back to article Big Tech is building the metaverse of its own dreams. You don't want to go there

A year ago, corporate VR sucked deep on the hype pipe and offered it around. We weren't convinced. All that investment, all that technology, to recreate a drab pastiche of the very environments we'd gratefully escaped in the magical world of WFH. Without imagination, without soul, with no humanity, who would want to visit? …

  1. alain williams Silver badge

    Zuck has been listening to too much Eagles

    Does he realise that Hotel California was only a song ?

    1. Andy Mac

      Re: Zuck has been listening to too much Eagles

      Maybe it’s the codename for his virtual world. Either that or Royston Vasey.

      1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
        Unhappy

        Either that or Royston Vasey.

        Ho ho.

        Probably not.

        Poor inferencing skills.

        "Every corporate desire"

        Sounds ghastly.

        Will be.

      2. MyffyW Silver badge

        Royston Vasey

        ...but we didn't burn them

        1. David 132 Silver badge

          Re: Royston Vasey

          “This is a local Metaverse, for local people!”

    2. zuckzuckgo Bronze badge

      Re: Zuck has been listening to too much Eagles

      Meta's mission statement:

      "We are programmed to receive

      You can check out any time you like

      But you can never leave"

    3. EVP Silver badge
      Big Brother

      Re: Zuck has been listening to too much Eagles

      I’m afraid he has been zucking in every word in the song.

      I’m worried that VR will become a norm. You must use it to interact at least in school and work. I don’t want that kind of world. Not for me, not for anyone.

      My grim thoughs are that sleazy saledroids will go first (well, after failing corporate market first try) to schools and give access to their platform for pennies (not free, that’d be suspicious). Headmasters will get soooo exited about ‘future possibilities’. Teachers will be brainwashed to think that their pupils will become junkies unless they get used to the new awesome tech. Oh man, gen-A (counter overflow), and all subsequent ones, besmirched.

      The gen-A will eventually go to unis, and finally to work life. They won’t even realise that you wouldn’t have to expose yourself to that shit. Some will even demand use of VR, the ones who’ll become upper management. Game over man, all buggered.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Zuck has been listening to too much Eagles

        > I’m worried that VR will become a norm. You must use it to interact at least in school and work. I don’t want that kind of world. Not for me, not for anyone.

        I agree. Fortunately, I'm close enough to retirement that I can almost certainly avoid having to use VR for work should an employer eventually decide that's their "norm". Once I say "Sayonara, Corporate America", if anyone wants to get in touch with me, they'll have to do so in a non-VR way.

  2. Spazturtle Silver badge

    They are doomed to fail, it is premature to try and build a metaverse and any successful one will be federated where people can make their own world and connect them to a hub. But big tech is so desperate to control everything that they want to be the first on the market even though they don't understand what it is that they are trying to make.

    1. vtcodger Silver badge

      The Northwest Passage

      They are doomed to fail, it is premature to try and build a metaverse

      Probably true. But you don't know until you try. I'd compare it to the search for the Northwest Passage. Great rewards perhaps if you find one. Eventually they found one. Turns out there are several and none of them are reliable. Which routes, if any, are open in any given year depends on where the Winter's ice pack drifts to in the Spring/Summer. The season is short and even with a warmer climate it's possible that none will ever be usable for much.

      A good deal of resource was lost trying to force a passage through the Canadian Archipelago. Maybe there's a warning for Silicon Valley there.

      I'd group VR, AI and Quantum Computing as unproven technologies that might have great promise or might be nothing more than huge resource sinks. It's not clear whether pursuing them leads to great benefits for humanity and untold wealth for pioneers or like the search for El Dorado will leave the seekers wandering about in an endless wilderness until they give up and go home.

      1. Alex Stuart

        Re: The Northwest Passage

        > I'd group VR, AI and Quantum Computing as unproven technologies that might have great promise or might be nothing more than huge resource sinks.

        I wouldn't call VR unproven - gaming in VR can be genuinely brilliant and immersive on a level not possible with TVs. It will become even more immersive with increased processing power and screen technology, and less unwieldy as the headsets get smaller.

        The only drawback that will not be easily resolved, if it's even possible at all without some sort of multi-directional treadmill, is the motion sickness associated with lateral movement. I got used to it so it's not so much of an issue, but the disjoint is always there to an extent, and I imagine there are people who simply don't get used to it.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          We are slaves to our inital misconceptions

          VR->AR->metaverse we keep mistaking the tools for looking at the object for the object itself.

          The "next" idea of the metaverse will be mostly viewed by people waving phones around. Not becuse that is the highest tech, or most immersive way, but because it's cheap, it's here, and it works. The trend will be towards pro gear over time, with content creators and pro's using the (literally) heavy weight tools and people indulging in increasing amounts of immersive content.

          But the things that will begin to make this take off are the lightly immersive experiences that unite people in a shared experience. Some of those experiences will be persistent, and form a stable island of content that will become organically linked. Some of those thinks may be linked to the gaming or entertainment industries, others will likely be more mundane.

          Duplicate earths or universal pervasive social networks aren't able to hit the needed critical mass by themselves because they are mostly boring and empty space. Facebook's attempted rebrand shows how it's management is resistant to clue in that regard, where their experience is just a crappier version of something we can already to faster and easier on another platform. Everyone's trying to build on the generic 90's era versions of these ideas that never really took off.

