Metaverse: Season 3 of the Cohere Podcast

During Season 2 of the Cohere podcast, Dr. Lauren Vargas and I examined the role networks play in our lives – from the obvious to the subtle. In Season 3, Lauren and I are exploring the topic dominating the discussion of our collective digital future: the Metaverse.

Our intention is to have a discussion will go beyond the hyperbolic (and eye roll-inducing) to have a forward-looking yet practical discussion of what our connected future looks like in a world of ambiently available digital networks – and what this means for us as individuals, citizens, societies, and as part of globally connected humanity.

Topically, we are opening up the aperture to look at the interconnected components that make up a future Metaverse, including the technology trends, societal impact, and what the Metaverse means for future forms of community, collaboration and community leadership.

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Season 3 So Far

Ep 1. Exploring a Betterverse

The current Metaverse is a mirage. The pursuit of the Metaverse vision could lead us to a better Internet.

Ep 1. Exploring a Betterverse

On the first episode of Season 3 of the Cohere podcast, we (Bill Johnston and Dr. Lauren Vargas) frame of this season’s topic: the Metaverse.

As they did with “community”, Facebook’s announcement of the company’s move to focus on the Metaverse, and rebranding to “Meta”, set off a frenzy of conversation, speculation, and investment. Made in a move remarkably similar to their 2017 announcement that Facebook was a “community” company, it remains to be seen if Meta follows through with creating their version of the Metaverse. It is interesting to note that Zuck’s “Community” announcement from 2017 appears to have been taken down at some point in the past year ( version here).

But this season of Cohere isn’t about Meta. It’s also not (solely) about VR, AR, XR, or related Web3 technologies – it is about the combinatorial effects all of these technologies and trends interacting to shape the next generation of the Internet, and more importantly, how we create a better Internet that is safe, equitable, accessible and inspires the best of human nature instead of exploiting the worst.

Ep 2. What Role Might NFTs Play In Future Communities?

Moving beyond punks and bored apes, NFTs have the potential to play a transformational role in future communities.

Ep 2. What Role Might NFTs Play In Future Communities?

On this episode of the Cohere podcast, we (Bill Johnston and Dr. Lauren Vargas) discuss one of the hottest, potentially most overhyped topics right now: NFTs.

For the uninitiated, NFT’s (Non Fungible Tokens) are unique, digital, verifiable (blockchain-based) digital asset that records an exchange of value. In turn, the NFT itself (which records an exchange) can be exchanged. Said another way, NFTs are a “deed of ownership to a digital item”.

Much of the discussion from the past 2 years has focused on NFTs related to digital art – Crypto Punks, Bored Ape Yacht Club and Beeple are notable examples, but just scratch the surface of the massive volume of activity. The NFT market represented a staggering $23 billion in 2021.

The core of our discussion in this episode focuses on
moving beyond financial speculation, what role might NFTs play in future communities and digital networks?

Ep 3. Do DAOs Hold the Secret of Orchestrating Collaboration?

Can DAOs address the current fallibility and idiosyncrasies of human collaboration to create better organizations and communities?

Ep 3. Do DAOs Hold the Secret of Orchestrating Collaboration?

On this episode of the Cohere podcast, we (Bill Johnston and Dr. Lauren Vargas) discuss the early promise (and obvious issues) with DAOs (Distributed Autonomous Organizations). Bill and Lauren have an in-depth discussion to try and separate the value and future utility of the DAO model vs. the current hype.

DAOs have been described as “digital flash mobs with money” by Raihan Anwar, manager of the Friends with Benefits DAO, and a blockchain-based “virtual entity that has a certain set of members or shareholders who have the right to spend the entity’s funds and modify its code” by Vitalik Buterin, Co-founder of Ethereum.

A recent article by Tarun Chitra on A16Z’s Future blog suggests that the key factors for forming a DAO vs a more “traditional” organization are curation, security and risk: “DAOs work best when the governance burden related to curation, security, and risk can be reduced faster than the natural increase in coordination costs that accompanies the need to have members involved in voting on every decision made.”

Metaverse Working Group

During the show, we mentioned convening a small workgroup for discussion, learning and sensemaking. If you would be interested in participating, please fill out the short form here to be considered.

As always, if you have comments, ideas, or want to suggest a guest or topic for the show, please feel free to send me a note.

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