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If you ask CEOs of Big Tech companies or trend watchers, the metaverse is the next phase of the internet. While often imagined as persistent, shared, 3D virtual spaces linked into a perceived virtual universe, the metaverse is still taking shape. Currently, billions are being invested in its development by companies that benefit from a fully digital future. But is this an internet we want as users? We need to think carefully about the kind of place that we want to bring into being. Will it be open, privacy-secure, and decentralised? Or will it just become another, even more embedded, way for companies to extract our data?

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Babusi Nyoni
What the metaverse is, and can become, is being co-opted by Big Tech. But what would a more accessible and decentralised metaverse look like? Babusi is a self-taught Zimbabwean innovator and tech entrepreneur focused on building tools for future Africa. He’ll be joining us to talk about his latest experiment—building a decentralised version of a metaverse in order to establish a framework for future, truly African, virtual worlds. For Babusi, the metaverse should be open and accessible to everyone, not just users who can afford the expensive hardware required to engage in VR experiences.

Wouter Nieuwenhuizen
The current narrative around the metaverse is dominated by largely utopian visions of tech companies, without a public counter narrative. Wouter is a researcher at the Rathenau Instituut, where he examines the impact of digital technologies on our society, and he’s also collaborating with the Digital Society School on technological citizenship in the metaverse. He’ll be joining us to talk about the manifesto published recently by the Rathenau Instituut, on 10 design requirements for tomorrow’s digital society, and about developing methods to engage citizens in the future of the metaverse.
Marina Otero Verzier
At a moment with unprecedented demands for data storage and digital infrastructure, what does it mean to want to build the metaverse? Marina is an architect and Head of the Social Design Masters at Design Academy Eindhoven. She’ll be joining us to speak about her latest research project, Future Storage: Architectures to Host the Metaverse, where she examines architecture paradigms for storing data and explores how reimagining digital infrastructures could meet the unprecedented demands facing the world today.

About the Hmm
The Hmm is an inclusive platform for internet cultures. Through events, online editorials, expert advice, and educational programs, we reflect on people’s online behaviour, the latest internet trends, the mechanisms behind Big Tech companies and their impact on society.

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