          I feel like there are going to be some big forks in the road, where the game studios and movie companies take one branch of labor intensive, deeply immersive, but narrower in scope content. There will be large scale industrial simulation, like NVIDIA's effort, which will be largely void of human occupants probably, vast in scale but sparse in population and interaction. Facebook is trying to re-create itself, but it's all just window dressing for a boring, Orwellian, ad and spyware platform, and the math doen't add up for fake vitamin singers.

          It matters a lot less "how" we look at these worlds as what we are looking at, what we are doing there, who controls the platforms these worlds are built on.

        2. jmch Silver badge

          Re: The Northwest Passage

          There's a huge disconnect between what will work - fully immersive games and 'movies' - and what will flop gigantically - a general recreation of full-life experience (which is what Meta seems to be aiming for)

          The first will work because it just requires the user to turn up, and because it creates experiences that are NOT available in the real world. Why would anyone get into the metaverse to have a work meeting, or hang around in a bar, when the technology could allow someone to experience paragliding, or walking on a different planet, or hunting dinosaurs in the Jurassic or anything one can imagine?

          1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

            Re: The Northwest Passage

            Honestly I don't even see the appeal in immersive games and movies. When I want immersion I can go outside. For the rest of my entertainment, I want a frame.

            Hell, I don't even like the disappearance of phone bezels.

            1. Richard 12 Silver badge

              Re: The Northwest Passage

              That's fine, but don't mistake "I don't want to do that" with "nobody wants to do that".

              It's quite clear that lots of people do enjoy VR games, VR short films and virtually visiting places in the real world.

              The thing they all have in common though is that the user is in control. Take that away and people will run.

            2. Tomato42

              Re: The Northwest Passage

              My outside doesn't have a spaceship parked on the driveway able to jump multiple light-years between stars in a matter of seconds, hell, it doesn't even have a WRC car!

        3. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

          Re: The Northwest Passage

          I wouldn't call VR unproven - gaming in VR can be genuinely brilliant and immersive on a level not possible with TVs.

          Sure, that's a use case which some people are interested in. I'm not, personally; I'm not interested in VR for me at all, for any use. But some people are, so clearly we're defining "already proven" as "usable in practice to satisfy use cases for some number of people".

          By the same token, there are use cases for quantum computing (GQC) which are already realizable, such as simulating quantum circuits and quantum processes. We can only build machines which handle smallish cases, but those smallish cases are intractable or close to it on conventional computing systems, so GQC is also "already proven" by your metric.

          And the same is true of large-scale machine learning, which I assume is what the previous poster means by "AI". (The term Artificial Intelligence no longer means anything useful, if it ever did.) There are a ton of real-world applications using large-scale ML now. Google search uses a BERT-based model, for example. That's also "already proven". (If the previous poster meant AGI, that's a harder target, because there's no general consensus on what it would even mean, or how we'd demonstrate we have it. And it's certainly debatable what would constitute useful application.)

        4. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: The Northwest Passage

          Check out Jamie Hyneman's VR shoes...

        5. M.V. Lipvig Silver badge

          Re: The Northwest Passage

          Good for you, but not everyone. Remember Doom? I haven't played Doom since the 1990, but even thinking about it makes me queasy. VR games? Not even gonna try them unless forced, and if forced the VR gear's gonna be swimming in breakfast, or lunch as the case may be.

      2. CRConrad

        Re: The Northwest Passage... Is coming on-line.

        I'd compare it to the search for the Northwest Passage. Great rewards perhaps if you find one. Eventually they found one. Turns out there are several and none of them are reliable. Which routes, if any, are open in any given year depends on where the Winter's ice pack drifts to in the Spring/Summer. The season is short and even with a warmer climate it's possible that none will ever be usable for much.
        That's how it used to be, for about the first century after the discovery of the Northwest Passage(s).

        Of late, though, what with global warming and stuff, there's already significantly less ice, making the route more viable for commercial purposes.

        (Easiest way to measure how far along it is, is probably to check how many rights to build ports along a new Northern Silk Road are being bought up all on the quiet by China.)

    2. zuckzuckgo Bronze badge

      > They are doomed to fail,

      Apple has demonstrated that if your technology is sufficiently compelling, people will rush into your walled garden. One can only hope that it is not that compelling.

      1. jmch Silver badge

        I was thinking exactly of Apple when I read this: "By offering deep-pocketed tech firms the ability to indulge in their own virtual reality where they can have everything they wish, it exposes their complete inability to envision anything worthwhile. "

        Apple's introduction of the iPod and then the iPhone shows that it is possible for tech firms to envision worthwhile stuff. Heck, even Facebook is of tremendous value for those people who use it to connect to others remotely. The problem isn't with the vision it's with the implementation (walled garden in first case, data-slurping and ads in the second).

        Thought experiment - If Facebook didn't collect / sell your data and was ad-free, would you be willing to pay $3/mth for it? Because that seems like a fair deal to me, and if every current user paid that, that's more than their current revenue.

        1. Jonjonz

          Apples "Envisioning"

          Yea sure, Apple "envisioned" the Ipod, right after copying mundane moderately successful thumdrive/media players and re-branding them as upscale status and fashion symbols.

          1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

            Re: Apples "Envisioning"

            And the same can be said of the iPhone. I'm not saying Apple never innovate, but let's not pretend their products are sui generis.

            1. doublelayer Silver badge

              Re: Apples "Envisioning"

              The point is not that Apple created products where nothing similar existed, but that they created innovations on existing ideas that made people want to buy them. The iPod was not the first digital audio player, but it made major improvements on the product which were later emulated and improved by competitors. The iPhone did not invent the smartphone, but it did invent the multitouch touchscreen phone at least to the extent that previous attempts had almost no market penetration.

