Last in our debunking-the-metaverse series, we present five things you can actually get your head around…

1. The metaverse does not exist yet 

We hate to burst the bubble, but current metaverse activations grabbing the headlines are actually just online experiences that have been around for ages. The total convergence of physical and digital life just isn’t technologically possible yet. Read more in our first post here.

2. When people say metaverse they mean gaming + digitalisation and a bit of crypto

The term ‘metaverse’ has a lot to answer for. At the moment, it’s an attention-grabbing buzzword for the world’s impending web3 reality. However, when you actually unpick what people are talking about, it’s just gaming innovations and crypto experiments.   

3. Don’t fool yourself, a lot of current activations are just fads 

Digital burgers? Love Island’s virtual getaway? Need we say more. 

4. Real world shifts are a precursor for how the metaverse will develop 

The clues of the metaverse lie in genuine human needs. Currently, however, the discourse is dominated by over-commercialised fast culture that responds to the needs of a few. To predict the direction that the metaverse will take, we need to inspect slow culture – those slower moving societal shifts within areas like family and work. Read more in our post here

5. Listen to people, join cultural conversations, show genuine interest, grow along alongside them 

If the goal, as a brand or business, is to use the metaverse to interact with consumers, don’t just jump on the bandwagon (a stance explored more in our post here). To become truly relevant to audiences, it’s vital we listen to what they actually need and want from the endless possibilities of our metaverse future. 

This blog is based on our recent Crowd DNA Amsterdam webinar, which you can read here and watch in full here

The Metaverse In Numbers

As part of our debunking-the-metaverse series, we look at the big, small and out of this world numbers in its evolution…

As with any developing platform, there’s a lot of smoke and mirrors going on in the metaverse – some of which we’ve tried to clear a way through in this debunking series. We can also look at the numbers – the good, the bad and the salutary – and what they tell us about how the metaverse is being met by businesses, brands, consumers and communities today. So here are the numbers that reveal the now, next, and not ever of the metaverse.

The metaverse is older than you think… 

30 years

The word ‘metaverse’ was coined in the novel Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson in 1992. The metaverse was an online refuge from the dystopian meatspace.

…but it could come about quickly 

25%

The percentage of people who will spend one hour a day in the metaverse for work, shopping, education, social, and/or entertainment by 2026 (Gartner, Inc).

How much? 

$13 trillion per year

The revenue that Citi and KPMG state the metaverse could generate by 2030. 

Metaverse platforms are bringing in the big bucks

$650,000 yacht

A luxury yacht with two helipads, several lounge areas, a jacuzzi and a DJ booth, sold as part of an exclusive luxury series developed for Sandbox (one of the largest gaming platforms). 

$4.3 million real estate 

On November 30 2021, metaverse investment company Republic Realm paid $4.3 million for land in The Sandbox metaverse to add to its 2,500 plots of digital land across 19 virtual worlds.

100 million log-ins

Nearly a hundred million people a day log onto Roblox, Minecraft, and Fortnite Creative platforms. 

Tech business is getting a slice of the meta-pie

1,100 regulatory filings

The US Securities And Exchange Commission reports that in the first six months of 2022, the word ‘metaverse’ appeared in regulatory filings more than 1,100 times. The previous year saw 260 mentions. 

$10 billion lost

In October 2021, Facebook changed its name to Meta and it now loses more than $10 billion each year on its metaverse initiatives.

$70 billion

In January, Microsoft announced the largest acquisition in Big Tech history, paying $70 billion for gaming giant Activision Blizzard, which would “provide building blocks for the metaverse.”

Culture has exploded into the metaverse

£10 million

The estimated value of paintings burned by artist Damien Hirst after 5,149 buyers chose instead to have an NFT of the artwork from his latest collection – aptly titled ‘The Commerce’. It is the most exciting project I have ever worked on by far,” says Hirst.

