Mez Breeze on Tue, 2 Nov 2021 00:26:01 +0100 (CET)

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Re: <nettime> meta(verse)

"Any extant or future renderings of Augmented and/or Virtual and/or Integrated Reality representations in the Overlaid Space will be regulated by the Overlaid Space Colonisers, and hence, restricted. Any INDIVIDUALS, ENTITIES, CORPORATIONS, ORGANISATIONS, COUNTRIES, TERRITORIES, MUNICIPALITIES, GOVERNMENTS, GOVERNMENT SUBDIVISIONS and all and any INSTITUTIONS who intend on utilising any Augmented and/or Virtual and/or Integrated Reality Technology in the Overlaid Space must apply for an appropriate Overlaid Space Lease Certificate. Eligibility for allocation of Overlaid Space Lease Certificates will be assessed by the Overlaid Space Colonisers in accordance with all regulations in effect under this Geospatial and Mixed-Locative Colonisation Act."

[From: T[he]Issue: The Geospatial and Mixed-Locative Colonisation Act of 2014 originally commissioned by Julian Stadon/Furtherfield for the Beyond the Interface Exhibition, 2014 International Symposium on Mixed and Augmented Reality, Germany.]

On Fri, Oct 29, 2021 at 10:41 PM Felix Stalder <> 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 be
able to get through the entire 80-minute show (I tried, and failed) but
here 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 it
even looks pretty much the same.

The best way to feel of the emptiness of the vision is probably through
a series of super-cuts of the most frequently doled out platitudes:
experience, the physical world, commerce/community, the future, and a
few more.

The sheer backwardness and ugliness of the entire vision are depressing
no matter whether you look at it from an aesthetic, social, or economic
perspective. And all of this is made worse by the company's track record
on these things so far.

The plan is pretty obviously a land grab by the company but the curious
thing 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 have
given up preventing global heating to pass dangerous tipping points of
no return. So, this is clearly meant to paper over an increasingly
dystopian world to keep selling the promise of "creativity" and
"self-_expression_" as a carrot, and a "new economy" as a stick. With
Uber's and Airbnb's promise to monetize your spare resources as a way to
deal with real-life precarity ringing hollow (indeed, monetizing your
life _is_ precarity), the new economy of 3D creators is another promise
to pull yourself up on your own bootstraps.

But is not just the dated dream of virtual reality replacing physical
reality. What's more, chasing this dream will make physical reality even
worse. For a lot of reasons, waste of resources, diverting attention
towards crap, universalizing bias, and so on.

Underlying all of this is this notion of the world as a model. Sure, we
all operate with (implicit or explicit) models of the world in order to
make sense of it and be able to act in it. I'm not advocating for some
sort of unmediated "real".

The problematic element is to have a single model which is supposed to
replace all others. It's not just that such a model is necessarily under
complex (the metaverse is cartoonishly so), but that very notion of a
single model is biased, violent, and will create ugly backlashes.
Perhaps this is the lasting influence of cybernetics, which as its
ultimate horizon has such a unified vision where everything could be
brought 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 the
impossibility 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, if
you will, that cannot be flattened into a single one. Rather, they
retain a considerable degree of incommensurability (the tick sees the
world like no other living being, as J.v.Uxeküll argued as early as the
1930s) that can only be brought into one to the other through practices
of mutual respect (because one can never fully grasp or contain the
other) and care (because each model/world is in itself incomplete and
depended on others as environment).

Against this life-affirming irreducible complexity that escapes
cybernetic control is the sad vision of the metaverse, which is both
extremely reductionist and centrally controlled. Yet, even in its most
glossy presentation, this vision is utterly unconvincing. Perhaps this
is a reason to be optimistic and continue to seek ways beyond
"communication and control".

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