              There's a reason the iPod was so popular and that all modern smartphones look like the iPhone. Apple didn't invent products that made people say "I've never seen anything like that before", but they did find a few that made people want them over the competition. I don't mean to suggest that they did that with every product they made, but they have had a few of those over the decades.

          2. An_Old_Dog Silver badge

            Re: Apples "Envisioning"

            Not an Apple fanboi here, but, do you realize the original iPod was hard-disc-based? That was because flash drives of the time were expensive, low-capacity, and slow. The original iPod was an "original" product. The later models ... not so much.

            1. xeroks

              Re: Apples "Envisioning"

              The Creative music player was rust based, and predated the ipod.

              The UI was clunky though, not a patch on the ipod's wheel (which _was_ a great innovation).

              The Creative player was bulkier and awkward. It looked like consumer devices of the time, like portable CD players.

              The look of the iPod was its other big innovation - it blew most other consumer products away.

        2. badflorist Bronze badge

          "...would you be willing to pay $3/mth for it?"

          For facebook?... I'd pay $5,000 a month... a fucking HARD 5k!! If there was a "Super-Zucker" premium version I'd pay $20k/month... straight up!! The value is comparable to fresh drinking water and clean socks... Zucker has built a utopian reality touched by higher being.

          1. David 132 Silver badge
            Thumb Up

            The sarcasm is strong in this one.

            Or the drugs.

            One or the other.

            1. yetanotheraoc Silver badge

              Quick, sell that florist some drinking water and some clean socks, before the drugs wear off.

        3. J. Cook Silver badge
          Megaphone

          Thought experiment - If Facebook didn't collect / sell your data and was ad-free, would you be willing to pay $3/mth for it? Because that seems like a fair deal to me, and if every current user paid that, that's more than their current revenue.

          Not in it's current iteration, hell no. The UI is horrible, the display order defaults to 'most popular' and can't be changed, the settings (and locations thereof) move around more often than Microsoft. and there's too much garbage in the UI itself, resulting in a thin column for the content I'm there for surrounded by large slabs of irrelevant options that I'll never use and can't remove, presented (or "featured") content I do not want to see nor intend to see, an IM client that I can't minimize off to the side, and on both sides, vast tracts of empty browser space because someone didn't write the UI to scale the content column properly.

          Oh, and new settings are automatically turned ON without notice and obfuscating the toggle to turn them off. (i.e., 'we opt-in everyone, and somewhere in the mess of the settings UI there's a way to opt-out- good luck finding it!')

          Give me a UI like what Livejournal (or it's clones) use, let me customize it to remove what I don't want to use (you can still have it, just give me the option to remove it) tell me if there's a new setting if I want to turn it ON (leave it OFF by default!) and make the settings UI layout more sensible and usable.

          I wouldn't mind a walled garden nearly as much if the owners of it respected my right of privacy and made it easy for me to actually use, dammit.

        4. M.V. Lipvig Silver badge

          No, because we know that next year it's 4 bucks a month with ads or 6 bucks without, and before you know it it's 100 bucks a month and there are so many ads that the content looks like an ad.

    3. Jim-234

      Second Life made a really good start almost 2 decades ago on having a virtual world where people could (for better or worse) do mostly as they wanted without exorbitant fees and rigid controls.

      It was a great place where you could log in and start building whatever you wanted and meet friends and be whatever you wanted to be.

      They were working on trying to make the interface open and interoperable so that you could seamlessly use their servers and servers hosted by others and have a common link that would enable everyone to expand much like the broader internet.

      Unfortunately that key step got stopped, possibly because you know money, and thinking that being open would mean less money. And that kind of stalled it's growth and the entire idea all together as each tech company made their own little fifedoms where everything was only them and nothing worked with anything else and it was them or bust.

      That is probably one of the biggest reasons nothing is happening in any big way.

      Imagine how far the internet would have gotten if you could only use one software package, on one company's servers and only do what they said you could do at prices they set with no competition.

      1. DS999 Silver badge

        That "key step" might have limited its growth a bit, but lack of ongoing interest and anything useful to do with it was always going to be the major reason why Second Life was just a niche for a few weirdos who took its name far too literally.

        It is just a tarted up MUD, which have been around since the 70s. It sounds like the whole "metaverse" concept is just an evolution of that same tired theme with better graphics. Too bad graphics aren't the reason people consider variations on the theme of MUDs, Sim City, Second Life and so on fun for a short while but almost always quickly become bored with.

        So it shall be as well with the VR worlds, whether operated by Zuck or opened up for infinite expansion like the web.

        1. J. Cook Silver badge

          SecondLife...

          ...Is/ was an interesting concept, but to really get a lot out of it you had to practically learn how to script, and import graphics for textures and either use their (crude) modeling tools or import something from a proper 3d program in a format it understood. It's changed around a HUGE amount from the last time I really used it back in 2004/5 and is practically a different application now. (IIRC, it was originally based around the VRML protocols, so there is that.)

        2. Jim-234

          I think the other main reason that it didn't take off as much was that it required too much local hardware to run well.

          They had an experiment going where the graphics processing was done server side and sent to a web browser. If that had been giver priority, I think that might have actually helped boost popularity greatly.

          As far as nothing to do, there was actually lots of interesting things to do, the problem was much like trying to find some product on Amazon or eBay, searching for something you were interested in, turned up way more junk than good stuff and it took a whole lot of searching to find stuff.

