In 1992 when he published the novel Snow CrashNeal Stephenson coined the term “metaverse.” In 2021, the author decided he had a choice: “Basically either go off and become the metaverse hermit, or try to make something of it,” as he told ZDNET Editor in Chief Jason Hiner.

Also: Meet the companies that will shape the metaverse

Stephenson spoke to Hiner at CES in Las Vegas about his plans to influence the creation of the metaverse with the launch of the startup Lamina1. The startup is building a Layer 1 blockchain to provide a platform on which others can build an open metaverse.

“The idea is basically that if we’re going to have a metaverse that millions of people use, there’s going to have to be experiences there that people enjoy having,” Stephenson said.

Currently, the developers most familiar with building immersive experiences — the kind you would expect in the metaverse — are in the gaming industry. That’s who Lamina1 is consulting with now.

“We’ve been talking to people we know who are in that industry… and use those tool chains every day about what it is that they would like to see,” Stephenson said. Lamina1 is consulting with them on the sort of blockchain-based services, he said, “that would make their lives easier, make their businesses hopefully more profitable.”

Also: How the metaverse will change the future of work and society

Why is Lamina1 dedicated to laying the foundation for an open metaverse?

“If you think about the way that the internet works, the World Wide Web is an inherently open kind of standard,” Stephenson said. “There’s a open protocol that was published. There are closed-source things that exist on the internet — and people have made a lot of money off of those — but fundamentally the reason it grew fast and a lot of people adopted it was because there was a set of open standards that anybody could tap into and use to make content.

“So it seems plausible,” he continued, “to think that what worked in the case of the internet and the World Wide Web could work again in the case of an open metaverse.”

Blockchain, he said, has significant overlap with some of the functionality needed to build an open metaverse — features such as the ability to scale payments, or the ability to keep track of who’s using your IP.

Also: The metaverse security threats have already arrived

“I think some of the empowerment of creators that was lost in Web2 we may be able to recover in Web3 if we structure these things in a way that’s more aware of the requirements of individual creators,” Stephenson said.

See the entire interview in the video embedded above or on ZDNET’s YouTube channel.

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