Open Metaverse

I’m old enough to remember when ‘going online’ meant this:

I can still hear the AOL dial up sign on sounds in my head when I see this image.

Many Americans, myself included, first accessed the internet through AOL’s walled garden.

Web 2.0 promised more openness but got dominated by centralized platforms like Google.

  • The creation layer is now decentralized.
  • But the aggregation layer is highly centralized.
    • Search (Google), Social (Facebook, Twitter), and Commerce (Amazon) are now dominated by platforms that curate (i.e. control) what their users see.

Now Web3 is promising to (re-)decentralize the internet.

The Centralization vs. Decentralization battle for Web3 has already started.

  • Centralized governments will try to use cryptocurrencies to control their citizens.
    • Imagine this news story from 2030: “Coinbase, an Alphabet company, announced its partnership with the IRS to automatically deduct wealth taxes from American wallets. The two other authorized US crypto platforms, Diem by Facebook and Wallet by Microsoft, quickly announced similar deals.”
  • A centralized metaverse would be even more totalitarian.
    • Most social interactions already occur online.
      • What happens if governments are able to control what we see and feel in a metaverse?

How do we ensure that decentralization wins for good?

  • Own your data:
    • We don’t own the content we create on centralized platforms.
      • If we owned our own data, our ability to exit would limit the power of platforms over us.
  • Own the networks:
    • Web3 aligns financial incentives between users and networks.
      • Fractionalization allows for networks to have millions of owners, none with absolute power.

We can’t afford to get stuck in a centralized metaverse.

  • Each version of the internet is more immersive and commands more of our waking hours.
    • This raises the stakes for defending decentralization.

Cryptocountries are key to the decentralization of the metaverse.

  • Centralized corporations are anchored by centralized countries.
    • To completely replace the former, we have to replace the latter.

We must ensure that an open metaverse wins the future.


Open Metaverse is one of my solutions to the World’s Biggest Problems.

  • This idea is a work-in-progress. If you’d like to riff on it, hit me up @neilthanedar on Twitter.

Published by Neil Thanedar

Neil Thanedar is an entrepreneur, investor, scientist, altruist, and author. He is the founder & CEO of Utopic, his startup studio. He is also the founder & chairman of Air to All, a 501(c)3 nonprofit medical device startup, and Labdoor, a consumer watchdog with $7M+ in funding and 20M+ users. He previously co-founded Avomeen Analytical Services, a product development and testing lab acquired for $30M+ in 2016. He has worked with community organizations since 2007 and political campaigns since 2016 to fight for better education and economic opportunities in Michigan.