          Pretty much the common lack of vision from the corporate front on what an end user would experience.

          Instead of having a team dedicated to making sure new users could quickly get on and find things they were interested in.

          That and pretty much zero new user support and withdrawing support for the volunteer support community.

          It is a fairly complicated user interface even now.

          1. SundogUK Silver badge

            "...there was actually lots of interesting things to do."

            Like what?

      2. Ken G Silver badge

        Not very far. If there's no competition, why innovate. If it works, why fix it?

  3. Howard Sway Silver badge

    a dead-eyed robot selfie against a landscape of mid-'90s clip art

    This almost makes it sound like it would be fun to have a look at, just to see how awful it is.

    If metaverse users get to create their own spaces, they'll be the equivalent of mid-90s DIY websites that had a homepage that started with 2 lines of bold red text, followed by 2 lines of green text, followed by a line of blue text, followed by a photo of the site author's motorbike. In other words, amusingly crap. I guess that creating original 3D content will be so difficult for most people that there'll have to be a menu of click-and-drag things that you make your own world out of, so that every world looks more or less the same, except one might have a green cartoon steam train chugging through it, and another a blue cartoon steam train. Then, as people get rapidly bored, they'll resort to stupidity, then obscenity.

    The expensively produced corporate spaces will be a waste of money, and never generate more than a small fraction of the sales the easy to use 2D websites do. But unfortunately, that waste of money will have to be recouped by higher prices for us. Hopefully lots of companies realise that it's gonna be shit, and that they can be more competitive if they don't bother with it.

    1. DJO Silver badge

      Re: a dead-eyed robot selfie against a landscape of mid-'90s clip art

      Then, as people get rapidly bored, they'll resort to stupidity, then obscenity.

      "Resort"‽

      If they want market penetration (oo-er) then going straight to porn to mature the technology is probably the only way to succeed.

      1. LDS Silver badge

        "to porn to mature the technology "

        Porn piggybacks on existing technology - doesn't mature anything. It may make some people buy that technology, true - but don't expect that industry invest in its development - they just need something good enough to make losers lose their money, and prefer to spend as little as they can to achieve it - after all is a business built on exploitation... not that much different from Zuck's one.

        1. CRConrad

          Re: "to porn to mature the technology "

          The porn industry has always been (among?) the first to adopt any half-eay usable dissemination technology.

    2. iron Silver badge

      Re: a dead-eyed robot selfie against a landscape of mid-'90s clip art

      Zuck IS a dead-eyed robot so just look at any photo of him in the real world and you'll get the same effect but with a much more realisting backgoround.

    3. Enverex

      Re: a dead-eyed robot selfie against a landscape of mid-'90s clip art

      What do you mean "If metaverse users get to create their own spaces"? This has already been a thing for years on metaverse platforms like VRChat and NeosVR. Tens of thousands of worlds, tens of thousands of avatars and a concurrent userbase creeping up to 100,000 a night.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

    4. nsimic

      Re: a dead-eyed robot selfie against a landscape of mid-'90s clip art

      I liked the title of your comment and fed it into DALL-E:

      https://imgur.com/a/obMlN2k

  4. Paul Crawford Silver badge

    If Faecesbook really still a growth thing?

    On the occasions I log in to an old/limited account it has bugger-all but adverts and a few "friends" ranting bollocks and those I might want to converse with are never on. OK I'm getting on in years, but do the youth of today care for it?

    1. Pete B

      Apparently not so much - 2015 survey showed 70% 13-17 year olds using it, a 2022 survey shows 31% for the same age group. Apparently during the Pandemic all age groups expect for under 23's usage increased. Looking further back suggests it's been in decline with teens/young adults since about 2013.

    2. Andy Non

      It becomes less relevant by the day. I think kids have moved onto more "cooler" social media. I login to facebook occasionally to read new posts in a couple of specialist groups (their old internet forums more or less died and they migrated to facebook).

      The so called news feed is dire. I adblock most of the content but in an attempt to get me to participate more in facebook it spams my feed with countless suggestions for more groups and content that I'm not the least bit interested in. The noise to content ratio has become intolerably high, so facebook is hardly worth visiting any more.

      1. ThatOne Silver badge

        > It becomes less relevant by the day.

        For hipsters, indeed. But I've been told the older demographic has massively taken over, and those are way more reliable and monetizable than some fickle 13-17 year olds. Not only won't they leave on a whim because the cool kids are rumored to be elsewhere, but they also have a lot more money to spend, which makes ads more valuable (expensive).

        I'm afraid Facebook is not going anywhere, if only because it has no real competitor (at least one appealing to all ages and walks of life). MySpace died because everybody left for Facebook, who would people be leaving Facebook for?

        1. Andy Non

          I'm in that older demographic, in my 60's. For me it isn't so much a case of leaving Facebook to go elsewhere, so much as it dwindling in relevance (due to all the Facebook generated spam) to the point I rarely visit. It has got a bit like like live television, too many ads and too much crap so I watch very little live TV now.

          A significant number of family members around my age have migrated to WhatsApp to chat about family stuff and gatherings etc, but I left that group when FB changed the policy to be more data grabbing.

          Not sure who Facebook is aimed at nowadays but there are alternatives out there. I still take part in El-Reg and another specialist forum but that's about all. I'm not interested in sharing the minutia of my life with strangers.

