In a digital world it’s important to understand how various things are connected. Read this article to learn about domain names and the metaverse.
American writer Neal Stephenson first coined the term “metaverse” in 1992. Used in his sci-fi novel, “”Snow Crash”, it described a virtual reality environment that housed 3D buildings, human-like avatars, and other mind-bending types of spaces.
For nearly three decades, the metaverse remained largely in the realm of fiction. Then, last year, both Microsoft and Facebook announced plans to stake their claim in it. Facebook even rebranded its parent company as Meta on October 28, 2021.
Though these initiatives start with trillion-dollar corporations, you could feel the effect on a personal level. The metaverse could mean major changes to your digital identity, including your domain name. Today, we’re taking a look at how these elements are connected and what you need to know.
What Is the Metaverse?
Though the granular details can be a little complicated to understand, the basic premise of the metaverse is relatively simple. Conceptually, it’s an online environment that merges both digital and physical identities. This new virtual world will incorporate various different technologies and means of communication, including:
- Virtual reality
- Augmented reality
- 3D avatars
When all of these features are running at once, it will essentially serve as an alternative world. You can exist purely in the real world, or spend all of your time online. Or, you could live in the metaverse, where those elements are intrinsically combined.
You’ll enter the metaverse by slipping on a pair of futuristic AR glasses. Once they’re on, you’ll be able to see computer-generated images that are layered over your real life. If you played Pokémon Go years ago, think of it like that, but with the digital realm infused into every aspect of your everyday reality.
The Timeline to Expect
While Meta is a major player in the metaverse concept, it isn’t the only one. Other early investors to know include Microsoft, Epic Games, Decentraland, and Dapper Labs, among others. Each entity is working within its own timeline, budget, and strategy, but they’re all aiming for a piece of the pie.
If you’ve spent any amount of time playing online video games, then you’ve had a taste of how this reality-bending universe would operate. Moreover, you may have experience with online collaboration tools thanks to the pandemic-induced Zoom surge. Yet, while those tools offer a limited view of digital and physical fusion, these environments would expand that concept on a monumental level.
When its key features are fully functional, the metaverse would enable users to work, play, and connect with others with a few clicks. It would affect the way you meet with colleagues, enjoy entertainment, even vacation. While the premise might sound promising, we still have some time before it becomes mainstream.
Meta (formerly Facebook) CEO Mark Zuckerberg estimates that it could take up to 10 years for the metaverse to get up and running. In the meantime, how can you get ready and protect your own corner of the internet?
The Metaverse and Your Digital Identity
As the lines between digital and physical become increasingly blurry, it raises an important question: How can you establish and protect your identity online? To understand the answer, it’s important to understand how you’re represented in each realm.
In the physical world, your identity is multi-faceted. You are the culmination of your academic experience, professional pursuits, and personal circle. People know you by the way you look, the people you hang out with, and the things that you’ve done.
On the other hand, you craft your digital identity by the way you behave on the web. Your domain name forms the basis of this, but you also have a greater online profile that grows in the background with every purchase you make, link you click, or comment you leave.
Right now, you can distinguish easily between the two. For instance, you might hop on a Zoom call with a team member from work, who knows you by both your physical and digital identity. Yet, the metaverse opens up all kinds of new possibilities, and you’ll have the capacity to create a blended persona that makes it nearly impossible to differentiate between your real-world and online selves.
As such, it will be more important than ever before to ensure that your digital identity is authentic. If it’s going to represent you, then it should do so as clearly and realistically as possible. Your domain can do this for you, but you need to know how it will operate.
The Role of Blockchain Technology
A central aspect of the metaverse is that it will run on a decentralized, open platform. To date, this type of environment has been most closely associated with cryptocurrency. With digital currencies like Bitcoin, users can perform financial transactions without the interference of a central authority, such as a bank.
Without the same lack of governance in place, the metaverse will be largely in the hands of its users. Everyone will manage their own communications and computations, negating the need for a central server network.
As your physical and digital forms begin to merge, you will retain control over the type and level of personal information that you share. In addition, you will even be able to form multiple identities based on your various roles, such as a professional identity and a personal one.
To add to the complication, both individuals and companies can establish a digital identity. As you might imagine, it won’t take long before these realms get a little muddled. To create and maintain order, it’s expected that users will need to create veritable digital passports, or identities that they can use to represent themselves or their business.
This is where your domain name becomes critically important.
A Domain Name Creates Differentiation
Imagine trying to express yourself and establish authenticity when there are hundreds of thousands of other people trying to do the exact same thing. This becomes even more challenging when there are dozens of different identifiers linked to your identity.
Creating a domain name is a great place to start, but gone are the days when .com extensions were enough to differentiate one personal brand from the next. To stay competitive and get as many eyes on your page as possible, it’s time to give more descriptive domain names a second look.
