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by Tim Hughes | @Timothy_Hughes

In the film Bladerunner2049 there is a future world, (without spoilers) to those that have not seen the film the world is inhabited by humans and people who look human…but might not be.  There being a morph of humans in to AI (artificial intelligence), VR (Virtual Reality) and AR (Augmented Reality).  There are all three.

This is Hollywood’s view of the future, but how much is this different from the way that social networks are taking us?

Social Media Today

Think about it, we spend so much time in Social Media, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest that have become virtual worlds.  Facebook is a virtual world of friends and family with maybe a colleague or two.  LinkedIn is a virtual world of business, where we can look in on people we don’t know, but maybe we do.  Pinterest is a virtual world of shopping or projects. 

How Is VR and AR Developing?

If we look at the gaming industry, what they create are virtual words, whether it’s angry birds or world of witchcraft, the player becomes immersed in a virtual world. When gaming first started it was single user, you worked in a world against the game, now gaming is multi-user so you are in a world where you work with or against other users.  In fact game makers create an environment where gamers create communities and can battle against each other.

One gamer, who was the world number one at a game, was asked what it was like to the the number one.  He said he hated it as he needed to take five iPads into the shower to stop people burning down what he had created.  This shows that for some people virtual worlds are already encroaching on the real world.

Time Travel

So how about if I can offer you the ability to travel in time, to a place or time?  You could meet, and interact with human like people.  Maybe you would want to watch your own birth?  Be there when the declaration of US independence was signed?  In fact any historical moment.  In time, like the gamer above, how would you know if you are in the real world or this new virtual world.

What if you decide you prefer living in 1950s Britain?  Is this not what gamers currently strive for?  Running home from work to take on their persona in World of Witchcraft for the evening or the weekend?  Isn’t this what Second Life promised us?  In a way, is a Hollywood film and hour and half of escapism?  The recent, Dunkirk film, took you back to a place in time for two hours.

So The Future of Social?

Now I’m not a friend of Mark Zuckerburg or Jack Dorsey, in fact I’m not sure I know anybody in Silicon Valley, (what I’m saying is that I’m no Silicon Valley insider) but here is my vision of the future for social.

Let me take a step back here.  Social Media has only really been around for about 10 years.  There are people that will talk about being in AOL communities before this and chat rooms, which is social.  But mainstream social, like we know it today, really came about with the introduction of the iPhone which is 11 years old.  The infrastructure had to be right to allow social to grown and scale.

So my assumption is that we carry on with the infrastructure that we know about right now, mobile phones, VR headsets and AR glasses, but who knows what some clever kid is creating in his or her bedroom somewhere.

So here’s my question…. and look into the future!

Why cannot Facebook, LinkedIN, Pinterest become virtual worlds?

Think about it. Currently, I’m sitting in a coffee shop in Melbourne, Australia, why cannot I connect with somebody on LinkedIn and meet them in a virtual world.  Why should I have to travel right around the world to have that meeting.

Maybe this what Starbucks needs to develop, rather than sitting in a coffee shop (as i am in Melbourne writing this), maybe there can be a virtual Starbucks, where I can meet and do business with anybody in the world?  Or of course, maybe we can do that through LinkedIN.

Tinder, could allow you to have a date, in a virtual world with anybody in the world. I won’t develop that idea further, you can imagine.

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