          1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

            >Not sure who Facebook is aimed at nowadays

            Local newspaper. In my sleepy backwater it's yardsales, buy/trade/swap groups, babysitting circles and community groups choir/sportball/dog walking

            So you need to have a throwaway account to find out when the bins are being collected

          2. Scotthva5

            >> I'm not interested in sharing the minutia of my life with strangers.

            That, in a nutshell, is why I've stayed away from almost all forms of social media. If I wanted to know what you ate last night or what film you watched I would ask, I don't need to read about the next day. Years ago B3TA did a "show us your useless inventions" Photoshop challenge and one of the winners was Twitter enabled bog roll. "I'm wiping my ass with Tesco Ultra Soft" is not too far removed from the drivel that populates most Facebook or Twitter feeds.

            1. werdsmith Silver badge

              I dumped Faecebook in 2014 and I do miss the local history group I was involved in. My mother lets me know if anything interesting happens there.

              I abandoned all forms of social media. Social media I define as anything where any random user can create the topics. If social media was unbalkanised then I would consider dipping in again. But while it involves corporations trying to own the web I remain in protest.

          3. jmch Silver badge

            " I left that group when FB changed the policy to be more data grabbing"

            See if you can get your family group to switch to Telegram

            1. iain666

              Even better, use Signal

        2. werdsmith Silver badge

          MySpace died because everybody left for Facebook, who would people be leaving Facebook for?

          The afterlife.

        3. Spazturtle Silver badge

          Having an older demographic has it's own draw backs, there comes a point where the UI gets too complicated and deranged and they will simply refuse to even try using it. Have you seen an older person try and use a 'smart' TV (which seem to be designed to make it as hard as possible to watch broadcast TV on)? One day Facebook will update their UI and people will just give up.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        > The so called news feed is dire. I adblock most of the content but in an attempt to get me to participate more in facebook it spams my feed with countless suggestions for more groups and content that I'm not the least bit interested in. The noise to content ratio has become intolerably high, so facebook is hardly worth visiting any more.

        The F.B. Purity plug-in for Firefox does wonders to filter out much of the garbage that a user sees when going onto FB. If they lard up their Metaverse with the same amount of crud it will be worse than a "Minority Report" nightmare.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      F*ckUBook is nothing more than an idiot proof GUI to the Internet, that and the owner is a rightwing nazi who will sell your personal information to the highest bidder while always looking for new ways to make profits off of stupid peoples worst fears and ideas. Nothing has done more to set civilization back.

      1. SundogUK Silver badge

        Excellent, someone else who agrees that the Democrat Party are the real "rightwing nazi's." That is who Zuckerborg and practically every Meta staffer supports, after all.

  5. Pirate Dave Silver badge
    Pirate

    "It's bad enough on the flat earth of the internet, where we do have the freedom to click away, we can install ad blockers and tracker defeaters, and we can configure our experience, if we choose, as we choose."

    None of that is really guaranteed anymore where the browser is concerned. If you still "have the freedom" to do any of those things, it is purely at Google's or Firefox's discretion - some small porthole of joy that they haven't papered-over yet in their quest to bridle-break us old-timers who remember when browsers were cool and flexible and were built to make browsing easier for the user, not for Google or the egomaniacs at Mozilla. Now it's all about compliance with whatever whims Google is chasing, whatever mandates and directives they are pushing to make life easier for them.

    1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      If only there were browsers other than Chrome and Firefox. Like Pale Moon and Comodo Dragon and Brave and any number of others.

      Yes, non-technical users may not want the (small) cognitive burden of using an alternative browser, or the larger one of tweaking settings and temporarily unblocking things and so forth. But it's certainly possible, particularly for the typical Reg reader.

      1. Pirate Dave Silver badge

        Hardly. I'm currenty on Brave on the PC and Kiwi on the phone. Brave is OK, but there's neither a classic menu bar nor classic status bar that I can find, so that porthole of joy has been completely papered over. And Kiwi is just weird in ways that make me want to smash my phone, but does let me run some extensions that Chrome won't.

        I've been a Pale Moon user pretty much since it came out, but I've temporarily given up on it because so many sites would no longer render over the past 6-8 months (ISTR it was some javascript language construct that a lot of the web frameworks started using that Palemoon hasn't implemented). The update a couple of weeks ago was slightly better, but I still ran into too many sites that wouldn't render to switch back.

        So, no, I don't think you are correct, Michael. Browsers are still their own walled garden in a sense, and I stand by my earlier statements.

        1. Updraft102 Silver badge

          "Brave is OK, but there's neither a classic menu bar nor classic status bar that I can find..."

          Did you look in Vivaldi? That's where they are!

  6. johnnyblaze

    Dead

    If VR had proved wildly successful and every home had a headset or two that were always connected, I'd think, well, maybe. Still a bad idea (being bankrolled by Facebook), but not an outrageous plan. It doesn't though - VR has been tried and tried again, and it's either failed completely, or never got beyond micro-niche. Now, Zuck expects everyone to buy his hardware and them pay him a monthly fee on top, along with whatever micro-transactions he dreams up within his world. Get real. Zuck always wanted to be a real god (he plays at being god inside Meta!), and he desperately wants his virtual currency to be successful (it was killed off in the 'real' world), so he likely sees the metaverse as a route to all that godship. I hope it sinks him, Meta and everything else he touches.

    1. jmch Silver badge

      Re: Dead

      "VR has been tried and tried again, and it's either failed completely, or never got beyond micro-niche"

      There's a very good reason for that, which is that a significant part of the population experience motion-sickness / discomfort nausea immediately, a large part of the population starts to suffer from this (+neckache / eyeache general discomfort from the headset) at anything within a few minutes to a couple of hours. The part of the general population who can take more than a couple of hours of that is actually quite small.

