In October, I wrote about the rebadging of the social media platform formerly known as Facebook. The beleaguered firm had de­cided that a name change might help to shed its image as a toxic platform known for amplifying hate speech, fake news and for using surreptitiously gathered data to boost engagement and advertising revenues.

The key to Facebook’s makeover was its pivot to the “metaverse”, a combination of virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and video where users “live” within a digi­tal universe. The term metaverse — “meta” (meaning “beyond”) and the “verse” (short­hand for “universe”) — was coined by Neal Stephenson in his 1992 science fiction nov­el Snow Crash, where humans interact with each other as avatars as well as with software agents in a three dimensional or 3D space that uses the metaphor of the real world.

If you watched movies like 2018’s Ready Player One or Free Guy released earlier this year, you got a glimpse of the upcoming metaverse. Some of you are old enough to re­member Second Life, the heavily hyped on­line virtual world, created by Linden Lab in 2003. Although hundreds of millions of peo­ple were supposed to have used the virtual world, it is a virtual ghost town now with just half a million users.

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