The Secret Mozilla Hubs Master Plan

Why did the web win?

The web was the first successful globally distributed, decentralized multimedia networked document platform. The key ingredients were several new technologies atop the Internet stack:

  • HTML which enabled semi-structured, but forgiving, multimedia document creation with links
  • HTTP which allowed the resolution + retrieval of HTML documents
  • Free-to-distribute, easy-to-run web servers
  • Free web browser clients for displaying and traversing HTML documents
  • Neutral, profit-agnostic governance and actors shepherding its development

What the web wasn’t

The web was opinionated.

  • Unified user identity between sites
  • Transactions and commerce
  • Dynamic, programmable documents

Super-networks, and the metaverse

The web was a small set of protocols and software that led to explosive network growth by being layered on top of the Internet.

The web’s medium, and why it stuck

The web created a new medium at the right level of sophistication and expression. It was a way to create, view, and link hypermedia documents. It was higher level than the plain text Internet content networks of the time, but lower level than a full interactive, programmable multimedia platform.

  • By creating minimal protocols and software on top of it,
  • In order to create a hyper-leveraged medium forgiving to newcomers but vastly richer than its predecessors

What the web tells us about the metaverse

If the web’s history guides us, we can predict some things about the first global metaverse:

  • It will introduce a medium with optimal sophistication, forgiving to newcomers to create in but still richer than prior media with global reach
  • It will be simple for newcomers to join the network and contribute
  • It will not be overloaded with unnecessary features

The minimum-viable metaverse

So, what medium is the right one to spawn a metaverse with global reach? This is another way of asking: what new hyper-leverage will the metaverse’s newcomers get that they can’t get today?

  • Real time voice and video communication
  • Collaborative content creation
  • New business models and commerce
  • Online community and co-presence
  • Collaborative editing, building, sculpting
  • Rich games and 3D applications
  • A global marketplace and economy for virtual goods
  • A home to a universal identity
  • A place to live out your “second life”

The lynchpin for the web-emergent metaverse

We are on the cusp of a radical shift in the way society values physical co-presence with others. Recent research has shown VR devices are, today, competitive with face-to-face interaction in delivering social presence. This capability is unprecedented. The telecommunications revolution connected the world in many ways, but despite tools like messaging and video conferencing, it has so far completely failed at delivering remote social presence on par with face-to-face. However, with VR and AR, that final frontier is about to be breached.

  • Dynamic mixed media in 3D space
  • Virtual environments
  • Addressable places
  • The ability to join the network independently
  • Neutral, profit-agnostic governance and actors

The web today can support the metaverse

The web provides solid footing for each of the needs above:

  • Dynamic mixed media in 3D space: browser platform, web content and standards (glTF, video, etc)
  • Virtual environments: browser platform (WebGL/WebXR)
  • Addressable places: URLs
  • An easy to use ‘browser’ for participating in mixed media spaces
  • An easy and cheap to run server to join the network independently

The Master Plan

For Hubs and Spoke, it seems we are close to being able to see if these assumptions, combined with our execution, will lead us to a system with global reach.

  • Create easy-to-use tools for creating 3D environments and avatars
  • Build it to run in the browser, and embrace the culture of the web
  • Open source all the code
  • Make it cheap and easy for anyone to run their own decentralized server
  • Large, continuous open world ‘land’
  • Collaborative editing tools or world building
  • Transactions or e-commerce

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