But there’s still a (very) long way to go…  

38

The very low number of “active users” in the community of Decentraland (DappRadar)

This blog is based on our recent Crowd DNA Amsterdam webinar, which you can read here and watch in full here

Next in our debunking-metaverse-myths series, we look at how to predict where it's going next… 

The metaverse is currently swamped by a lot of over-commercialised fast culture (see our previous post). To really understand the direction of the metaverse, we need to interrogate the real world – where real people with real problems live – by looking at slow culture. 

To recap: fast culture is made up of areas of society that change at pace, like food trends; slow culture is formed by areas that evolve over much slower periods of time, like family and work. The metaverse’s future doesn’t lie in gimmicky brand activations. It’s within slow culture that the real clues can be found. 

Crowd Signals 

At Crowd DNA, we work with nine cultural shifts that are at the foundation of societal and cultural change (see image below). We’ve devised these via our Crowd Signals hub, inspecting social data points to predict trends that ladder up to them. By using these shifts and translating them into a digital future, we can get a glimpse of the metaverse ahead.

Crowd Signals is structured around a bespoke taxonomy of nine fundamentals of modern life, each evidencing a cultural shift.
Crowd Signals is structured around a bespoke taxonomy of nine fundamentals of modern life, each evidencing a cultural shift.

Responsible Progress – Decentralised Fashion

There have been huge changes within the fashion industry over the past few years. Many of these have been as a result of its dark relationship with environmental waste, pollution and social injustice. Sustainable clothing is now available up and down the high street, and reusable or shared products are helping fight the war against fast fashion. 

But how is sustainable fashion playing out in the metaverse? Forward thinking businesses – such as digital fashion house, The Fabricant – are building decentralised platforms that give consumers control over their own designs and output. So, instead of producing physical samples, people can research and develop their own ideas in the metaverse – reducing environmental strain on garment creation in the process. This also puts more power into the hands of consumers, challenging fashion’s hierarchical structure in the process. 

The metaverse has enormous potential to research, design and test environmentally friendly methods of production. We’ll be able to try on clothing in virtual changing rooms, design our own digital samples and discover new community generated looks – all crucial in the attempt to slow down fashion and democratise the creative space once and for all. 

Wellbeing Recharge – Optimised And Ownable Health

Global uncertainty has forced people to tune into their mental, physical and social health more than ever before. New systems of care are emerging in response. The emphasis being on systems that integrate data and individual preferences, designed to empower us to take charge and become more conscious of our own health. 

Translated into the metaverse, digital healthcare has lots of possibilities. Virtual clinics are being set up to combat geographical barriers to healthcare. A specialist can be stationed anywhere in the world, but still be able to view a patient’s scans and tests done at local facilities. While this responds to healthcare’s accessibility, digital twins are paving the way for more holistic and user-centric treatment plans. Q Bio Gemini, for example, uses patient data to create simulations of anatomy. These twins can then be shared with medical professionals, giving them a live, always-on window into a patient’s health. People will also be able to see – and ‘own’ – their own health status, as well as receive more personalised treatment plans. It seems that healthcare in the metaverse could empower people to take charge of their own wellbeing and measure it in the most complete sense.

As we can see, the metaverse is unlikely to remain as a playground for virtual yacht parties and celebrity avatars. The more we inspect slow culture, the more we can see what it will be. That is, a world powered by real humans with real human needs ­– who are not driven by consuming NFTs or eating digital burgers (or at least, not all the time). 

This blog is based on our recent Crowd DNA Amsterdam webinar, which you can read here and watch in full here

Roughly 14 years and five months in the making, finally we've got round to writing our book. How We Work With Culture tells our story - the important stuff and the weird bits and pieces. But why bother? CEO and founder Andy Crysell explains...

First up, an admission. Probably should’ve written this a long time ago. Not now, almost 15 years into the Crowd DNA story.

So why now? Well, better late than never. Also because, as we grow, as we become more global, communicating what we stand for becomes ever more important to get right. We can’t just hope that this will all drift through the ether, like we perhaps could when Crowd DNA was a handful of people sitting around the same table. Now we’re not even sitting in the same timezone.

