|patrice riemens on Sun, 31 Oct 2021 11:54:30 +0100 (CET)|
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|Re: <nettime> meta(verse)|
On 10/29/2021 1:40 PM Felix Stalder <email@example.com> wrote:
I'm sure most of you have heard by now that Facebook is renaming itself"Meta" and promoting a platform called "Metaverse", basically, a shared,but heavily customizable VR/AR world.
If you haven't seen the video from the keynote, have look. You won't beable to get through the entire 80-minute show (I tried, and failed) buthere are a few minutes to get the flavor of how dated this future feels.There is nothing in there that you couldn't do in Second Life and iteven looks pretty much the same.
The best way to feel of the emptiness of the vision is probably througha series of super-cuts of the most frequently doled out platitudes:experience, the physical world, commerce/community, the future, and afew more.
The sheer backwardness and ugliness of the entire vision are depressingno matter whether you look at it from an aesthetic, social, or economicperspective. And all of this is made worse by the company's track recordon these things so far.
The plan is pretty obviously a land grab by the company but the curiousthing is why they believe that such land would exist in the first place.
This happens exactly at a moment when the political class seems to havegiven up preventing global heating to pass dangerous tipping points ofno return. So, this is clearly meant to paper over an increasinglydystopian world to keep selling the promise of "creativity" and"self-_expression_" as a carrot, and a "new economy" as a stick. WithUber's and Airbnb's promise to monetize your spare resources as a way todeal with real-life precarity ringing hollow (indeed, monetizing yourlife _is_ precarity), the new economy of 3D creators is another promiseto pull yourself up on your own bootstraps.
But is not just the dated dream of virtual reality replacing physicalreality. What's more, chasing this dream will make physical reality evenworse. For a lot of reasons, waste of resources, diverting attentiontowards crap, universalizing bias, and so on.
Underlying all of this is this notion of the world as a model. Sure, weall operate with (implicit or explicit) models of the world in order tomake sense of it and be able to act in it. I'm not advocating for somesort of unmediated "real".
The problematic element is to have a single model which is supposed toreplace all others. It's not just that such a model is necessarily undercomplex (the metaverse is cartoonishly so), but that very notion of asingle model is biased, violent, and will create ugly backlashes.Perhaps this is the lasting influence of cybernetics, which as itsultimate horizon has such a unified vision where everything could bebrought into its purview based on the reductionist notion of "information".
Against this, a plethora of voices -- feminist, anti-racist, ecological,indigenous, and more -- have sprung up to argue against theimpossibility of such a unified view (often denounced as colonialist).They advocate for the co-existence of a wide range of"being-in-the-world", each embodying a different model of the world, ifyou will, that cannot be flattened into a single one. Rather, theyretain a considerable degree of incommensurability (the tick sees theworld like no other living being, as J.v.Uxeküll argued as early as the1930s) that can only be brought into one to the other through practicesof mutual respect (because one can never fully grasp or contain theother) and care (because each model/world is in itself incomplete anddepended on others as environment).
Against this life-affirming irreducible complexity that escapescybernetic control is the sad vision of the metaverse, which is bothextremely reductionist and centrally controlled. Yet, even in its mostglossy presentation, this vision is utterly unconvincing. Perhaps thisis a reason to be optimistic and continue to seek ways beyond"communication and control".
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