Prosunjit Biswas 2m 553 #meta
The views of this article are the perspective of the author and may not be reflective of Confessions of the Professions.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock or in a forest without any internet facilities, for the past 15 years or so, chances are you’re well aware of Facebook and its iconic social media brand. However, as of October 2021, the parent company has decided to change its name from Facebook to Meta.
Interestingly in 2015, Google did a similar rebranding when it established a holding company called Alphabet – the parent company to all of Google’s various holdings.
Facebook Founder and Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg announced the executive changes at the company’s annual “Connect” conference on October 28, 2021, and stated that the tech giant would begin trading as “Meta Platforms” (or “Meta” for short).
Although the new parent company corporate name will be Meta (which will have a new logo and corporate structure), the social media platform itself will retain the name Facebook. It remains to be seen if Facebook Reality Labs, the division of the company responsible for building the “metaverse” and developing different apps for it, will change its name as well.
What is Meta?
The name Meta is derived from the “metaverse,” which is a term that has existed since the 1990s, coined by Neal Stephenson in his novel Snow Crash. Generally it refers to the integration of the internet with some form of virtual or augmented reality.
From the short descriptions we have so far, it seems likely that the plan for the metaverse is to be some sort of virtual reality suite that enables you to “step into” the social media experience rather than passively observe it.
Zuckerberg gave some more concrete examples of what he imagines consumers will be able to use the platform for. He mentions being able to “teleport” to work or to a family event as a hologram, as well as replacing physical objects such as televisions, monitors and board games with digital holograms projected in virtual reality.
Facebook clearly envisions the metaverse as a piece of infrastructure that isn’t developed or maintained by any single company, much like today’s internet. That means that the metaverse won’t be a Facebook product, but rather the environment in which the company will develop applications and experiences.
Although a lot of this might seem like science fiction, both virtual and augmented reality have made massive leaps in the past few years. The social media giant is no stranger to the world of virtual reality headsets, either — all the way back in 2012 it purchased Oculus, which produces the VR headset Oculus Rift.
Is there going to be any difference between Meta and Facebook?
For now, nothing changes for Facebook, the social network. It’ll be largely unaffected by the rebranding, and the website will still function and look the same. However, going by Zuckerberg’s founder’s letter, it seems that the company ultimately plans to integrate Facebook into the metaverse and phase out the need for Facebook accounts to access the company’s products.
Taken at face value, the company’s virtual reality dreams are certainly ambitious, as they aim to blur the line between the physical world and the virtual world. Whether or not this actually leads to new forms of communication and interaction with technology as Zuckerberg said remains to be seen. Let’s hope for the best!