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On the Path to an Open Metaverse

By January 18, 2023No Comments

While the hype and fanfare surrounding the Metaverse is deafening, we’re excited to announce news that sets the stage for practical, powerful progress in building it, together. 

An open Metaverse offers rich experiences in many forms. It can create new jobs and industries in the digital space. It can bridge the gap between the physical and digital worlds while providing an amazing world where anyone can create their own opportunities. An open Metaverse broadens commerce for digital ownership and consumables, and it offers shared experiences and learning opportunities for anyone with access. The future market value for all of this may exceed any single media market.

The potential for the Metaverse is boundless, but only if we pursue it as an open, collaborative endeavor. The mission of the Open Metaverse Foundation (OMF) is to foster a strong community of developers, engineers, academics and thought leaders who will solve the difficult challenges of building the open Metaverse through open source software and standards that enable portability and interoperability for an inclusive, global, scalable world, supporting interactive and immersive experiences for the benefit of any individual or industry. 

Through the Foundation, we’ll work together to discuss, pinpoint and create the building blocks to transform the emerging concept of the Metaverse into a reality—spanning digital assets, simulations, transactions, artificial intelligence, networking, security, privacy, and legal considerations. 

Many foundations are focused on the important work within their own communities. To bring the Metaverse to life will require them to tackle different parts of the Metaverse within their own ecosystems, bringing to bear their deep expertise in creating these essential building blocks.

One example is the work that is being done in the Open 3D Foundation with the Open 3D Engine project. A number of components and libraries in that project are considered to be ‘table stakes,’ yet they are very important elements of the open Metaverse. Having an open source Apache 2.0 reference engine to test and build portable interoperable libraries usable with any 3D engine helps bring us one step closer to interoperability. Having a community with years of experience contributing to the open Metaverse helps prevent us from reinventing the wheel.

But O3DE is only one part of the solution. Backend services, standards, and relationships are critical to success, including elements like digital ID representation for users and objects. Transactions must provide receipts for proof and commerce. Also, technologies like simulation might provide the worlds, but they need users and objects. Worlds need a standard to communicate with other worlds so that users can move in and out without breaking the immersive experience. Providing an open standard to move objects across worlds is a huge part of what the OMF can deliver. Other technical challenges that demand open collaboration include the reshaping of our networks and internet to accommodate greater needs presented by the open Metaverse. 

All of this can seem overwhelming. And it is, unless you have the proven expertise in community building, governance and other elements offered by the Linux Foundation (LF), which provides the focus needed to create manageable, tangible tasks to complete.

We’ve already set up several Foundational Interest Groups (FIGs), which provide a great starting place to engage with the OMF. These FIGs enable a focused, distributed decision structure for key topics, and provide targeted resources and forums for the identification of new ideas, getting work done, and onboarding new contributors. They are comprised of members from specific disciplines committed to advancing projects or scalable technologies within their domains as well as ensuring code ownership of every identifiable subpart of projects (e.g.,, repository, subdirectory, API, test, issue, PR) is addressed and managed. These groups include:

  • Users
  • Transactions
  • Digital Assets
  • Virtual Worlds and Simulations
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Networking
  • Security and Privacy
  • Legal and Policy

Licensing and governance in the OMF will follow the LF’s best practices. Contributions to OMF projects are licensed under both Apache 2.0 and MIT, enabling anyone to use, modify, extend and distribute the source code without any fees or commercial obligations. Foundation and project governance is managed by a governing board, technical steering committee, Foundational Interest Groups (FIGs), Special Interest Groups (SIGs), and project maintainers.

I am honored to serve in the role of executive director for the OMF, and am energized by the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead. We look forward to working with a broad, global community to advance the promise of the Metaverse. 

We are on an incredible journey, and you are the key. Learn more by visiting the website or contacting us. Get involved and contribute your ideas, docs, code, and awareness by connecting with the community on Discord. Join us at upcoming events, including an informative broadcast next week, and the Open Source Summit North America, May 10-12 in Vancouver. Challenge everything; don’t stop questioning assumptions as we build the open Metaverse, together.