      Compare that to how many people spend 8 hours + staring at a computer screen, some more time staring at a TV screen, and bunch of the time in between staring at their phone screen*.

      VR will only work long-term as a fully immersive experience that can perfectly match sensory experience to visual experience (when these are out of sync it's what causes nausea / motion-sickness). And that, I contend, is impossible short of a Matrix-style plug that directly signals the brain.

      * This, needless to say, is also extremely unhealthy!!!

  7. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

    After years of faffing around

    Zuck seems to be betting it all on VR being the saviour of his fecalbarf network.

    IMHO, VR will have limited appeal to most of us but that might change in time.

    Of course, Zuck's efforts might very well get derailed big time if Apple gets it right compared to FB.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: After years of faffing around

      I heartily approve of Zuckerborg betting it all on VR. There's every chance he could lose.

  8. Downeaster

    E=World

    Sounds something like Apple's failed pnline service of the mid 1990s called eWorld. You connected through software via a modem like AOL and came to a town square kind of place. Then you can go off to places in the town such as shopping, chatting etc. Apple did it first! ;)!

    1. iron Silver badge

      Re: E=World

      No they didn't, they copied Compuserve and AOL. Many years after they were started too.

      Apple have never done anything first.

      1. Alumoi Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: E=World

        Ahem, round corners?

        1. Mark #255
          Joke

          Re: E=World

          >>> Tupperware has entered the chat

          Tupperware: would you like a storage container? Or a lunch box? Beautiful rounded corners, aren't they?

          >>> Tupperware has left the chat

      2. ThomH

        Re: E=World

        > Apple have never done anything first.

        Do you mean other than colour and sound on a home computer?

        Or, more likely, do you mean: since 1977?

        1. ecofeco Silver badge

          Re: E=World

          First color and sound? Atari ST has entered the chat.

          1. werdsmith Silver badge

            Re: E=World

            Atari ST was 1986 I think.

            1. ThomH

              Re: E=World

              The Atari ST was 1985. The Apple II, the first home computer with colour graphics and sound, was 1977.

              The Atari ST offered the first colour desktop GUI, the first < $1000 1mb machine and a bunch of other breakthroughs. Apple didn't offer a colour desktop until the IIgs in 1986, and didn't offer a decent colour desktop until the Mac II in 1987. It continued selling purely-monochrome machines at the entry level until the end of 1990.

              Fun bonus observation: the Atari ST was designed by a team led by Shiraz Shivji, who had previously worked on the Commodore 64, another famous colour-and-audio machine.

              But objectively, here in reality, whether you like the company or not: Apple was first with colour graphics and with audio.

              [if you can forgive that both were painful, being artefact colour and software toggling of a speaker position]

          2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

            Re: E=World

            Atari ST? That wasn't even the first Atari micro that had color and sound; the 400 and 800 came before it.

            The Apple ][ (1977) was probably the first mainstream ("home") microcomputer with color and sound support, since the other two big 1977 micros – the Commodore PET 2001 and Tandy TRS-80 Model 1 didn't have them. The PET could do sound through an optional peripheral but its display was black & white only. The TRS-80 similarly had a monochrome monitor, and could only do sound by plugging appropriate equipment into the output jack on the cassette player.

            The Commodore VIC-20 and Tandy Color Computer weren't released until 1980.

            Of course, you paid for the Apple ]['s color and sound, particularly if you wanted high resolution (such as as it was).

      3. deadlockvictim Silver badge

        Re: E=World

        iron» Apple have never done anything first.

        I have no way of knowing of this statement is true or not.

        What they have done is take technologies that had been up to then poorly adopted and make them mainstream.

        Examples include:

        1. Daisy-chaining peripherals: ADB from 1986 onwards with the Apple IIGS;

        2. SCSI: 1986 - 1999 starting the Macintosh Plus;

        3. FireWire/IEEE 1394: 1998 onwards starting the iMac;

        4. Miniaturising laptop components to make laptops easy to carry: 1991 onwards with the PowerBook 100 series

        5. GUI: Xerox may have invented the GUI but it was Apple that made it a common idea;

        6. USB: 1998 onwards starting the iMac;

        This is what springs to mind now.

        Give credit where credit is due.

        Yes, Apple may have invented little, but their implementation of ideas, hardware & software is the reason why USB is ubiquitous, laptops all look like MacBook Air-wannabes and all personal computers use GUIs, amongst other things.

        1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

          Re: E=World

          their implementation of ideas, hardware & software is the reason why USB is ubiquitous, laptops all look like MacBook Air-wannabes and all personal computers use GUIs, amongst other things

          Reason enough to dislike Apple, in my opinion.

          Miniaturising laptop components to make laptops easy to carry: 1991 onwards with the PowerBook 100 series

          I'm not convinced by this one in particular. (Well, I'm dubious about ADB being particularly interesting, and IEEE 1394 is a whopping great security hole.) IBM had the PC Convertible five years earlier, and the LX40 a year earlier; and they were by no means leaders in the PC-compatible laptop game. "Miniaturizing laptop components" is very vague phrasing; it's not like manufacturers at the time were routinely making them larger.

  9. Shuki26

    It is inevitable and a lot of sci fi movies predicted it well.

    Much stronger computing power, better headsets, 3D projection, holograms. And the masses will desire it to escape their bleak post-smartphone lives.

