I never understood people who didn’t travel. I’m not talking about the people who can’t afford it. I’m talking about those individuals that can afford to travel or move and simply don’t. You know, those kids who you grew up within your hometown and never leave. Or how we call people that live in New York but never leave the city, forever New Yorkers. Traveling has always been synonymous with adventure for me. Every destination is a new adventure. Even now, I’m writing this post from an Airbnb in Paris. For many of us, web3, crypto and the metaverse, is the latest adventure. Just like traveling in the physical world has its own set of rules and documentation, in the metaverse we will have a similar concept but instead of planes and paper passports, we’ll travel virtual worlds with the help of NFTs.
Don’t worry, this isn’t an explainer on the metaverse. Especially when we’re 10 years+ out from a an actual metaverse. However, when we look at the explosion of NFTs and web3 as a whole, we can see the early rumblings and examples of the metaverse. Virtual worlds and the ability too easily navigate between them is still in the early days, but at some point, there will need to be a way to easily travel between them while maintaining our identity and data. In short once we reach a point of true interoperability, we’ll need a passport to easily verify and help people easily control their identity between worlds.
The Metaverse according to every brand and bank is a trillion-dollar opportunity. Meta, Microsoft, Bandai, and just about every company you can think of are channeling their inner Avon Barksdale from The Wire and wants their corner. Not surprisingly, we’re ways out from the actual metaverse. I’m talking about 10years+. But if you scroll on Twitter for more than 5 minutes you’d see we’re in gold rush territory. The actual metaverse (whatever that looks like) is in it is earliest stages. And I mean early. With the explosion of NFTs, communities, DAOs, and just about every other sector of Web3 that has VCs and retail ready to risk it all, we’re able to see the seeds being planted and early rumblings of how the metaverse may emerge. Spoiler alert, it starts with communities.
When we hear about the metaverse the first thing that comes to mind are scenes of Ready Player One or Neo jacking into The Matrix. The problem with these examples is that it emphasizes a future where The Metaverse is completely controlled by one entity. If there’s one thing actual participants of Web3 hate are centralized entities looking to control everything while not sharing ownership with it’s contributors and participants. Aka, the people who actually provide value and help grow networks into something worth wanting to explore. Don’t worry, I’m not going to go on a centralized vs. decentralized rant. I’m setting the foundation for a point below. Keep reading. If the metaverse is a $1 Trillion dollar opportunity, and we know some of the largest companies in the world are going to carve their lane, what we know and what we should hope for is that the metaverse will not be one place controlled by a single entity.
Clout chasers chase for a reason. In Eugene Wei's classic essay Status-as-a-Service, he mentions two principles:
When applying this thinking to communities, the above still holds true. Just like traditional social networks create opportunities for social capital, communities must create some way to reward members with status rewards (but more on that later). When leveraged correctly, status rewards, especially as nfts, can increase participation and collaboration among community members and contributors without overly relying on a token based reward system.
tl;dr: status rewards (roles badges, medals etc), especially when created as NFTs, can provide stronger rewards both in the form of social and financial leading to stronger engagement and participations among community members.