A Brief History of the Metaverse: Days of our Second Lives

In the second half of the 1990s, VRML became the platform of choice for ‘virtual worlds’ filled with ‘avatars’ – digital representations of real people. The Web goes big – and stays big – yet VRML crashes back to Earth, as Second Life becomes the last best hope for the Metaverse. It’s all melodrama, all the time, in ‘Days of our Second Lives’!

Tony’s Intervista Software had a very 1997 website. Check it out here.
Have a play with Jan Mallis’ Floops – an early VRML animation – here!
Watch the five episodes of ‘Bliss.com’ Jan and Mark created — in your web browser, here.
VRML: The LSD of the Internet” from the May 1996 Red Herring.
Mark Jeffrey co-created The Palace – a 2D avatar chat. It’s still going, here!
Christopher Caen co-founded OnLive – a 3D chat with audio streaming.
And Philip Rosedale created Second Life still going strong!

A Brief History of the Metaverse: DIY Metaverse

Tony and Mark – supported by a global community of technologists, enthusiasts and dreamers – brought 3D to the brand-new Web with VRML. This episode features Owen Rowley, Neil Redding, Linda Jacobson, Brian Behlendorf, John McCrea, Coco Conn — and Neal Stephenson.

Read the interview with Jaron Lanier in MONDO 2000 issue 2 that changed Mark’s life.

Homebrew VR“, written by Linda Jacobson, in WIRED magazine, issue 1.

Use Windows? Have a play with ‘Labyrinth’, the world’s first 3D Web browser, here. You can explore the ‘Cyberbanana’ – and ‘Daniel’s Room’, the first public demonstration of VRML, for SIGKIDS 1994.

“Coco’s Channel” a WIRED article about Coco Conn’s work creating SIGKIDS. Read it here.

Read ‘Cyberspace’, the paper describing VRML that Mark presented at the First International Conference on the World Wide Web.

Read the VRML 1.0 spec here.

A gallery of wonderful images from VERGE (thanks to Linda Jacobson for these!)

At the end of the episode, Neal Stephenson recounts the story of a panel he sat through – which inspired him to write Snow Crash. Read it here

A Brief History of the Metaverse: Military Metaverse

In our second episode, co-hosts Mark Pesce and Tony Parisi discover that the technology behind the Metaverse has its origins in the darkest days of the Cold War. This ‘Military Metaverse’ gave birth to the Internet, transforming warfare – and, a generation later, online gaming. Dr. Michael Zyda explains how he forged the connection between deep military tech – SIMNET – and the latest online games.

JCR Licklider – “Lick” to his friends and colleagues – is little-known but absolutely an essential figure in the development of modern computing.

Ivan Sutherland is probably the most influential computer scientist, full stop.

Here’s a video of Ivan Sutherland giving a demo of ‘Sketchpad’ the first interactive computer drawing program.

Bob Taylor is largely unknown outside the small community of individuals involved with the early Internet – but his work is profoundly influential.

Here’s an interview with Bob Taylor, talking about the origins of the Internet

Here’s an excellent documentary on the recreation of the “Battle of 73 Easting” – the first tank battle captured in real-time, then simulated endlessly using SIMNET.

A Brief History of the Metaverse: What is the Metaverse?

NEW SERIES! In episode one, Mark and co-host Tony Parisi travel back more than a century to uncover the roots of the Metaverse. From pioneers Chip Morningstar and Randy Farmer, creators of “Habitat”, the first massively multiplayer online environment, we learn the Metaverse has never been about technology – but always about people.

Have a read through Tony Parisi’s “The Seven Rules of the Metaverse” here.
Read E.M. Forster’s “The Machine Stops” here.
Listen to William Gibson reading an abridged version of Neuromancer here.
Wondering what Lucasfilm’s Habitat looked like? Watch the promo video here.
Read Chip Morningstar and Randy Farmer’s amazing, prescient paper, “The Lessons of Lucasfilm’s Habitat” here.
Want to play Habitat? You can – in your web browser. Just go here.

Big thanks to the wonderful folks who voiced those historical evocations of Metaverse: Genevieve Bell, Mark Jeffrey, Paul Godwin and David Baxter.

6.18 TNBS Briefing: Fool Me Once

A clever bit of AI software transforms my voice into a silky-smooth ‘Lisa’ – almost an archetypal radio host. In the near future we’ll be able to make ourselves sound – and look – like anyone else. How will we know if we’re being fooled?

Big thanks to Twitter user @nearcyan – who offered me a demo of https://koe.ai – have a play with it yourself!

Episode 6.17 In the Ops Room with Palmer Luckey

In this live interview with Oculus and Anduril founder Palmer Luckey – joined by Anduril Chief Engineer Shane Arnott – we look at the future of defense, geopolitics, and Australia’s future in a transformed Indo-Pacific region. Have we shifted toward a defense-driven future? Recorded at the ArtHouse Hotel, Sydney, 18 August 2022. (Photo credit: Mr Snow)

Episode 6.16 How to be a Futurist

Three big transformations – one that’s has already happened (the Web), one happening now (augmented reality), and one about to happen – illuminate the path (and pitfalls) for those anyone who wants to articulate the future. Listen, and learn how to be your own futurist!

Big thanks to the folks at Quantium for allowing me to share this in-house talk I gave to staffers in August 2022.

Episode 6.15 Palmer Luckey Goes to War

At the age of 19, Palmer Luckey founded Oculus, bringing a comatose VR industry back to life. Will he to do the same for defense with his new startup, Anduril – and has he solved Australia’s submarine problem? A wide-ranging interview covering everything from the search for the ‘ultimate’ gaming display to the future of warfare.

Rebooting the Arsenal of Democracy” is Anduril’s own statement about what they’re about.

And an article about the XL-AUV project Anduril is doing with the ADF.

Palmer Luckey is speaking in Sydney on the 18th of August, 2022 – book your tickets here.

Episode 6.14 Are you Crypto Crazy? Put it Somewhere Safe

If you own cryptocurrency, where do you keep it safe? Who’s responsible for the contents of your ‘wallet’? Both ‘custodial’ and ‘personal’ wallets have strengths and weaknesses – which is right for your needs?

Episode 6.13 Are you Crypto Crazy? Hopium and Silver Linings

In the middle of a bad ‘crypto winter’, Mark and Josh go looking for good news – all this bad news has a silver lining, as folks wean themselves off ‘hopium’ into more realistic expectations for the future.

If you’d like to listen to the full interview with Block Earner‘s Jordan Momtazi, click here to visit the website for my other podcast, This Week in Startups Australia.

A recent article in The Guardian looked at the crash in the NFT market – in which Josh’s friend Tony lost all his paper gains…

Episode 6.12 Horizon Report FY2023: The Stars Align for an Energy Transition

Caught between an energy crisis and a climate crisis, the Lucky Country has stumbled upon a unique opportunity to solve both problems with one solution – a complete electrification of our homes, saving us money while saving the planet. The amazing Saul Griffith outlines his plan to electrify Austinmer, NSW – and reveals a blueprint for Australia’s future.

Saul Griffith’s new book The Big Switch: Australia’s Electric Future is a must-read. Get it here.

If you’re an aspiring energy geek (like myself), you’ll be interested in Spark Club – a monthly get-together of like-minded people working hard on Australia’s energy transition. Learn more here