    1. iron Silver badge

      Re: It is inevitable and a lot of sci fi movies predicted it well.

      Just because it is a sci-fi movie does not mean it's going to happen. That big monolith didn't turn up 20 years ago, in 1997 Skynet didn't destroy humanity (or any of the other dates for Judgement Day) and Snake Pliskin didn't need to escape from New York, etc.

      I saw many things on Tomorrow's World that had (supposedly) working prototypes that never saw the light of day again.

      VR requires shutting yourself off from everyone and everything in the room / house while you use it. You can't use it while keeping an eye on the kids, watching the TV or making dinner. It is not inevitable and will not take off for that reason.

      1. ThatOne Silver badge
        Stop

        Re: It is inevitable and a lot of sci fi movies predicted it well.

        > Just because it is a sci-fi movie does not mean it's going to happen

        Indeed, because there has to be a commercial logic to it. The perfect virtual world like you see it in "Ready Player One" might be (soon-ish) technically possible, except that it doesn't make any commercial sense, because the investment in equipment required would make it totally inaccessible for potential customers.

        And there is the question of profitability: The servers running this would need to be huge, exascale supercomputer level huge, and that costs a lot of money. So how do you recoup your costs and make some profit from kids without money just wanting to hang around in some cool avatar looks?

        Most of you people here work in IT, so just watch "Ready Player One" (it's a nice geek movie) and try to budget the infrastructure needed to build and run that "OASIS" virtual world (hardware, software and operation). I take "Ready Player One" as an example because it depicts an actually quite enticing virtual world. Who would want to spend a fortune in equipment, just to be drowned in ads in some glorified Second Life clone?... Yet that's what Meta is apparently promising us.

        1. J. Cook Silver badge
          Boffin

          Re: It is inevitable and a lot of sci fi movies predicted it well.

          I'm using SecondLife as an example, because I know a little about it's pricing structures at least. (I have no idea how much VRChat runs or the server side infrastructure for it.)

          For second life, if you want 'land' (which here in Meatspace is a slice of compute time on the server that's hosting it, and object storage) you have to pay a fixed amount of virtual (or real) currency a month for it. It's listed as "Maintenance fees". It works out to about $100 USD for a year, IIRC. That's tied to your account, which has a payment method on it. If you want an entire region (which is basically an entire server's worth of land) it's something like $350 a month.

          The client workstation has to be a reasonably modern machine with a reasonably modern graphics card in it.

          VR is... possible, but not officially supported. (There's a mod to use it, although the game itself is not really set up for it.)

    2. Greybearded old scrote Silver badge

      Re: It is inevitable and a lot of sci fi movies predicted it well.

      Just hope it's not the prediction from Star Trek The Cage/The Menagerie.

      1. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Devil

        Re: It is inevitable and a lot of sci fi movies predicted it well.

        nor "The Matrix"

  10. Blackjack Silver badge

    Honesty if the best they can do looks barely better that a Wii game, is kind of funny.

    Half-Life: Alyx is a game that you definitely should get VR to try, is one of the few games that really feels like VR is the true experience.

    Metaverse just feels like Second Life recycled and even the advertising is bad.

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Dollar Store Second Life.

  11. ThatOne Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Unattractive, but at least quite expensive

    > That won't be a place anyone will want to go.

    Indeed, and as I said further up, beyond the pure attractiveness (why would anybody want to go there?), there are also two huge financial barriers, one for the potential clients, and one for Meta.

    Unlike Facebook and other web-based services, potential clients would need to make a huge investment in hardware to use this "Metaverse", which means that people won't buy into it unless it's really, really attractive. And all their pals are there too. Which means only if everybody can afford it, so no $100/hour fees.

    On the servers' side, if you don't want it to be just some glorified Second Life clone with more ads, you need a really expensive infrastructure. So how do you recoup your investment, your operation costs, and also make some profit, all this without making it too expensive for what it is? You can only cram so many ads into it, before people start deciding this isn't a fun place to be.

    Now in reality they seem to go for the "glorified Second Life clone" version, and given the tremendous and lasting success of Second Life, apparently making a more expensive and harder to access version seems to Meta like the obvious thing to do. Well, it' not like they haven't enough money to burn... I'm just happy I'm not a shareholder.

    1. jmch Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: Unattractive, but at least quite expensive

      "On the servers' side, if you don't want it to be just some glorified Second Life clone with more ads, you need a really expensive infrastructure."

      On Facebook it works by getting the users to create the content, and some small %age of Facebook users can actually write interesting posts, produce beautiful photos and well-made videos. Enough for everyone else to be able to get interested, and a low-enough entry barrier that anyone can post or upload a photo.

      Can you imagine what the Metaverse would look like if users were generating any of the surroundings???

      1. ThatOne Silver badge

        Re: Unattractive, but at least quite expensive

        > Can you imagine what the Metaverse would look like if users were generating any of the surroundings???

        Caveat: We're not talking about pictures of your vacation and grandma's recipes anymore, but about a building a heavily scripted real-time CGI environment!

        This would be clearly way too difficult and totally off-putting for all but a handful of hardcore modders, and Meta would still need to supply them with the required tools, both client- and server-side (so still expensive).

        TL;DR: It limits your potential client base to a really tiny group of geeks and entails huge risks (for instance you'll be soon chasing after the flying male appendices unavoidably cropping up sooner or later). Commercially it would make no sense at all.

