Stephenson, of course, wasn’t being entirely original either. His vision of the metaverse owed a debt to Vernor Vinge’s 1981 True Names and to a series of William Gibson novels from the ’80s. Both of those authors owed a debt to Morton Heilig’s 1962 Sensorama machine, and on and on we go, back in time to Plato’s shadows on a cave wall.
I like this, tracing cyberspace all the way back to Plato.
The metaverse isn’t about building perfect virtual escape hatches—it’s about holding a mirror to our own broken, shared world. Facebook’s promised metaverse is about distracting us from the world it’s helped break.
We’ve got escape hatches in our games. I was looking for a 3D desktop after Quake came out, but it never happened.