In the metaverse, everyone can go Nowhere. The developers of Nowhere, a browser-based 3D meetup platform, made it so people don’t need a crypto wallet or NFT to join; there are NFT integrations, but it’s not a requirement, which lowers the technical—and financial—boundaries.
“Anyone with a link, and a click, can come in,” Ana Constantino, co-founder of Nowhere, told Ad Age during a recent meet-up at the virtual space.
Nowhere is like an amalgamation of the audio-streaming app Clubhouse, with different rooms hosted by users, and Zoom, the video conference platform.
In Nowhere, people pop in by video, framed by digital nonagons, which they maneuver around the site to go toward and away from other people in rooms. The sound is 3D: When a person approaches a conversation, it gets louder, and the noise recedes the farther away they move.
Nowhere seems low tech, but that’s intentional, so people in countries with fewer high-powered computers can participate. Its founders say it is a nod to the need for multiculturalism in the coming metaverse, where there is a risk that high-priced NFTs and expensive computing gadgetry could limit participation, unless early adopters like Nowhere give the underserved an entry point. Nowhere is undoubtedly a Web3 platform, since it can link to crypto wallets to implement cryptogating, which lets private rooms control who enters based on whether they are holders of a particular NFT.
Constantino, a member of the LGBTQ+ community and originally from Brazil, said that the concept for Nowhere was to create an online world that erases boundaries. “We believe culture and society benefit when people are together,” Constantino said.
Nowhere has about 12,000 members, Constantino said, and many are in the Web3 ecosystem. Google, Salesforce and Coindesk employees have held Nowhere meetups, for example, Constantino said.
Nowhere represents the building blocks of the metaverse, where early adopters want to make a new internet that alleviates the problems of the old one. Web 2.0 was characterized by social media apps and mobile devices run by companies like Facebook, Google, Amazon and Apple.
They became known as “walled gardens” because they locked their users in and tightly controlled the experience. Web3 adherents are developing decentralized platforms on principles of interoperability, transparency and accessibility. And they want everyone to have a voice in a way that promotes principles of multiculturalism, so that it’s not just a select few who own the NFT land and have a voice to establish crypto ground rules.
But some people are worried about the direction of the early metaverse, and whether it truly welcomes everyone. Constantino points to the gold rush happening in NFT real estate, where sites like Decentraland and The Sandbox sell virtual land for thousands of dollars. “That creates exactly the problems that exist in the real world,” Constantino said, “that push out people who don’t have the assets, replicating the problems in the virtual world.”