      2. M.V. Lipvig Silver badge

        Re: Unattractive, but at least quite expensive

        "Can you imagine what the Metaverse would look like if users were generating any of the surroundings???"

        Yes, a nudist colony, but everybody is butt-ugly and nobody knows it because nobody has butts to compare themselves to. Or legs. Or genitals. Which makes being nude pointless.

  12. OhForF'

    FB easy to escape?

    The Facebook service is a valiant effort to rebuild those days, but you can escape those walls with a single click as easily as turning a page in a book.

    I wish it were that simple.

    Never created an account as i actually read their license agreement and found it way beyond what i was willing to accept. I am sure they have a lot of data points about me from friends and relatives - Facebook doesn't care i never gave my consent for any of this.

  13. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge
    Angel

    Relevant

    Today's Penny Arcade has the answer.

  14. ecofeco Silver badge

    How does VR benfit anyone?

    See title.

    When someone, i.e., the masses, sees a benefit to them, they will adopt it. Until them, it's just very expensive wanking.

  15. Jan K. Bronze badge

    "The CEO himself celebrated the launch of Horizon Worlds in Spain and France with an in-world image of a dead-eyed robot selfie against a landscape of mid-'90s clip art."

    I saw that and thought it was a joke.

    Apparently not. It is indeed a joke.

  16. Potemkine! Silver badge

    They may succeed

    There are so many idiots out there they could find enough suckers to go into their dystopian alternate reality.

    Many people prefer the blue pill to the red one.

  17. Grunchy Bronze badge

    Since at least 1992

    I have here before me a prediction about the future, published in 1992 as “Popcorn Report” by a futurist known as Faith Popcorn. One future trend to be aware of, she contended, was “cocooning,” wherein you shop from the comfort of your own home (using some kind of computerized order catalog) and later have your orders delivered to and deposited at your house. She also predicted the “Security-Screen,” a hand-held remote control unit that will guard your front door, watch over your baby, scan the grounds, give you messages, and even turn off the pot roast! Cellular telephone? She didn’t go that far, but she did hit most of the typical home-control applications.

    But she also gives an in-depth description of a “virtual reality supermarket”: some call it cyberspace, others call it artificial reality. What virtual reality is, is a technology that makes it possible to synthesize a world — a 3-dimensional, touchable, feelable, hearable, visible, interactive world — through computer-generated images and sensation. To enter this world, a person puts on some special clothing (at the time of 1992 this consisted of gloves and goggles) that gets connected to a computer the experts are calling a Home Reality Engine.

    And because it’s a VR supermarket, what will we be doing in cyberspace? We will be shopping to buy things!

    Back in 1992 this all belonged to VPL Research of Redwood City, California, or you could also say this was all demonstrated in 1992 “Lawnmower Man” by Stephen King.

  18. Darkcloud

    I find navigating the real world a bit hard at times... I have absolutely no interest in charting the waters of a "virtual" one...

  19. KBeee Silver badge

    This is only Part One

    Mega Corp Strategy. A Cunning Plan devised by Baldrick

    Part One - Create a crappy VR world.

    Part Two - Make Real World so shitty everyone will migrate to VR world.

  20. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

    CompuServe didn't rule the world before Eternal September

    anyone online in the CompuServe years knows what it was like when the internet became an option

    The big dial-up walled-services providers – CompuServe, AOL, Prodigy, and no doubt some others I'm forgetting – weren't the only game in town even well before Internet access started becoming available to the masses. There were a great many independent BBSes, and they were widely used, even by relatively non-technical users.

    Wikipedia cites a 1994 (note that's just after Eternal September) Infoworld article: "there were 60,000 BBSes serving 17 million users in the United States alone in 1994, a collective market much larger than major online services such as CompuServe".

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    2022 Metaguard - 2008 TrackmeNot

    Nair & Song 2022 Metaguard

    " first known method of implementing an "incognito mode" for VR. Our technique leverages local ε-differential privacy to quantifiably obscure sensitive user data attributes, with a focus on intelligently adding noise when and where it is needed most to maximize privacy while minimizing usability impact."

    https://github.com/metaguard/metaguard

    Heir to NYU Nissenbaum 2008 TrackmeNot https://trackmenot.io/

    "TrackMeNot runs as a low-priority background process that periodically issues randomized search-queries to popular search engines, e.g., AOL, Yahoo!, Google, and Bing. It hides users' actual search trails in a cloud of 'ghost' queries, significantly increasing the difficulty of aggregating such data into accurate or identifying user profiles. TrackMeNot serves as a means of amplifying users' discontent with advertising networks that not only disregard privacy, but also facilitate the bulk surveillance agendas of corporate and government agencies, as documented recently in disclosures by Edward Snowden and others. To better simulate user behavior TrackMeNot uses a dynamic query mechanism to 'evolve' each client (uniquely) over time, parsing the results of its searches for 'logical' future query terms with which to replace those already used."

  22. teknopaul Silver badge

    Why metaverse?

    Zuck, while young and foolish, agreed to give away 99% of his wealth when he died to good causes :so he is trying to spank it all on vanity projects while he is still alive.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You don't want to go there

    But you WILL. Well, certainly, you don't have to shop in a virtual tesco, you can grow your own food. You don't have to take a (discounted, one-off special offer) holiday to those exotic virtual places, you can close your eyes and work them lest few grey cells. You don't have to be report a crime in virtual reality, you can wait for the plod forever already.

    And why would you want virtual holiday when you can travel in REAL world? Sure you can. For as long as you can afford to.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Congiverse only, пожалуйсте ся

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