Nearly 30 years before Facebook became Meta, there was “the metaverse.” The author Neal Stephenson coined the term in his cyberpunk novel Snow Crash in 1992 to describe an online, VR-ish world where the inhabitants of humankind could interact and escape the dystopian unpleasantness of meatspace.

Though Stephenson has long been fascinated by cryptography and digital money, as evidenced by his novel Cryptonomicon, he has admitted to being slow to embrace the actual crypto movement. That changed this week with his involvement in the launch of Lamina1, announced at the Consensus conference in Austin, Texas.

The project describes itself as a “free metaverse” aimed at “helping get artists and other value creators paid properly for their work, helping the environment (Lamina1 will be provably carbon negative), and seeing a truly Open Metaverse get built instead of seeing the Metaverse vision co-opted by monopolies.”

In an interview with Decrypt, Stephenson and Lamina1 co-founder Peter Vessenes, a crypto pioneer and co-founder of the Bitcoin Foundation, elaborated a bit on the project.

“Lamina1 is a purpose-built blockchain for building the open metaverse,” Vessenes explained. “We’re going to have all the facilities of a full layer one [blockchain] to help support and encourage the creators who want to build with us. That is my and Neal’s strategy—align everything around getting the best thing built and getting everybody all the tools they need to build what they want.”

Stephenson said that when envisioning the metaverse in Snow Crash, he did not foresee Web3, but…


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