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What will be after social media? CompuServe, Ultima Online, virtual reality and blockchain-based economies

Decentraland

Look, this article is going to take a sneak peek into the “not too distant future” and what is in store for us after Facebook and Co.

Be prepared for a quick history lesson followed by ideas on how gaming, virtual reality, business, and social media will come together in a decentralized digital universe.

While most of you will not be willing to come on this journey with me, if I can only reach a handful of people, I would be stoked.

Let’s start.

Flashback.

Back in 1995, just when we started using dial-up modems to access the internet, the first service that was available was CompuServe and it was pretty much the only place to go for non-geeks. It was a service controlled by one company and it did not resemble the internet as we know it today.

Remember, there were not too many www websites around back then.

CompuServe was later taken over by AOL as it was the place to be for social interaction and basic publishing on the “internet”. Little did they now how decentralized the internet would become.

But there was 1 distinct feature CompuServe had to offer that really got me hooked.

It was an avatar-based world. You could navigate your character in that very basic virtual world and interact.

Fast forward 1 year.

Ultima Online, the probably most important multi-player role-playing online game, before World of Warcraft, came out.

Everyone who did have the budget to pay expensive hourly internet usage rates was hooked. It was a global game with thousands of users playing on dozens of servers around the world.

The special thing about it?

It had a real economy within the game and it was without forced gameplay which means that you did not *have to do anything. Some people were never actually fighting monsters or each other but produced goods traded real estate and decorated their houses. The game was very often played by grown-ups and was very popular up until 2006 or so.

And then there was nothing that attracted my attention in that area for a very long time. Most games were aimed at kids and it was all about gameplay, something I cared little about. I was interested in a virtual world with an economy.

There was a world called 2life that also had a currency and some major media exposure… but it was too demanding on the hardware and frankly speaking, it was just boring.

Fast forward to 2016.

Early adopters started to experiment with VR glasses.

People wondered what would be after social media, especially with Facebook usage declining and new generations switching over to Instagram and Snapchat. But what would be next?

Many were convinced it was going to be virtual reality.

But the hardware was not affordable, quickly obsolete and there was no “killer app” that would drive adoption, (yet).

Fast forward to 2017.

A bull market in cryptocurrencies catapults the Bitcoin brand into the mainstream media and along with it the so-called blockchain technology.

The key feature of blockchain technology is the capability of creating digital scarcity with the help of the decentralized database technology.

The introduction of digital scarcity allowed for digital goods and digital currencies to exist and accrue value. This was not really possible before. A new era was about to begin.

Fast forward to 2020.

It is all coming together now.

What if there was a digital world, that would be accessible with and without pricy virtual reality gear, with its own currency and economy, that has a direct relationship to fiat currencies, and with limited virtual land resources that could be owned and traded. What if its governance would be steered by its members in a decentralized, democratic manner? And what if the platform would be based on open-source principles, open for developers?

For me, that would be something like CompuServe, Ultima Online, Virtual Reality and Blockchain-based economics mashed into 1 platform.

Well, this platform exists now.

https://decentraland.org/

It is in its infancy but we all know how quickly things change.

Is this going to be the killer app that will drive the adoption of virtual reality? I don’t know.

But it is clear to me what is likely to come after Facebook and Co.