Metaverse: Social Implications of an immersive digital world

Carolina Torres | August 08, 2022

The metaverse is a digital world that allows people to interact by breaking down 2-D barriers. This new ecosystem extends beyond three-dimensional images; concepts like cryptocurrency, NFTs, Blockchain and artificial intelligence become basic functionalities within this new sphere, making it more and more complex.

My view is that we must not ignore the social and legislative challenges that arise hand in hand with new ways of treating and presenting the information. In this regard, I consider it essential to talk about accessibility, privacy, and security.

Accessibility

Accessibility refers to the ability of a computer system to support all types of users, regardless of their abilities or possible impediments.

Throughout the history of the internet, guidelines such as the WCAG have sought to legislate accessibility practices through the implementation of minimum standards that promote the inclusion of a greater number of people in the digital world. But beyond legal compliance, we must build accessible spaces because it is the right thing to do.

Designing with accessibility does not mean creating a "one size fits all", it means designing different ways of being able to participate within the digital space and promoting a feeling of belonging in the growing virtual world among users. Accessibility is then a feature that we must consider by default in the design of the metaverse and not a nice-to-have feature.

 

Privacy & Security

The vision of the metaverse is the evolutionary step of the internet that would create a convergence between the digital and physical networks. Currently, using AR and VR technologies, spaces come to life and allow us to interact with our surroundings in a new and much more complex way. Eventually, the metaverse will include multi-sensory experiences that will allow much more immersive feedback.

Data collection has become a highly controversial topic. As users, we often accept data storage and disclosure clauses without really being aware of them. The infamous terms and conditions become eternal and complicated to read and as users, we lose sight of the sensitive information that we share with the digital world.

It is then the responsibility of the designers and developers of the metaverse to offer users control over the type and amount of information they want to share in a transparent and accessible way by providing tools that empower the user and build trust.

 

Designing the metaverse

The construction of the metaverse gives us a new panorama of possibilities and new challenges to guarantee accessibility, security, and privacy. When designing within the metaverse, don't forget to ask yourself the following questions:

 

  • How can we make the metaverse more accessible to users with impairment?
  • How can we use immersive technologies to increase user skills?
  • How can we improve access to immersive technologies?
  • How do we communicate what data is being collected?
  • How do we prevent sensitive information from being exposed?
  • How can we identify and demonstrate that our design is safe and secure?

 

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