Morfternight #58: We live in the Metaverse

🤩 Welcome to the three new Morfternighters who joined us last week.
We love to have you here, and I hope you’ll enjoy reading Morfternight.
If you do, remember to share with a friend by clicking on this button.

📷 Photo of the week

Star – More Photos

👋 I’m back!

Back home, that is, but also back to having more time for Morfternight. 

Flying from Vienna to Denver and returning was the usual mix of wonder and pain.

It’s increasingly painful because, since the pandemic, airlines have been trying to squeeze every penny out of their planes. They have reduced the number of flights, and although there are fewer travelers than before, there are also fewer flights, and planes are packed to the brink with people. The upside is that each passenger’s carbon footprint is probably a bit lower, so I won’t complain.

It remains a wonderful experience nonetheless.

The fact that it is possible to wake up on a Saturday morning and have breakfast at home with my family, then share a meal with a few friends in Denver on Saturday evening, still blows my mind to this day.

Speaking of faraway friends, I have something new for all Morfternighters.

The Morfternighter chat.

This is a conversation space in the Substack app that I set up exclusively for y’all — like a group chat or live hangout. I’ll post short prompts, thoughts, and updates that come my way, and you can jump into the discussion. 

To join our chat, you’ll need to download the Substack app (messages are sent via the app, not email). Turn on push notifications so you don’t miss a chance to join the conversation as it happens.

How to get started

  1. Download the app by clicking this link or the button below. Chat is only on iOS for now, but chat is coming to the Android app soon.
  1. Open the app and tap the Chat icon. It looks like two bubbles in the bottom bar, and you’ll see a row for my chat inside.
  1. That’s it! Jump into my thread to say hi, and if you have any issues, check out Substack’s FAQ.

I’ve already started my first chat thread, so come on over and say hello!

🗺️ Three places to visit today

There’s a trend these days where new apps launch in beta with a limited audience and collect signups from people who want to try them to invite them slowly, over time.

It’s not new; Google started that eons ago with Gmail, Wave, and probably a few other products.

I am unsure whether this is a marketing gimmick to raise interest and awareness or a cautious approach to building in public without being overwhelmed by the feedback.

Nonetheless, I figured I’d share here three of the apps I am currently waiting to try.

  1. Tana is supposed to be the magic hybrid between Roam and Notion. For those unfamiliar with these apps, this is about gathering, organizing, and connecting notes of all sorts. I use Roam and Notion quite heavily, as they offer different approaches. The former is more organic and incentivizes serendipity, while the latter is more structured but requires planning. A hybrid could save me a lot of back and forth.
  2. Rewind offers to index everything you read, write, listen to, or watch on your computer to allow you to find it anytime in the future without having to search again. I currently use Heydaywhich has a similar purpose of resurfacing related content I previously consulted whenever I search for something. I am primarily curious here.
  3. Lazy’s promise is to remove all friction from saving, highlighting, or annotating the content in front of you, regardless of its origin or nature. It’s unclear at this point whether it offers flexible destinations for the notes created through it or whether it is also storing them.

I’ll tell you more when I finally get access 🙄

🤖 Iterating our way into the Metaverse

The Ship of Theseus 

Have you ever heard of the Ship of Theseus? 

It’s a mythological legend asking whether something remains the same when all the individual components are replaced one by one over time.

In the original legend, it was about a ship. 

I don’t know anything about ships, but we can ask the same question about our bodies and whether we remain ourselves throughout our lives, although all our cells will be replaced multiple times (I think, but I am also not a biology expert, so take this with a pinch of salt… 🙃 ).

Anyway, my point is neither about ships nor bodies.

We live in the future.

You may have heard about Meta’s $10 Billion investment to build the “Metaverse.”

If you haven’t, that’s fine, and maybe I even envy you a little bit, is there room for one more in the rock you live under? This gigantic bet strikes me as odd. Not because I do not believe in a future where virtual reality is omnipresent.

On the contrary. Because I believe we already live in the Metaverse.

And we have for a while. Think about that for a moment. For the longest of times, reality used to be about what was around us. We created languages, which allowed us to enrich reality with tales from other lands or fictional stories about people and places that didn’t exist.

We created more efficient ways to tell the stories. We learned to write, print, and broadcast audio, video, and data.

Today we live in a world with almost complete access to everything happening no matter how far, to every story ever told, and to virtually every data point that was ever collected.

We carry that in our pockets and call it a “phone” for fear of admitting what it is.

We are connected cyborgs.

Cyborg” is a relatively recent term, and it’s been primarily employed in S-F, but in a nutshell, it describes a biological organism enhanced with mechanical or electronic devices.

Humans have become cyborgs since we started using tools, and we have progressively expanded the scope of assistance with glasses, contact lenses, pacemakers, and prothesis of all sorts.

We have developed more sophisticated storytelling methods, like movies and video games, or to interact with each other like chatrooms and video calls.

In other words, we are adding layer after layer of real and virtual data to the reality we experience daily.

Augmented vs. Virtual Reality

This is why I believe that Augmented Reality, the technology aiming at superimposing layers of available data on top of what we see in front of us, will be first to take off, way ahead of entirely virtual worlds.

Do I want to meet faraway friends and colleagues through an experience close to reality? Yes, of course.

Do I want to do that as a cartoonish avatar in a random office building straight out of the Incredibles? No, thanks.

Iterating vs. building from scratch

It’s one of the most important yet too often ignored truths of software:

You should seldom rewrite an existing app from scratch; instead, you should iterate from what you have into what you want to have.

This is also known as Gall’s law:

A complex system that works is invariably found to have evolved from a simple system that worked. A complex system designed from scratch never works and cannot be patched up to make it work. You have to start over with a working simple system.

— John Gall

Meta and its founder, Mark Zuckerberg, believe they can build a Metaverse from scratch because of their vast investment capacity and staff.

I believe this is the wrong approach and that asking people to dive into a Metaverse built from scratch for more than a video game is ludicrous.

We already live in the Metaverse, and every day brings additional layers of data and new tools to expand the integration between our physical lives and the matrix.

New apps, devices, and connections make the experience more seamless and powerful daily. 

Soon, probably not that far in the future, we’ll realize that virtual, augmented, and plain old actual realities will have merged, and we won’t be able to make the difference anymore.

Iterating our way into the Metaverse is the way, and we are already doing that.

Like the Ship of Theseus, this Metaverse will still be our Universe after we change all the pieces one by one.

Come to the chat to continue the conversation!

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