On Tuesday, 35 technology companies—among them Meta (formerly known as Facebook), Microsoft, Alibaba, and Sony—announced their founding membership in an organization calling itself the Metaverse Standards Forum.
The Forum’s stated goal: to foster coordination and cooperation among the hundreds of companies currently jockeying to create (or depending who you ask, dominate) the still-nascent metaverse: an immersive collection of digital spaces and worlds navigated via 3D avatars that many see as the future of the internet.
These tech giants claim they have banded together to set standards toward creating an “open and inclusive metaverse.” But their counterparts in the world of Web3—the individuals who believe the metaverse will be built on open, permissionless blockchain networks—say there’s reason to be skeptical.
“I think we should always stay skeptical,” Danny Greene, general manager of the Meebits DAO, told Decrypt. “At the end of the day, we’re fighting for a decentralized future and these are corporations that are representing shareholders.”
Key to the Forum’s stated aim to create an open metaverse, unable to be controlled by one company, is a particular word: interoperability. Many envision the metaverse as a constellation of many digital “neighborhoods,” each built by a different company. For these digital neighborhoods to be easily traversable, it would require digital assets of all kinds to pass freely, interoperably, from one neighborhood to the next.
Achieving interoperability would be a technical feat (think about getting…