Metaverse Author Neal Stephenson Advocates for an Open Metaverse

Image: Lamina1

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Novelist Neal Stephenson is credited with coining the term “metaverse”. Now he wants to make his fictional vision a reality.

In his 1992 science fiction novel Snow Crash, author Neal Stephenson describes a digital world called the “metaverse.” Thirty years later, the term is the buzzword for the future of the Internet. Countless companies want to be part of it.

The main driver is the old Facebook group, which is currently in the process of transforming itself from a social media company into a metaverse company and is focused almost entirely on building its own metaverse, including changing its name to Meta.

Nobody really knows yet what the metaverse (definitions) will look like one day. In any case, the spiritual father of this vision of the future does not want to leave his baby exclusively in the hands of strangers. Together with Magic Leap founder Rony Abovitz and blockchain entrepreneur Peter Vessenes, Stephenson is working on a free metaverse.

Lamina1: Stephenson wants an open metaverse

Lamina1 is the name of the metaverse company that Stephenson founded with Peter Vessenes. Together, they want to create a framework for an open metaverse and prevent big tech companies from dividing the digital future.

If Stephenson and Vessenes have their way, there should be only one metaverse allowing for different experiences and virtual realities.

“If there was to be an open-source blockchain alternative for people who want to build metaverse stuff, what would that look like?” Stephenson asks. “What characteristics would it have as a technology and social organization? Lamina1 hopes to answer these questions.

Vessenes admits that a lot of people are skeptical at first because of Stephenson’s involvement with the company: “That’s potentially the first question: Is Neal selling his brand to some fucking corporate metaverse? But when people talk to us, they conclude that this is a principled effort. So they ask, ‘Is this real? Are you really going to try to do that? »

The issue of funding

According to Vessenes, Lamina1 currently employs three engineers. However, between twenty and 200 specialists in immersive and spatial technologies are involved in building the necessary blockchain.

Lamina1 is working more on the foundation of the metaverse. Later, external developers can add other layers, such as application or game platforms.


Lamina1 being financed by venture capital, it must refinance itself. But like many metaverse startups, Lumina1 doesn’t yet have a concrete business model: “The economics are tied to adoption — the more people use it, the more valuable it is,” says Vessenes. He thinks the revenue will be similar to gas fees on the Ethereum blockchain.

Rony Abovitz: Stephenson is like Gandalf of the mountains

Lamina1 investor Rony Abovitz is excited about Stephenson’s involvement: “It’s like Neal coming down from the mountains like Gandalf, to restore the metaverse to an open, decentralized, creative order.”

Abovitz founded Magic Leap and once failed in his attempt to make consumer AR headsets for everyone. With his new startup, Sun and Thunder, he is working on AI characters who will one day drive their stories independently.

Late last year, the Magic Leap founder showed his first short film. At Lamina1, Abovitz is a strategic advisor. He thinks Stephenson can lend moral and philosophical strength to the story around a real-life metaverse that money can’t buy.

“Is the world cynical? Or is the world idealistic? Do people want to be open, democratic and creative and work as peers, or do they want everything to be passed on to them? I’m like, let’s grab our lightsabers and try!”

This is not the first collaboration between Abovitz and the science fiction author. In 2016, Stephenson ran a Magic Leap creative studio in Seattle.

Stephenson’s activities at Lamina1 would not last long. His main occupation is writing. From next year, he will return there.

“My editor will send a hitman after me if I don’t fulfill my obligations,” he says, “So when the calendar goes back to 2023, it’ll be back to business as usual.”

Lola R. McClure