What You Talkin’ ‘bout, Willis? What is the Internet, Anyway? Metaverse’s Virtual ‘Real Estate’

Photo by RoonZ.nl on Unsplash

Many years ago my grandmother criticizing credit cards told me: “A plastic instead of cash? Ridiculous! They will steal it, it will be lost, you will not know how much money you have. There is no future for that ridiculousness. The money has to be physical”. The same thing my father told me less years ago with books: “A Kindle! But for what? I like to read turning and smelling the pages, touching the book, noting in the margins. The digital book is an affront to reading”. A few days ago a friend told me about the stupidity of the Metaverse and the Virtual ‘Real Estate’. For him, the only Real Estate that will always work is the one that can be touched “Give me dirt, physical, cement, brick and glass. If not, it’s a lie “

Years and people go by, but interpretations of reality are already a classic. There are those who push it, those who want to stop it and those who are spectators. When the internet and e-mail appeared, there was a joyful and unforgettable moment. How to forget the now classic “What is the Internet anyway?”! Today Show (1994): ‘This little mark: an a and a ring around it’ — At? About? I’ve never heard it said. They were talking about this -> @

Are credit cards useless? Is the digital book an affront to reading? Are the pages, applications, and games that are turning the internet a single click away a lie? Are they a falsehood created to deceive us, bubbles that will soon burst and splash a crowd with their failure?

In the movie Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, Gordon Gekko (the perfect representation of greed, metamorphosis of the model of avarice of the nineteenth century, Mr. Scrooge) tells the greatest bubble story of all time: “Back in the 1600s the Dutch got speculation fever to the point that you could buy a beautiful house on the canal in Amsterdam for the price of one bulb,” he said. Tulips became the most sought-after commodity until the market for them burst, and they became worthless. The truth about Tulip Mania, Lizzy McNeill & Sachin Croker (2018). It ends like all bubbles: “Then it collapsed, people got wiped out.”

Is the story true or false? No one knows exactly, but what is interesting is not the story itself, but what it represents: it embodies the human desire to get as rich as possible in the shortest possible time. Greed, ambition, and acquisitiveness are all very close relatives. Right now, it’s Bitcoin. But in the past we’ve had dotcom stocks, the 1929 crash, 19th-century railways and the South Sea Bubble of 1720. All these were compared by contemporaries to “tulip mania”, the Dutch financial craze for tulip bulbs in the 1630s. Bitcoin, according to some skeptics, is “tulip mania 2.0. Tulip mania: the classic story of a Dutch financial bubble is mostly wrong, Anne Goldgar (2018).

In the same Gekko film, Jacob Moore states: What is the definition of insanity? It’s doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. By that standard, most of us are insane. But not on the same time. It seems that now we do the same old thing, over and over again, expecting different results. This time the most surprising thing is that we are all doing it at the same time. Why could we come to believe that this time we are not talking about a bubble?

The permanent dichotomy that exists between Apocalyptic and Integrated, not only in culture but in everything that implies a change in paradigm or mentality, makes a lot of noise and it is difficult for spectators to understand what is happening. When you shout on both sides of the counter, between the apocalyptic and the integrated, they both lose. Any innovation that comes out of the specific understanding of a moment will generate conflict, debate and controversy. Some people will be in favor, others against, and the vast majority will remain indifferent. This has always happened throughout history.

Common sense has been expanding, it usually does, but the speed at which this happens in different people’s minds is the difference between geniuses and madmen and the bunches that tend to follow both. Geniuses will broaden their minds and see opportunities, madmen will spread their lies and spam vagueness and falsehoods, in their midst there will be a horde of people trying to understand what is happening, who they should follow, where they have to invest … The answers are always late for them.

Virtual ‘Real Estate’

In 2018 Victor Tangermann wrote in Futurism: People are paying incredible amounts of real money for “virtual real estate”. You can’t even visit it yet. In it I quoted the futurist Ray Kurzweil (whom I had the good fortune to meet and also talk in my days at Singularity University) and his prediction about the future omnipresent virtual work. Where? In the Metaverse. If we are all going to work there, will we all want to have a piece of land in that place? Should we, or shouldn’t we?

In 2020 Kristina Frunze published in Hackernoon Real Estate vs Virtual Lands: New Verticals of a Global Economy, there she compares the value per square meter in Manhattan (New York), the pinnacle of Real Estate, not only in the US but globally, what happened from about $ 4,000 in 1997 to a whopping nearly $ 15,000 in 2021. A growth of 3.75 times the value in 24 years! In Decentraland the EST parcel in December 2021 is worth $ 758,250 (225.00 MANA). In February of this year it cost $ 98,450.12. A growth of 7.70 times the value in 10 months!?!? EST zone # 4339 costs $ 2,410,200.00 sold on November 22. EST # 985 $ 1,085,700… and so we could go on… until we ask ourselves: What are you talking about, Willis?

What is happening? Are they disruptions that we will have to integrate into? Or is the apocalyptic skepticism of the unbeliever better? Or maybe wait and keep waiting for things to “normalize”, that is, wait until I can understand them? Credit cards, books, internet… Tulips, dotcom, junk mortgages… Virtual ‘Real Estate’.



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Writer. Pic of abuelo (c.1930)