As you do, look for extensions that relate closely to your identity, whether that’s your personal interests or your company’s focus. Domains like .design or .florist are much more revealing, and immediately hint at the type of content that someone can expect when they visit your site. When you go this route, you can include descriptive terms on both sides of the dot, firmly linking your domain to a specific industry and audience.
These domains can strengthen and reinforce your online persona, and communicate your goals and values in a matter of seconds. There will plenty of digital distractions in the metaverse, so the more intentional you can be with your messaging, then the more impactful it will become.
The Metaverse and Your Digital Assets
Digital identity aside, let’s talk digital assets. This is any type of uniquely identifiable file that exists in a digital format and brings value to an individual or business. Common examples include PDFs, videos, images, audio files, and presentations.
While those have been the extent of digital assets to date, expect major changes with the metaverse. In this world, users will be able to buy and trade all kinds of assets to enhance to their avatar’s personal and professional lives, from apparel and food to cars and movies.
Nike recently illustrated this concept when it filed for “Virtual Goods” trademarks to protect several of its brands (including the “Swoosh” and Jumpman logos and the “Just Do It” tagline) as digital shoes and clothing become more popular. For users, this means that they will eventually be able to purchase Nike-branded products for their metaverse avatars.
While some of this is purely for fun, it also represents a valuable opportunity for startups, freelancers, and small business owners.
In the future, tech-savvy professionals will be able to buy “property” on the metaverse as non-fungible tokens, or NFTs. Then, they can use this space to set up their virtual reality (VR) stores. From there, they’ll sell digital assets via online product catalogues, all sold as NFTs and priced using crypto.
Yet, you can’t do any of this without a domain. Your domain name is central to your ability to not only buy, sell, and trade goods, but to connect, communicate and collaborate with others across the metaverse.
Business Opportunities in the Metaverse
There are many different ways that enterprising business owners can use their domain name to optimize how they interact in the metaverse. Let’s take a look at a few of the top options.
Protect Your Intellectual Property
When physical assets translate to the digital realm, it’s that much easier to copy them. While counterfeits are everywhere in the real world, they’re even more present in the metaverse.
That’s because it’s much more difficult to tell a faux digital product from an authentic one. While you might be able to turn a pair of Ray-Ban sunglasses over in your hands to determine if you’re holding the real deal, you can’t manipulate digital assets in quite the same way.
In large part, NFTs help solve this issue of exclusivity. Similar to cryptocurrency, these units are generated and safeguarded using blockchain technology. However, the NFT itself doesn’t have any tradeable (fungible) value.
Instead, its value lies in its proof of ownership. A virtual product protected by an NFT is associated with one product file only. It does not point to any other copy or reproduction of that file. If you own any type of intellectual property (IP), then you can set rules that dictate how those products can be used in the virtual space.
You can link your domain name to your specific NFTs to maintain visibility into their use and distribution. Some businesses and personal brand owners are even investing in NFTs, which can be a profitable practice similar to domain investing.
Selling Virtual Products
As mentioned in the Nike example, virtual products will be hotter than ever in the metaverse. If you currently make and sell physical products now, then it’s smart to start thinking about how those products could become profitable in the virtual realm.
For instance, a formalwear company that sells suits and gowns for special events could also start selling virtual garb for online events that require avatars to look dapper. Think cruises and company parties, or interviews and first dates.
Think you don’t have anything to offer in this sphere? Even Taco Bell found a way to cash in on the NFT game, so it’s likely that your own wares could translate to the metaverse more easily than you think. With the right domain name, you can make sure your digital identity closely matches what you’re selling, so users know how to find you when they need you.
Improve Earning Potential and Brand Recognition
Have you ever dreamed about getting your brand name in front of some of your industry’s heaviest hitters? When your product or service appears a massively popular metaverse environment, you’re instantly many steps closer.
This is the reason why so many brands sought representation on the video game Animal Crossing when Nintendo launched its latest update for the Nintendo Switch in 2021. This included luxury brands like Marc Jacobs and Valentino, who you might not have expected to jump on the VR bandwagon.
The platform gave these companies the opportunity to not only appear relevant and in-the-know, but also capitalize on the earning potential that they offer. Not everyone can afford a custom Valentino ballgown, but they can buy the codes to download a dress for their Animal Crossing avatar. Similarly, buying and selling through your domain name can help you make both money and connections.
We might be years away from the full metaverse inauguration, but it’s never too early to start thinking about how you’ll carve out your own corner of this space. With a reality that blurs digital and physical elements, it will be more important than ever to distinctly identify and protect your brand online. This is especially the case if you plan to leverage the metaverse to sell digital assets, grow your reputation, or bolster profits.
What Will Your Domain Look Like in the Metaverse?
Though no one knows exactly what the future of the internet will look like, one thing’s for certain: The most successful companies will be those that are curious about how the space is changing, and what they need to do to keep up. As we continue to learn more about the metaverse, it’s time to get intentional about your virtual presence.
Are you ready to invest in a domain name that fully captures your physical and online identity? If so, then sign up for a Namecheap account today to get started.