Body:  OK, let’s close our eyes and imagine a scenario, both wonderful, and daunting.   Here we go.  You are running a very successful manufacturing plant in the U.S.   You make heavy pieces of railway infrastructure, and your business is booming.    On a vacation with your family, as you are desperately trying to remember their names, you are  taking in the sites of  Poland., and you see a manufacturing plant doing the same type of work, only better and it turns out cheaper.  You do some investigating with your legal team, and come to find out that there is a new owner, the grandson of the founder, and he wants OUT!!    So, he agrees to license to you for very little, the technology that made his family so fabulously wealthy, and you happily nap later, dreaming about the stacks of cash you will have to find homes for.   Only, there are 2 snags.   First, you forgot that European rails are of one gauge, and the U.S. rails are of a slightly different gauge.  You shrug, figure that your shop foreman can translate, and roll in your slumber.   But then the other shoe drops.   All of their apparatus, tools, procedures, protocols, everything are denoted in metric measurement,   Your people are all trained on U.S. measures.  Your  dreams of profitability might’ve been de-railed.

The different metaverses are somewhat similar.  The local currencies function differently, the character development is very different, and the ability to develop new items are at very different levels of difficulty.  This is why the question of interoperability is so important, so that the currency, characters and items can be ported from one metaverse to another.   But, to do this, there needs to be a common infrastructure underlying all of these items.  Developing this common infrastructure is why the Metaverse Standards Forum exists.  Let’s chug along and  perhaps see the end of the line.  (OK, I’ll stop with the train jokes, but, I really am rolling.)

So, OK, what IS the metaverse?

Simple answer is nobody can really define it: In point of fact, the members of MSF have a very active debate raging on this very elementary principle.  It should be a fully immersive space where one can see and hear (and eventually smell?) things that are not physically in the room with them.  Currently, the environments are not totally immersive but instead, are on a continuum, but each one is very siloed off from one another.   The Internet became so engrained in our lives because it was not walled off from one app to another, so to reach their imagined endpoint, the perfect world would all emanate from one point, and be freely navigated from world to world.  This runs counter to some visions of the future, so, we shall see  (and feel, and smell?)

What is the Metaverse Standards Forum?

OK, just a little reminder.  In this case, Metaverse Standards Forum (MSF) is what we’re talking about, not Medcins sans Frontiers (Translated Doctors Without Borders).   This is important to understand because this very generous organization is also abbreviated MSF.     Our MSF is an organization (of private companies, chiefly) that work together to institute a common infrastructure of code and  protocol, with the aim of accelerating the development of the whole gamut of metaverses.  Activities are sponsored by the Khronos Group.     I won’t bore you with the entire list of projects, but, when it becomes obvious that some standard has to be set for something, MSF starts a project on that area.  For example,  MSF might decide that common protocols have to be set up to take care of Digital Asset Management.    MSF puts together a Working Group to investigate that process, with the end result is a recommended common  protocol.    In their efforts to understand this process, the Working Group might sponsor hackathons to learn about what works and doesn’t work, on an accelerated timeline.  There are some truly HUGE companies supplying talent to MSF, but oddly, Apple has decided not to participate.  But, there must be a reason because, a few other suspects (Roblox and Decentraland among them) have made a similar decision.

All this sounds great!  Where’s the controversy?

Well, it does sound good, but there is politics to consider.   One of the companies to participate in MSF is Huweiwei, the Chinese company that makes 5G components for the Internet, probably really important to the future of metaverses.   But, some think that the company is part and parcel of the Communist government in China, and will not want to participate for that reason.

So, who’s getting the most right, right now?  Who is lagging, right now?

It would appear that, right now, the most immersive environment is the Omniverse, which is an environment designed by Nvidia.  Currently, it is being used to program autonomous vehicles, and will hopefully help to predict weather patterns, especially as they relate to global warming.     Meta, (f.k.a. Facebook)   has made a lot of vague promises, but not too much has come to fruition.

The Verdict

When we first got the “Internet” it was filtered thru the lens of an ISP, either AOL, or one of the other providers.  Unsurprisingly, some of the details of how things were presented were different from network to network, each one was its own “walled garden.”   As the Internet evolved, the different views of it began to be more uniform.  I think the metaverse will likely follow a similar model.   Right now, each one is a siloed area, which is somewhat OK (in many cases) presenting information to the user.   But, in the future, I think that all of these individual metaverses will begin to speak with each other, and the environment of the place will begin to be more and more immersive.  The question I think we have to ask is how immersive do we really want to have this metaverse?  Could it grow and develop to be so convincing ( and attractive) that people don’t want to leave, and eventually forget to eat, or drink water?  Sounds kind of ridiculous, but these are valid questions that we must ask ourselves.  The MSF will likely not approach these very difficult subjects, but they will hopefully, provide us with a language with which we can all better communicate during the intense debates.


Microsoft, Meta, and others are founding a metaverse open standards group – The Verge

Meta and other tech giants form metaverse standards body, without Apple | Reuters

The Critical Importance of the Metaverse Standards Forum (technewsworld.com)

Editor’s Note: Please note that the information contained herein is meant only for general education: This should not be construed as Tax Advice.   Personal attributes could make a material difference in the advice given, so, before taking action, please consult your tax advisor or CPA.


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