Prior to creating How We Work With Culture, what’s in here had never all been put down on paper in the one place. It had been talked about in instalments. Shared in various presentations, workshops and company get-togethers. It had existed in the heads of various people (much of it in mine). It often ended up hidden away in the mysterious depths of our Google Drive.

What do we hope to achieve with this? To give our team, particularly new arrivals, a stronger sense of what we’re about. The confidence to dive into the wonderful messiness of working with culture. And if there are people outside of the business who are also interested in what we’re about, that’s great, too.

We hope it will demonstrate that, despite all of the aforementioned messiness, Crowd DNA has craft to it – something we can call… a way. We want to be seen as a unique proposition, and to define and inspire a next generation of cultural strategists. We think How We Work With Culture has a big role to play here, too.

But then in some ways it’s just nice to have the opportunity to tell our story. All of the things we chat about. The stuff we try to make sense of, and somewhat obsess over. The big strategic things, but then also all of the weird bits and pieces that make up our narrative. All of it, in its own way, is important.

With thanks to the entire Crowd DNA team, whose creativity and energy never fails to amaze. Special applause for Chloe Swayne for all of the fabulous design work (and perseverance) that went into creating How We Work With Culture. And to our group managing director, Dr Matilda Andersson, for her contributions here, but more so, for her commitment to Crowd DNA itself.

Andy Crysell, founder and CEO

In the latest issue of Crowd Signals, we step into the world of Wellbeing Recharge and analyse online conversation around Psychedelic Health...

In times when our resilience is tested, we turn to ways to bolster our mental and physical health – we call this shift in focus Wellbeing Recharge. Our Crowd Signals series reports on the trends in Wellbeing Recharge, and focuses on the potent developments in Psychedelic Health. 

The hard stop of the global pandemic gave many of us an opportunity to pause and reconsider the balance in our lives, while notions of collective – including global health – are now being confronted. This connection with ourselves and those around us is now a multi-layered endeavour as we explore spiritualism, tech-enabled optimisation, new-wave ingestibles and alternative healing therapies. 

Our third edition of Crowd Signals is now live and available to download here. This is informed by our regular exploration of unstructured data using our trends platform Crowd Signals, designed to identify real-time cultural change and future opportunities with advanced NLP, AI and machine learning capabilities. 

Using our Crowd Signals Hub we have identified seven trends within this shift to Wellbeing Recharge. This edition of Crowd Signals looks into one of them: Psychedelic Health. The full report features: 

– innovation in health technology with start-ups in micro-dosing

– insight into how knowledge about psychedelics is shared online

– trend analysis of psychedelic use from underground to mainstream

– our emotions tracking tool illustrates the role played by trust in conversations around psychedelics.

So turn on, tune in, but don’t drop out – and read here to open your mind to all the potential. 

Contact us to find out more about the seven trends in the Wellbeing Recharge culture shift, or to talk more about our Crowd Signals platform.

 

Second in our debunking-the-metaverse series, we ask whether now is the right time for brands to get involved…

As digital native generations grow up and enter the workforce, ther­­­­e’s potentially serious money to be made with the metaverse. Brands are already staking their claim and the growing energy around immersive digital experiences is fuelled by this heightened commercial interest. Even if the tech isn’t fully there yet (see last week’s post), brands are buying into the promise to be part of it in the early days, and reap the benefits later.

We can see this in how brands are activating on the metaverse right now. There’s a lot happening, but it’s all based around the same, already very tired, already over-done, commercial/PR initiatives. Whether that’s living like Paris Hilton in a branded Roblox island, watching a Selena Gomez avatar in an Animal Crossing Talk Show, or product placing some flashy Star Wars junk in Fortnite. 

As of right now, the metaverse is a lot of overly-commercialised fast culture. It only features aspects of trends that change and develop at pace – like music, food, fashion, and so on. Brands risk being inauthentic and jumping on the fads of the moment. So, is it all just hype then? Or worse, something that we’ll be laughing about in ten years time? Is the metaverse today’s Google glasses?

