Learning in the Metaverse, Generation X, NFT utility and the search for experience

If you were born between 1978-1985 then you are in a very enviable, or downright horrible position – depending on how you view the human experience, technology, the Metaverse, NFTs, blockchain gaming, the existential internet and… Stoner Cats and Jpegs of rocks.
Those born in this little watershed period of existence are straddling the precipice of a moment in time, which, barring the apocalypse, will never come again. As such, it has given these curious beings the magical power of knowing life both before and after the internet became ubiquitous and the spectre of a weakened attention span (they are not immune to this phenomenon, of course) became the norm; before a quarter of the globe was a signed up member of MySpace (the accounts are still out there), Facebook (too many embarrassing moments on the Facebook servers), SnapChat (too old), Tik-Tok (it’s a cool SnapChat of sorts, my videos are naff, but I’m in. I use the word naff.), Axie-Infinity (?) or whatever the platform of the moment happens to be.

You were able to use landmarks to meet people, maps to navigate, and based your self-worth on something other than the abstract numbers which give value to too many. That is not to say that the old times were better, or the kids of today ‘don’t know how good they have it’, but rather you have a benchmark which other generations do not have. How you use this knowledge is up to you.

It’s like if a tweet gets retweeted a couple of hundred times, that must mean that my thoughts are worthy. If my Facebook photo is ‘liked,’ that must mean I am good looking. One of the things that concern me about a media diet that is overly online is that we lose the ability to decide for ourselves what we think about who we are. – Michael Harris

I’m speaking about this because, due to a lapse in global time zones and a weakened pre-frontal cortex due to excess time buying up land in Decentraland and battling Axies for love potion and clicking refresh on the CoinMarketCap to see if ADA was doing cartwheels across the fabric of the fabric of cryptocurrencies and making sure rising flood waters hadn’t washed away our Trezor hard wallets which we’d buried in the garden, The Valuart Podcast was without a guest this week – a guest we were very excited about speaking to, and someone we will reorganise for the coming weeks.

Consequently, we ended up speaking about generation X and generation Y and Millennials and the Metaverse and digital detoxes and how much screen time is too much screen time. We also spoke about children, the educational benefits of the Metaverse, AR and the unstoppable barrage of technology on our lives. As you do on a Thursday morning when you are passionate about the Metaverse, futurism and NFTs.

NFT collections and the experiences money can’t buy

However, before all of that, we launched into a conversation about the utility of NFT collections and whether they go beyond the walls of Avatar use and nice Jpegs. Were any of the collections lambasting Twitter with polygon graphics offering their owners anything tangible, in the real life sense of the word?

For the briefest of moments we let the cost spiral propagated by hype – a hype I honestly don’t think humanity has ever experienced before, and I include post-modernist fashion in that – take a back seat. We let the $1.3 million paid out for an Ether Rock slink quietly past the windows of our collective podcast consciousness. We didn’t bat an eyelid at the record breaking figures CryptoPunks unleashed on us this week (again!). No, we wanted to know if NFT collections gave opportunities for experiences which money couldn’t buy.

It turned out Tesla were launching an NFT and a signed (by space cowboy Elon) model Tesla. Corny, but still a real object which you can crash into the wall. It still has his signature on it. It has real world value to a great deal of people. Not much, but a start.

More interesting (to those born on the aforementioned internet/no internet cusp at least), is the NFT skateboard project from Streetart. Their website has a UFO, Day-Glo skateboards and the tagline – sidewalk to cyberspace. What more could you want? The artistic aesthetic aside, Street Art are posing the same question as Damien Hirst with his Currency NFT project: Which is more valuable, the NFT or the real art associated to it? AS in currency where buyers of Damien Hirst’s work can choose the ‘real’ art or the NFT version, with the StreetArt project collectors can choose to have the skateboard (the NFT is burned) and, you know, go and skateboard.

As you can see from this, we didn’t find much in the way of real life experiences connected to NFT collections, which led us on to brand opportunities to use this much maligned upside of the NFT.

Marketing and brand opportunities in the Metaverse

There is huge opportunity here. It’s half seven on a Friday evening, the kids have been playing pinball in the bath with next door’s wheel barrow for two hours and I can still come up with a thousand ideas brands looking to pivot into NFTs and the Metaverse, re-channel their marketing budget, knockdown their flagship store on the Champs Élysées (Cartier, I’m looking at you) and rebuild in Decentraland, can use.

Football teams could launch NFT collections which involve a 5 a-side with the team. Fashion brands could send real clothes when certain in-game NFTs are purchased for the living, breathing avatars players use to explore the Metaverse. Where are the celebrity chefs with NFT collections offering dining experiences not available anywhere else? Where are the car companies offering driving experiences, or the trainer brands offering limited addition shoes you can’t get without the NFT? Admittedly I don’t have so many ideas brands could use for their NFT projects – please leave your ideas in the comments below.

The Metaverse is not yet here

The Metaverse is not here. Repeat. The Metaverse is not here. Which doesn’t mean it isn’t coming, or that the current incarnation of the internet and the technologies and services which swirl around it, and the cryptocurrencies and blockchains on which it will be built and paid for, aren’t undergoing tremendous change, because they are.

At least according to this generation-X, old-fashioned futurist.

However, concerts are better in real life. Every sport, meal and facetoface connection is, certain conditions aside, better in real life. Whether it will remain like that is open to debate and involve philosophical debate on the nature of humanity and the consciousness and how we experience reality. A tweet or LinkedIn post will not, I’m afraid, suffice. For mainstream adoption to be about more than the financial upside of flipping an NFT or the per year interest on holding a digital asset, real life experiences need to be added to the mix in a much more thought out way. The long run for the Metaverse and the short term experience for humanity do not have to be born of the same goal. At least according to this generation-X, old-fashioned futurist.

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Education and learning in the Metaverse

The educational possibilities within the Metaverse are the most striking and powerful use-cases for the progression of the technology. 72 million children who should be in primary school aren’t. 759 million adults are illiterate. Further millions have their education cut short, manipulated, and controlled by nefarious actors. Education is the route to increased wellbeing, higher standards of living, I don’t need to go on…education = life, and the Metaverse can improve it without end.

The dropping costs of mobile and the AR possibilities are mind-bending. Imagine a child in New Delhi, Burundi, Haiti or Malawi sitting in a Decentraland school, a redbrick university or the reading room of the New York Library. Take it further and imagine being taught science on the rings of Saturn, archaeology in the deep excavation pits of Egypt, biology in the rain forest, coding in CERN, English in the ye olde’ England. On and on it goes, the scope of education and learning in the Metaverse is infinite.

The Metaverse is such a great learning tool because learning is about experience; it’s about connecting points in time and forming a latticework around the knowledge it instills. If you want to learn a new word, you live a collection of experiences which link to that work. Then, in the future, when you want to recall it you have more ‘points’ to access. In general you learn quicker, more deeply and have more interest in visual representation. The Metaverse is the ultimate visual representation. Via AR on mobile it will be cheap, universal and vital to the continued improvement of the human race. Quite a conclusion to reach, I’m sure you’ll agree.

Next week on the Valuart Podcast

Normal programming will be resumed next week. We have some very special guests lined up from a very unique NFT collection. Head to our social channels to get updates.

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