Monday, January 30, 2023

“Navigating the Metaverse” Book Review

Take a look inside “Navigating the Metaverse” and hear from the authors.


Navigating the Metaverse: A Guide to Limitless Possibilities in a Web 3.0 World is a new book by Cathy Hackl, Dirk Lueth, and Tommaso Di Bartolo. We got an advance copy of the book, and spoke with the authors as well as the editor John Arkontaky to learn more about how the book came together.

Navigating “Navigating the Metaverse”

Navigating the Metaverse consists of information-dense chapters broken up into manageable sections – a necessary consideration for a topic so branching and nebulous. While the metaverse itself may be a rats’ nest of uncertainty and conflicting ideas, the book is easy to follow and the ideas are presented with confidence and clarity.

“The reason we have a full writing room is because the metaverse is complex. Different viewpoints add color and context. The co-authors’ combined forces offer a blend of industry knowledge, hard business, and blue sky aspirations.”

– Introduction

Many of the chapters include full-page illustrations and infographics to make the content even more accessible. A number of the chapters also include Q&A-styled segments bringing in yet other subject matter experts. Finally, each chapter ends with each author having their own space to air their unique ideas on the topic.

“It’s a really complex subject matter and we’re trying to make it as digestible as possible,” Arkontaky told ARPost. “The book is 53,000 words and we didn’t want it to feel like a clunky textbook. We want people to come away with things.”

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The book doesn’t require readers to be experts in emerging technologies. Part of Chapter 1is indispensable to all readers because it lays out what the metaverse means to each author, which is necessary for understanding the book. Other parts of Chapter 1 constitute a glossary of emerging tech terms that will already likely be familiar to most readers.

The book also has a hefty index. This makes re-reading or cross-referencing ideas easy, or using the book as a reference book rather than a primer.

Big Ideas

Lueth told ARPost that there are “five core things people can take away from the book.” These are:

  • New commercial opportunities in the metaverse;
  • Tokenomics;
  • The opportunities presented by curated immersive experiences;
  • The “value ladder” of assets and engagements in Web3;
  • The significance of “Phygital Experiences”.

“The most positive thing about the metaverse is that we’re creating this new land of opportunity,” Lueth told ARPost. “The metaverse is an infrastructure upon which things will be built.”

The “land of opportunity” isn’t just an analogy. Most of Chapter 2 reviews the means of production as they manifest in Web 3.0, as well as how currency works and what the goals of the economy are. The book also looks at the question of whether all of this is “a blip or a trend.”

“The metaverse represents a chance at redemption for companies that missed the tech rushes of the last generation.” 

“We could be on the cusp of technology investments we haven’t seen since the dot-com bubble in the late 1990s.” 

“Why is the metaverse economy a trend and not a fad?” 

– Chapter 3: Building a Business Case for the Metaverse

This book will be a hard-to-swallow pill for people that are skeptical about crypto and non-fungible tokens. That is particularly true of this chapter. The chapter argues that Web3 is here to stay by looking almost exclusively at NFT data.

The book talks a lot about blockchain. It also makes sure that readers remember that blockchain isn’t just about art and money. For that matter, neither are NFTs or cryptocurrencies.

“The metaverse is a transparent market. Even better, it generates a lot of data, even in real time.” 

“If you pay attention, you’ll know how your metaverse strategy is going.”

– Chapter 3: Building a Business Case for the Metaverse

Takes on the Developing Metaverse

Of course, a draw to the book for many will simply be what these experts believe these emerging virtual worlds and economies are going to look like. This is a recurring theme throughout the book. Later chapters of the book present more distant takes.

Earlier chapters of the book deal more with the stages that we are in now, or that are currently developing. For example, the authors acknowledge that NFTs will have more value as interoperability increases. Earlier chapters of the book also touch on problems with adoption of emerging technologies like disparities in income and computer literacy, as well as inclusivity.

“If the metaverse learns from self-confirming communities, slanted algorithms, attacks on minors, and other issues that have plagued the internet and social media, it’s possible to snuff out hate, inequality, and predatory behavior before they take root.”

“The fairer the metaverse is, the more people will be encouraged to log in and explore.” 

“Positivity will open new doors for creators and consumers from every corner of the globe to play, invest, socialize, and add their unique content to the metaverse.” 

– Chapter 4: Meet the Metaverse Consumers

How the Book Came About

The authors didn’t write this book just to write a book. And they weren’t scratching their heads trying to come up with content. The book evolved organically to solve problems that the authors saw in their careers.

Navigating the Metaverse book

“Cathy and I were on a panel and so many questions were coming up we thought maybe we should write a short article or something,” said Lueth.

Hackl and Lueth, with Di Bartolo, started putting a framework together. The three, all already published authors, “saw the need for further education, and further content,” as Hackl put it. As one might expect of three independent experts writing a book about a vast emerging technology, not everyone saw eye-to-eye on everything.

“We all have different backgrounds and come from different industries, but that’s part of the magic of the book,” said Hackl. “There were times we had to agree to disagree.”

It might sound like this makes the book contradictory or confusing. That’s not the case at all. In the end, the book provides more than one viewpoint on a given subject, but these views always add to one another rather than canceling each other out.

“The level of diversity that we bring shines a different kind of light on the subject,” said Di Bartolo. “Ultimately, it was a great endeavor.”

Di Bartolo also commented on the book having a female co-author calling diversity being “not just a mission statement, but a virtue.” This is an important aspect given that technology is typically (perceived to be) a male-dominated space.

“There are a lot of books coming out this year and I’ve looked at who’s publishing but ours is one of the few that has a female author,” said Hackl. “We do want to affect change.”

Is the Book Worth a Buy?

This book is best suited for those who want to engage in the Web3 economy – specifically as creators or through creation. For readers that want to make and sell experiences, goods, and services, it’s a must-read.

Everyone is going to be participating in this economy as a gamer, consumer, or investor. However, for most readers not on the creative end, this book is likely to come off as being a little macro.

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Reading this book before making a Decentraland account would be a bit like reading classical economic theory before going to Target. That is, it’s not a necessary part of engaging with the economy at that level, but you’ll definitely have a new understanding of why the goods, services, and experiences that you interact with are what they are and you might engage with them differently.

Pick It Up

Depending on what retailer you go through, and whether you get a physical copy or an ebook, the price tag on this one is between $19-$25. When you consider the fact that you’re basically getting three books for that price, it definitely balances out – particularly if you are one of those individuals or organizations looking to drive rather than ride the metaverse economy.

Jon Jaehnig
the authorJon Jaehnig
Jon Jaehnig is a freelance journalist with special interest in emerging technologies. Jon has a degree in Scientific and Technical Communication from Michigan Technological University and lives in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. If you have a story suggestion for Jon, you may contact him here.