“We tend to overestimate the effect of a technology in the short run and underestimate the effect in the long run,” once said American researcher Roy Amara. This was also the opening line at a panel hosted at White City House yesterday evening by Halpern, a lifestyle communications and influencer agency.
Sharing their expertise on a new virtual reality space were four panellists led by host Oliver Feldwick; Elz The Witch, a gamer, content creator and presenter, Leanne Elliott Young, founder and CEO of the Institute of Digital Fashion, Lavinia Osbourne, a blockchain and Fintech expert and founder of Women In Blockchain Talks and Sunil Singhvi, chief business development officer for NFT marketplace Rarible.
Singhvi, who has been running Rarible for the past two years following roles at Twitter and Instagram, has worked with content creators, musicians and sports stars his entire career and is excited to see how the metaverse will change creator’s relationship with ownership. He believes the metaverse is a complete rebalancing of what it means to be a creator, consumer or owner.
“I realised [creators] were all beholden to someone else’s decisions – if the algorithm changes tomorrow, it affects your YouTube rankings, it affects how many people watch your video, it’s very hard to call someone and say, what happens now? Now, when you build your own NFT, you can add your own royalties to it, which means you as a creator are never detached from your product.”
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Elz The Witch, who kickstarted her online career playing The Sims and Fortnite on YouTube, now boasts 220,000 subscribers, and regularly collaborates with the likes of Chunkz, KSI and Sidemen, along with presenting slots at KissFM, BBC Sounds Press X podcast. The metaverse isn’t an entirely new concept for her, as prior to creating content online, she worked for IBM in a finance role, regularly attending conferences to learn about the emergence of blockchain and cryptocurrency in its early days.
“The metaverse is a really exciting time, I see myself as a consumer and I think it’s interesting to see how before it was a concept to now, where we’re having conversations about how we can use this virtual space,” she told the packed room.
She revealed her DMs are often filled with people assuming she’s an expert on the metaverse, but currently, she is not looking to create content just yet, rather learn and explore the infinite opportunities it offers. “I have an Oculus Quest, so I can go into the metaverse, I went to the cinema with other users and we all interacted with each other – to me that’s what the metaverse is, but there’s so many other elements to it, with NFTs and blockchain, there’s so much to unpack that I think for a lot of people it’s definitely overwhelming.”
Young, Singhvi, Osbourne also touched on the need for better education and legislation as the metaverse continues to exert itself as a new space for creativity and innovation. Brands are curious but hesitant due to a lack of knowledge, experience and understanding of how being in the metaverse could benefit them and their consumers.
Young’s work with the Institute of Digital Fashion focuses on working out the vocabulary for brands when interacting in the metaverse and how they can step into it with authenticity and integrity. Whereas Osbourne’s work is centred around diversifying the space. Through her Women In Blockchain Talks events she aims to amplify the many dynamic women’s voices in blockchain. “We’re community oriented and focused on education because the numbers speak for themselves. Only last year, data came out showing that only five percent of the sales of NFTs are made by women.”
Speaking about the real-life impact the metaverse potentially has, Elz brought us back to her university days, detailing one module which explored how high street banks were shutting stores in a shift to online banking. Cut forward to March 2022 and HSBC has purchased a plot of virtual real estate in The Sandbox, an online gaming space. “The way I see it, in 10 to 20 years time, I don’t need to go down the high street or my HSBC to make a transaction, I can put my VR headset on and go to the bank in the metaverse,” she said.
The metaverse is new territory and offers limitless opportunities for brands and content creators within it. Can you imagine going to the bank from the comfort of your own home? Perhaps not now – but with the rise of the metaverse, this is all coming.
By Louise Whitbread, editor at CORQ. Picture credit: Rarible via Instagram