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Neal Stephenson‘s Lamina1 blockchain technology startup dropped a white paper today on building the open metaverse. It’s quite the manifesto.
In the document, the company said its mission is to deliver a Layer 1 blockchain, interoperating tools and decentralized services optimized for the open metaverse –– providing communities with infrastructure, not gatekeepers to build a more immersive internet. (Stephenson will be talking about the open metaverse in a fireside chat at our GamesBeat Summit Next 2022 event on October 25-26 in San Francisco. Use Dean50 code for a discount).
The effort includes some new original content: Under active early-stage development, Neal Stephenson’s THEEE METAVERSE promises a richly-imagined interactive virtual world with an unforgettable origin story, the paper said. Built on the Lamina1 chain, creators will come to experience Neal’s vision and stay to develop their own. Stay tuned for more details, the paper said.
Lamina1 said the metaverse represents the evolution of our lives online –– graduation to rich 2D and 3D worlds in which we fluidly create, explore, socialize and transact. As we usher in this bold new era of content creation and participation, we must revisit the centralized business models of Web2 to empower
creators and consumers with greater agency, ownership and privacy. A creative community that is free to innovate and transact will give rise to a thriving economy. Lamina1 delivers critical infrastructure to
enable the trillion-dollar economy of the open metaverse.
“The strength of the Lamina1 technical foundation will be validated by the ability of our very own maker, Neal Stephenson, to deliver his inspired and principled vision of what the Open Metaverse can be. We employ story as a powerful tool to contextualize and drive the creative and technical development required to build a virtual universe imbued with humanity,” the white paper said.
In the paper, Stephenson said, “Inexorable economic forces drive investors to pay artists as little as possible while steering their creative output in the directions that involve the least financial risk.”
The aim is to correct the sins of the past. The paper said that Web2 introduced a period of rapid innovation and unprecedented access to entertainment, information and goods on a global scale. Streamlined tools and usability brought creators and innovators to the web en masse to build digital
storefronts, engage and transact with their customers.
Owning and controlling that growing ecosystem of content and personal data became a primary, lucrative initiative for major corporations. Consumer behavior, recorded on centralized company servers, offered constant, privileged insight into how to monetize human emotion and attention, Lamina1 said.
The sins included:
- Digital disruption, followed by corporate opportunism, reset the value of creative IP and negatively impacted the creative process
- Agencies and intermediaries siphoned revenue from makers
- Data was harvested, sold, commoditized and misused
- Naivety and convenience were exploited
- Family photos became session bait for an insatiable ad model
At its best, Web3 envisions a better world through the thoughtful redesigning of our online lives, instituting stronger advocacy for our interests, our freedom and our rights, the company said. Much as Web2 flourished with the maturity of tools and services that offered creators and consumers ease of use, the open metaverse will benefit from open protocols for payments and data, and a set of interoperating decentralized services to support virtual worlds. Lamina1 will be the rallying point for an ecosystem of open source tools, open standards and enabling technologies conceived and co-developed with a vibrant community of creators.
“We are makers. We are builders,” the company said. “We are passionate about the potential of Lamina1 to change the way we make and monetize the next generation of content, and we share the needs and interests of our fellow Open Metaverse enthusiasts. We invite you to join us in building the most powerful network of creative people on the planet.”
The report noted the progress of games toward the metaverse with hundreds of millions going online. Worldwide, spending on virtual goods reached an estimated $110 billion in 2021, with nearly 30% attributed to the virtual outfitting of our virtual selves. It also gave a nod to McKinsey, which predicted that the metaverse will have a $5 trillion value by 2030.
At the same time, Lamina1 said we’ve witnessed an empowering movement among creators and consumers concerning data privacy, transaction and asset ownership. The near-ceaseless news of data misuse is driving new consumer awareness of the liberal data and privacy practices of mega-platforms. Those using these services are increasingly becoming aware (and wary) of how their virtual identities will be stored, tracked, and commoditized online –– with 74% of U.S. internet users saying they are more
concerned about their online privacy than they have been at any point in time.
Further, Lamina1 said that in a world where today’s biggest platforms propose to take nearly half of all
sales revenues on digital assets and experiences made by creators in the metaverse, many are looking for alternative pathways to monetization and publishing in this new online era. Case and point — the past two years have seen unprecedented growth in Web3, with creators turning to NFTs to provide them direct access to their markets. In 2021, collectors sent over $41 billion to online marketplaces and more than $37 billion in the first half of 2022. Ethereum’s ability to provide Web3 features to creators (though limited), alongside security and anonymity for consumers, expanded the market nearly 200x between 2020 and 2021, with NFT sales skyrocketing from $100 million to $18 billion. Last year, the direct marketplace OpenSea drove nearly 60% of those transactions, but NFTs are also increasingly being used to create and monetize entire virtual worlds.
To fully realize the needs and intricacies of an ever-expanding metaverse, the next era of digital ownership will need to include deeper integrations of persistent digital objects, virtual real estate and interoperability services that expand upon the basics and have direct consideration of the needs of those building it, Lamina1 said. As this new digital economy crystallizes, so does the potential to reimagine the financial systems and foundational structures that fuel it. In its early stages, the success of this movement
depends on the conviction of companies, creators and consumers to demand something different.
Lamina1 said it approaches the open metaverse with a multi-pronged approach: Layer 1 blockchain, metaverse-as-a-Service (MaaS), community economic participation and incentives and original content.
Lamina1 said it uses a high-speed Proof-of-Stake (PoS) consensus algorithm, customized to support the needs of content creators –– providing provenance for creatorship and enabling attributive and behavioral characteristics of an object to be minted, customized and composed on-chain.
“We chose to start with Avalanche, a robust generalized blockchain that delivers the industry’s most scalable and environmentally-efficient chain for managing digital assets to date. This starting point provides Lamina1 with a flexible architecture and an extendable platform to support our goals in data storage, interoperability, integration incentives, carbon-negative operation, messaging, privacy, high-scale payments and identity,” the white paper said.
Lamina1 said its metaverse services work will explore creating a metaverse browser and it will align itself with the Metaverse Standards Forum.
To enlist community support, the company isn’t aligning with Big Tech.
“We march waving the pirate flag at the front of the cultural movement, asking both creators and consumers to join the fight for greater agency and ownership –– the fight for an economy that is imagined, produced and owned by its creators,” Lamina1 said. “It’s going to be hard, and it’s going to take heart, but the upside of providing a maker direct access to their market is staggering.”
The paper added, “At Lamina1, we believe two things will power expansion and growth in the metaverse
–– a straightforward and principled approach to serving a diverse, open and self-sustaining community of makers, and a powerful ecosystem of content and experiences that will drive fans and funding directly to the platform.”
As for the roadmap, the company revealed the following, subject to change:
- V1 Litepaper Release September 2022
- Engine/web SDK & Wallet Alphas October 2022
- Testnet November 2022
- Browser MVPAlpha December 2022
- EVM + ⍺ December 2022
- Initial Studio Demos December 2022
- Engine/web SDK & wallet Betas January 2023
- Blockchain Recompose January 2023
- Original Game Pre-Production Begins Q1 2023
- Betanet Q1 2023
- MaaS MVPAlpha Q1 2023
- Studio Launches Q2/3 2023
- Mainnet Q2/3 2023
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