The EconomistThe Economist

In “The Metaverse”, Matthew Ball explains where the idea came from

By The Economist

27 Jul 2022 · 4 min read

You should read this to understand how terms like 'metaverse' may eventually get lost even as the future proposed by it is realized, just like the term 'information superhighway' from the 90s.

Curated by informed

Do you remember the information superhighway? In the early 1990s pundits predicted that high-speed data networks would soon connect millions of people, letting them exchange information and linking them to “movies and television shows, shopping services, electronic mail and huge collections of data”, as the New York Times put it. Yet today millions use Netflix and Amazon, Gmail and Wikipedia, and no one talks of “cruising the information superhighway”—or ever did. The vision was prescient, but the jargon died.

Something similar may now be happening with the term “metaverse”. It is also the subject of feverish speculation—this time about the possibilities of 3d virtual worlds, and a sense that video-game technology and online communication are converging in interesting ways. But its definition is elusive, and none of the multitudes who congregate in virtual worlds today, such as players of the game “Fortnite”, actually use the word.

The news, curated.

Subscribe in our mobile app to continue reading this The Economist article

Already subscribed? Sign in

Get world-class journalism from premium publishers, curated by editors and experts. All in one app.

Subscribe now and get 14 days free.