Already there is a clear discrepancy between the big societal shifts (slow culture) and what is currently being offered – essentially commerce, branded universes or games. So if brands can engage in that slow culture – the conversations about factors that evolve over much slower periods, such as to do with family and work, or even spirituality – then they can begin to co-create the metaverse as a place that people actually want to be. Initiatives fuelled by slow culture are needed if the metaverse is to have real impact in people’s lives (more on this in next week’s post). 

Meanwhile, there is an expectation that digital natives will push the frontier even further. With Gen Z and Gen Alpha increasingly becoming locked into digital innovation, there is a future in this space and it’s led by them. Technological developments will also 100 percent open new routes. 

The road ahead is unclear, but it’s this slow cultural energy that will really shape the metaverse of tomorrow. We need to start listening and stop crowbarring ourselves in. So, no, don’t jump on the bandwagon.

This blog is based on our recent Crowd DNA Amsterdam webinar, which you can read here and watch in full here.  

First up in our debunking-the-metaverse series, we explore what it is. And what it isn’t…

It’s “the future of how we socialise, work and play,” says Mark Zuckerberg. There is a lot of commentary about the metaverse world. Everyone is talking about it. The CEO of Disney, Bob Chapek, calls it “the next great storytelling frontier,” and there are thousands and thousands of articles written about its potential. As a brand or a business, it’s hard not to feel like it’s the place to be. 

The idea of the metaverse began in Neal Stephenson’s novel Snow Crash, where digital avatars escape to the metaverse far from a dystopian meatspace. Now, 30 years later, the term ‘metaverse’ is used to describe web3, the concept of a total convergence of our physical and digital life. 

The metaverse today is best exemplified by digital platforms like Roblox, Sandbox, Decentraland, Minecraft and Fortnite. They successfully enable virtual experiences that are enhanced by connectivity, AR and VR. To the digital native generations, this virtual space is how they socialise and hang out. They can chat with friends, build houses, or spend virtual money on virtual yachts and virtual designer clothes. 

But these early metaverse forays are actually just online experiences that have been around for ages, and lean on pre-existing in-game economies. It’s all been done before (albeit with less press attention). The metaverse could be so much more: it could be an interconnected digital system of endless immersive potential. A virtual experience across worlds, realities, gaming, digital economies, spaces, UGC platforms and hardware. 

We know there is an engaged user already there – the millions spending hours building and gaming and playing. But not yet the technologies that will help the metaverse live up to its promise of creating truly immersive experiences, such as sonic innovation, synchronised experiences, and affordable and intuitive tech. 

Only then can we imagine a world where an absolute merging of physical and digital life could happen. Where our real and virtual self could do separate tasks at the same time – maybe even have two jobs, or perhaps two different hairstyles. Or where everyone, from developing regions to established economies, has the same access to utilities and chances. Or where IRL borders are no longer relevant and people from all countries can be part of one big online society and economy.

When that happens, it won’t just be the digital natives or over-excited brands banging on about how great it is. Until then, we have to conclude that the metaverse does not exist…yet.

This blog is based on our recent Crowd DNA Amsterdam webinar, which you can read here and watch in full here.  

Local Love In APAC

Download a copy of our Local Love In APAC report - produced in partnership with our KIN network

Part of our KIN Connects series, Local Love In APAC is a project from our Singapore and Sydney teams that illuminates an interesting cultural tension in the region – a kind of cognitive dissonance between the inescapable desire to be citizens of the world and an innate sense of place, connection and pride in localism.

Working with contributors from KIN, our network of creators and connectors, based in China, South Korea, India, Indonesia, and Singapore, we’ve identified three emerging shifts within this new wave of Asian representation.

Shift 1: (From) Homogenised cultural ideals → (To) Remix culture

Shift 2: (From) Simplistic narratives → (To) Enriched & nuanced

Shift 3: (From) Passive consumption → (To) Cultural co-creation

Want to find out more? Download the report here: KIN Connects | Local Love In APAC to do just that.