Russia is ushering in a new kind of warfare. Oleksandr “Alex” Bornyakov, Ukraine’s deputy minister of digital transformation — and one of the government figures behind Ukraine’s digital war with Russia, has been working with the ministry on several digital fronts to keep the internet running in Ukraine. From a cryptocurrency crowdfunding effort to installing Starlink satellite technology and recruiting a civilian resistance army called the IT Army of Ukraine, the scrappy efforts are providing some hope. After all, Bornyakov notes,

“Russians are not really experts in that technology. So, their blocking systems are not working on Elon’s satellite.” Read the entire interview with Bornyakov on Politico.

Oleksandr “Alex” Bornyakov, Ukraine’s deputy minister of digital transformation

Imagine what virtual living might be like in ten years if some of these trends continue to strengthen. To inspire curious minds with an interest in the metaverse and virtual living, in general, some of the Grey Swan Guild Editors shared their recommended reading list on these topics. For anyone wanting to learn more about virtual living, the metaverse and some of the issues surrounding enabling technologies, this is a great list. It is not exhaustive, but it was expertly curated from the personal libraries of the Grey Swan Guilders Rob Tyrie, Nathan Gilliatt, Sylvia Gallusser and Gina Clifford.

What books would you add? Please share your suggestions.

Top Shelf

An Aura of Familiarity | Oryx and Crake | Ender’s Game | Discriminating Data | Ready Player One | Disclosure

Middle Shelf

Walkaway | Homo Deus | Invisible Women | Neuromancer | The Peripheral | Agency | Broken Stars

Bottom Shelf

The Three Body Problem | Touch | Anyone | Daemon | Snow Crash | Life On The Screen

VR circa 1992 “The Lawn Mowerman”

🤩 THE GREAT

1.In real-world applications of AR medical technology, Johns Hopkins neurosurgeons performed the institution’s first-ever AR surgeries on living patients in June. During the initial procedure, physicians placed six screws in a patient’s spine during a spinal fusion. Two days later, a separate team of surgeons removed a cancerous tumor from the spine of a patient. Both teams donned headsets made by Augmedics, an Israeli firm, equipped with a see-through eye display that projects images of a patient’s internal anatomy, such as bones and other tissue, based on CT scans. “It’s like having a GPS navigator in front of your eyes,” said Timothy Witham, M.D., director of the Johns Hopkins Neurosurgery Spinal Fusion Laboratory.

Surgeons perform surgery using AR

2.Incorporating VR in special education gives students access to personalized learning experiences

The clearest successes thus far have centered around physiological and sensory regulation, emotional regulation, and opportunities for students with limited mobility. But calming students who are overstimulated or are in overstimulating environments is also a benefit. Finally, those who lack mobility can put the headsets on and experience what it’s like to ride a mountain bike or even to snow ski.

3. Zelensky echoes Churchill in historic address to U.K. Parliament. From Shakespeare to Churchill, Zelensky addressed the House of Lords via video link. How does telepresence change diplomacy? He was there but not there. To be or not to be indeed.

Zelensky addresses the U.K. House of Commons virtually

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Tuesday became the first foreign leader to virtually address the U.K.’s House of Commons, where he channeled Britain’s wartime Prime Minister Winston Churchill while detailing Ukraine’s experience under 13 days of Russian assault. The U.K. has been among the leading suppliers of military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine, as Zelensky gratefully recognized in his address.

😃 THE GOOD

1.Using virtual reality (VR) technology to improve health has several applications, including bettering the quality of life for people with dementia. A recent study shows how VR can help even those with advanced dementia disease like Alzheimer’s disease.

How VR helps people with Dementia

2. A message of hope? There’s Still Time to Make a Better, More Ethical Web. Each form of media has had a chance to change or enhance ethics. New papers, Telegraph, Radio, Television, the Internet… today we all know each of these has been used for propaganda and worse, for agitprop. It is a safe guess that there will not be a layer of ethical fabric added into the fabric of Web3, the speed of adoption and the gold rush of incentives of commercial interests predict a very open environment where ethics are ignored until enough people are hurt and complain vociferously.

Can we still make a more ethical web?

3. TikTok is credited with increasing physical book sales over the past few years. Now, booksellers are taking a more serious look at the platform and even stocking book collections based on those featured on BookTok. So perhaps it is another great example of how our virtual and physical lives can mesh.

Here’s a list of the best books that found a second life thanks to TikTok

And it is not just books, TikTok is also driving sales of beauty products, gadgets and stuff for the kitchen —

Top Tiktok product recommendations

😔 THE BAD

1.Kids spending too much time in the virtual world may end up with memories based on virtual experiences. Even worse, they could end up with unrealistic expectations and poor social skills. Will parents spending time with their children in the metaverse help?

What does the metaverse mean for kids

2. It’s only funny until you barf. For some people, motion-sickness happens phenomena to sending awesomely real video signals into your brain through your eyes. Some folks just are not built to react to the attempts to trick their brains with the headset hack. Here are 7 ways to beat it to use today’s tech. The studies on VR addiction surely will also be a thing given how people became addicted to the Internet.

