Neal Stephenson on the metaverse: ‘It’s happening in a different way’

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Author Neal Stephenson said that many Web3 problems come from projects wanting to financialize everything very quickly.

Bestselling author Neal Stephenson spoke with Cointelegraph at the Paris Blockchain Week 2023, discussing various topics, including problems within the current Web3 ecosystem and the metaverse — a term Stephenson coined in his 1992 book titled Snow Crash. 

According to Stephenson, many of the current problems within the space come from people wanting to “financialize everything too fast.” Stephenson pointed out that many see the goal of getting lots of money and are eager to get to it. This leads to skipping over important steps that are necessary. The writer explained that: 

“You know, financial institutions emerged slowly over time out of existing markets, and businesses that were functional, and they were making money for people. And then, over time, people constructed banks and stock markets and so on.”

According to the author, this approach skips a very important part which is building a stable economy first. Stephenson believes that this accounts for all the volatility seen within the markets. “And so, I’m more focused on trying to help people build valuable experiences, I guess. Then, the financial industry will take care of itself, but we don’t start with the financial industry,” he explained.

Author Neal Stephenson with Cointelegraph’s editor-in-chief Kristina Lucrezia Cornèr

When asked about how the metaverse evolved after he coined the term back in his 1992 book Snow Crash, Stephenson said that while his idea of the metaverse’s potential hasn’t changed, new technologies make its execution different from his initial thoughts. He explained that: 

“I think my idea of what it could be hasn’t changed very much, but the technology has changed. So, it’s happening in a different way from what I thought.”

According to the author, people are now talking about the metaverse because of the current technological building blocks that are readily available. “We have very cheap, high-quality three-dimensional graphics, and we have game engines that are incredible but free to use,” he said. In addition, Stephenson also explained that current network technologies support these kinds of experiences.

Related: Paris Blockchain Week 2023: Latest updates by Cointelegraph

Stephenson also believes that one of the things that contributed to the development of the metaverse and Web3 is the realization that Web2 has a lot of issues. “We need to come up with a new thing. And yeah, it took a lot of hard-won experience for us to, for that to become generally understood,” he said.