Ah, the battle for the ZoomConomy* and the coming Multiverse accelerates… established platforms from the Virtual World and VR domains now seeing tailwind and jumping into the fray, vs newer, lighter weight players like OnlineTown or Philip Rosedale’s latest offering from High Fidelity, as well as the usual suspects (FB, Google, etc.) looking to usurp Zoom’s dominance, by opening up APIs and marketplaces for experiential “apps” (templates and tools for gatherings of different size, immersiveness, activity type, interactivity)…
[*Zoom as shorthand for the phenomena overall. Not endorsement for Zoom as specific dominant platform longterm…]
Game engines like Unity and Unreal will want to be the “graphics layer” and Lego kit for the Multiverse… Big game worlds like Minecraft and Red Dead Redemption will want to be the richly rendered theme parks that host meetings and events within them.
Talent agencies wanting to be the William Morris of the Zoomconomy spinning up — incumbents and upstarts like StagePresence managing and booking a wider set of Talent and Performers for virtual events and private parties, corporate and team building events, galas and fundraisers (sound bath healers, exotic dancers, workshop leaders, breathwork guides…)
Production and design companies like Liminalia may evolve to be the “Insomniac of virtual gatherings”, beginning with fundraising galas, immersive art parties, corporate events…
…and BurningMan might expand to accommodate millions upon millions of new Burners around the world this summer, potentially unlocking whole new participatory art experiences and revenue streams that will persist even after the Playa opens back up in 2021.
On-demand virtual labor marketplaces will re-employ comedians, actors, chaplains, commentators, news anchors, and people with witty personalities to serve as moderators, hosts, MCs in Zoom-style gatherings… (“ZJs” and virtual work Taskrabbits) They will package their personalities along with templates and activity guides for everything from funerals, to game shows, to AA meetings, speed dating, book clubs, and happy hours… perhaps a healthy counterbalance to automation turning commodity manual gig workers into “ghost workers,” as well as the accelerated Amazonification of “disaster capitalism.”
Soon we’ll see new formats of social gathering that improves upon the brick and mortar experience of the Bar, the funeral, the karaoke parlor, the comedy club, the art gallery…the dance club in which you can strut your stuff decked out in analog and/or digital outfits, yet also introduce yourself authentically to everyone there, and have a clearly heard sidebar chat with any and all simultaneously (imagine SoulTrain 2020, fully participatory, with celeb guests and co-hosts, with person getting their minute in the rotating Center Screen featured spotlight to show off their moves and personality)
More Podcasts will become participatory discussions.
Game designers and digital/3D CAD artists will become the new Architecture firms of virtual structures… VFX and filter designers will be the new set designers, costumers and make-up artists (as our curated Zoom background, avatar, and filter collection becomes the new Ringtone, or Spotfiy playlist — Grace Paglen has a fun example collection shared here). People will become adroit with swapping backgrounds, avatars, animations, images on the fly, reminiscent of early MTV VJs, or running their own 2020 version of Wayne’s World, all interconnected with each other…
Celebs, athletes, musicians, influencers will find new ways to monetize their popularity, and we’ll see a new form of “personalized celeb” pop up — how much would you pay to have a direct Zoom relationship with your favorite (and especially esoteric) fashion designer, painter, game designer, author, athlete, actor, etc.? Imagine a melding of Patreon + Clubhouse + Zoom + MasterClass + Twitch…
If Web 1.0 was about networking and linking static pages of hypertext…
…and Web 2.0 was about adding in multimedia richness with audio/video/graphical widgets
…and Web 3.0 birthed social and mobile apps
Then Web 4.0 may likely be the Experiential Web…interconnected real-time experiences of many different formats and immersiveness, denoted by a new type of descriptive markup language (ExML = Experiential Markup Language?), supporting a variety of front ends (browser, mobile device, XR headsets, smart earpods, haptics, wearables, smarthome devices and portals…)
Our browsing behaviors may become a mix of serendipitous wandering across a virtual Playa, auto-following your posse, chasing down a friend on a virtual “Marauder’s Map”, teleporting to a point of interest, and bopping between multiple break-out bubbles in the sidebar chat menu. We’ll be virtually cloning our realtime presence and sharding our attention across multiple screens, attempting to participate in simultaneous happenings all at once, some programmed and scheduled, others emergent and ad-hoc, the rest always-on and ambient
VR will enter the mainstream first as a hybrid of “ZR” — blending telepresence, augmented reality and then virtual reality over platforms like Zoom, Twitch, Discord… which will then splinter into Vertical pureplays by interest area and use case.
New forms of “Security” and Verification will be required in this Multiverse: airlocks and lobbies to keep out Zoombombers. Filter-Bans will become the new Ad Blockers.
Perhaps we cure some aspects of digital addiction and downgrading by moving towards more authentic and human LIVE interactions…where an individual’s true realtime personality, vulnerability and gifts become the default “content”, rather than carefully crafted and filtered “posts” honed for maximum shares and likes.
Perhaps Authenticity and Vulnerability begin to trump Reach and Virality
Perhaps Intimacy becomes more prized than Info
Perhaps Companionship gets more swipes than Hookup
Perhaps Depth becomes more valued than Breadth
Perhaps Connection surpasses Content and Collection
Perhaps Realtime, Ad-hoc, Interactive, Raw, Weird and even Awkward become more appealing than On-demand, Infinite Feed, Algorithmically Tuned, and Filtered to Perfection
Perhaps we evolve from “Social” Media to Conversational Media
Perhaps a Digital Works Progress Administration tied to UBI will reskill and redeploy millions of volunteers and workers according to the new forms of peer support, outreach, awareness, and service that will be required.
Might we Re-Humanize Media with realtime, authentic, longform, conversational experiential interactivity (Tim Kring calls this “sitting around the The Digital Campire”)…and get away from the Bot-driven feed comprised of algo-authored digital junkfood?
Our pioneers of this new frontier reside on the fringes: the LARPers, Burners, experimental artists, nomads, and outcasts. Evolution occurs at the Edges.
What parallel poetry might be synchronized between the building of Post-COVID Microverse (diaspora out of big cities towards regenerative and resilient households and communities out in nature), the virtual Multiverse, a re-balanced Macroverse (firmware updates to our sorely outdated systems of Consumptive Capitalism and Hacked Democracy), and the TechniDelic enabled MetaVerse of expanded Consciousness?
Originally published on Medium.