Motion sickness: it’s far from the flashiest aspect of VR, but it’s a real problem for some people when they put on a headset and enter a virtual world. VR motion sickness happens when your eyes tell your brain you’re moving around in a VR environment, but your body feels like it’s sitting in a chair or standing still. If you’re prone to the problem, these conflicting inputs cause you to feel miserable. Specifically, you might experience sensations like nausea, dizziness, headaches, sweating, excessive salivating, or all of the above. Even worse, these symptoms can continue for hours after you take off the headset and compound together.

😣 THE UGLY

There’s nothing uglier than war. This week, see the ugly threat of cyber warfare emerging.

Cyber attacks and bot farms threaten humanitarian orgs

1.Cyber attacks and bot farms threaten humanitarian organizations in Ukraine, showing just how much the Russian invasion is as much about cyber warfare as it is about dropping bombs. From disinformation campaigns to digital surveillance and cyber attacks on infrastructure, humanitarian agencies are vulnerable because their preparedness is spotty at best.

2.At the same time, cyber attacks aimed at U.S. natural gas companies increase as the U.S. becomes the largest exporter of natural gas amid Russia’s attack on Ukraine.

Cyber attacks increasing on U.S. natural gas installations

🧐 THE GREY ZONE OF UNCERTAINTY

1.It is all well and good, and then someone says “who called the cops?”.The tightly run community allows members to experience a fantasy version of police life and prides itself on being a source of chaotic good in the strange world of virtual reality.

Virtual cops

2. “This War of Mine” — We marked this as grey because although it provides a unique perspective on the suffering in war, it is sad that a video game portraying suffering during a war is popular because it is actually happening in real life in Ukraine right now.

Scene from the video game, This War of Mine

A 2014 award-winning video game from Polish studio 11 Bit Studios portrays war from a civilian perspective and is helping people empathize with Ukrainian citizens as the Russian invasion continues.

Sales have surged recently for “This War of Mine” as it evokes scenes in Kyiv and Kharkiv right now. The studio also has a “reality distortion” app and a virtual reality experience. Metaverse content can convey war’s difficult choices in a way social media and other traditional content cannot. And let’s face it, Gen Z doesn’t consume media the way people that came before do. Perhaps this is the kind of war-focused video game/VR experience we need right now.

3. Virtual Living Funeral Ceremony. Not sure if everyone feels that contemplating their own death is life-affirming. But for those that do, you can have a virtual living funeral.

The virtual living funeral ceremony is an experiential meditation on mortality. Participants are guided, in the comfort of their own spaces, by trained practitioners using Zoom. The ceremony is an invitation to connect deeply with the mystery and richness of one’s life. It is an opportunity to reflect on the past, evaluate the present and prepare for the future. Participants will contemplate their personal memorial while imagining parts of their identity falling away. They will complete a writing exercise expressing their last words and wishes, and be gently led through a death meditation using guided imagery. Many past participants have shared that the experience has been life-affirming and even life-altering.

Photo by Kate McLean on Unsplash

TAPESTRY

The metaverse explained…

The metaverse, explained

Lexicon — New words that describe old things

Meatspace — vaguely pejorative. Check with your friends IRL if they think they live in meatspace. The cooler ones will know the truth.

/ˈmētspās/

  1. the physical world, as opposed to cyberspace or a virtual environment. There was no meatspace before there was the idea of cyberspace.

usage: “Meet? IRL? Like where? I’d like to know a little more before we talk about a get-together in meatspace”

  • From: Oxford Dictionary

VR Movie of the Week

Tron Legacy. Who doesn't want to ride a Lightcycle?

VR Game of the Week … only available on Oculus

The Room — This will blow you away.

Infographic of the Week

Gaming isn’t just for kicks. As a potential growth area for the metaverse, brands should be paying attention to this wonderful infographic from Wunderman Thompson. Forty-nine percent of gamers wish their favourite brands were present in games and 41% see no difference between digital and physical goods. Now that looks very much like a market opportunity for virtual goods!

Best Product You Can’t Actually Buy in Real Life

But useful for the Metaverse…On Sale Occasionally.

Metaverse Trademark of the Week

Slim Jim files for “Meataverse” trademark. Virtual food products — yummy.

Meme of the Week — Who else can relate?

Source

25 Best Virtual Reality Space in the Meta You Can Play and Visit Right Now

Moss is an ambitious mix of all the colorful elements from classic games combined with custom mechanics for VR. If you’re in the market for living a grippy story while solving puzzles, you will like this VR game.

Follow the link to find 24 more than Moss.

Moss VR game

Colophon

Why not join us on Sunday, March 13th at 8am (PST) 11am (EST) / 4pm BST We’d love to hear your thoughts on this wrap, so why not join us on Clubhouse this Sunday the 13thof March 2022 at 8 am PST | 11 am EST | 4 pm BST | 5 pm SAST to make sense of it all, have your say, and engage with your favourite Grey Swan Guild Wrap Editors:

Doyle Buehler, Sylvia Gallusser, Sean Moffitt, Agustín Borrazás, Rob Tyrie, Louise Mowbray, Ben Thurman, Antonia Nicols, Esmee Wilcox, Geeta Dhir, Gina Clifford, Su McVey with Clubhouse Captains Howard Fields, Scott Phares, and Lindsay Fraser.

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To Make Sense of the World’s Biggest Challenges and Next Grey Swans — curating and creating knowledge through observation, sensemaking, critical thinking, informed futurism, strategic foresight and analysis. www.greyswanguild.org

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