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This Week in the Metaverse: Neal Stephenson’s Lamina1’s vision for ‘open metaverse’

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By Webb Wright | Junior Reporter

September 29, 2022 | 8 min read

Things are moving fast in the metaverse, and in the wider world of web3 as a whole. Here’s what you need to know from this past week:

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The laws of physics need not apply in the metaverse. / Adobe Stock

Neal Stephenson’s Lamina1 vows to enable ‘trillion-dollar economy of the open metaverse’

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Lamina1, the new brand co-founded by legendary science fiction writer and futurist Neal Stephenson, released its inaugural litepaper on September 23 in which the company outlined its strategic vision for building the ‘open metaverse’ – in other words, an interoperable metaverse that’s interoperable and accessible to all.

The core mission behind Lamina1, according to the litepaper, is “to deliver a Layer1 blockchain, interoperating tools and decentralized services optimized for the open metaverse – providing communities with infrastructure, not gatekeepers to build a more immersive internet.”

The company says it also aspires to reshape the power dynamics that have become characteristic of the internet in its present form: “As we usher in this bold new era of content creation and participation, we must revisit the centralized business models of web2 to empower creators and consumers with greater agency, ownership and privacy … Lamina1 delivers critical infrastructure to enable the trillion-dollar economy of the open metaverse.”

The litepaper also teased Stephenson’s ”theee metaverse”, which is described as “a richly-imagined interactive virtual world with an unforgettable origin story” that’s currently in the early stages of development. More details will be coming soon, the company said in the document.

The Lamina1 mainnet – that is, its fully operational blockchain protocol – will be deployed sometime during the second or third quarter of next year, according to the litepaper.

Interpol issues ‘red notice’ for Do Kwon

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The International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol) has issued a ‘red notice’ for Do Kwon, co-founder of Terraform Labs. Kwon’s company developed the cryptocurrencies TerraUSD and Luna – both of which collapsed, contributing to the broader crash of the crypto market, which began in May.

Earlier this month, the government of South Korea, Kwon’s home country, issued an arrest warrant for the now-infamous crypto founder, whom the authorities believe to be residing in Singapore. Shortly thereafter, Kwon stated on Twitter: “I am not ‘on the run’ or anything similar – for any government agency that has shown interest to communicate, we are in full cooperation and we don’t have anything to hide.”

“Red notices are issued for fugitives wanted either for prosecution or to serve a sentence,” Interpol says on its website. “A red notice is a request to law enforcement worldwide to locate and provisionally arrest a person pending extradition, surrender or similar legal action.”

At the time of this writing, no extradition treaty exists between South Korea and Singapore.

Tim Hortons enters Roblox

Canadian coffee chain Tim Hortons announced this week that it will be celebrating National Coffee Day (September 29 for the US and Canada) by launching ’Tims Speed Run’, a new branded experience in Roblox. The company describes the experience as a “one-of-a-kind obstacle course” situated in “a world populated with mountain-sized Tims coffees and donuts”.

The news from Tim Hortons arrives at a time when a growing number of brands across industries have been launching their own activations in Roblox, aiming to capitalize on the platform’s huge popularity – especially among kids and teenagers (67% of current Roblox users are under the age of 16). Earlier this week, for example, retail giant Walmart announced that it had launched two new branded experiences on Roblox.

Tim Hortons’ new experience on Roblox – developed in partnership with Media.Monks – launches today and will remain live throughout the month of October.

UAE Ministry of Economy opens a virtual office

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) Ministry of Economy has opened a new office in the metaverse.

On Wednesday, during the Dubai Metaverse Conference, UAE Minister of Economy Abdulla bin Touq Al Marri reportedly described the new virtual office as a digital twin of the Ministry’s two physical offices in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

“This is not a proof-of-concept,” the minister said during a live demo of the new virtual space. “This is our third address.”

In July, Dubai’s Crown Prince Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum announced on Twitter that his government was initiating a “metaverse strategy” to position Dubai as a global economic leader in the metaverse.

The UPS Store sets up shop in Decentraland

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UPS subsidiary and retail outlet The UPS Store, Inc. has opened a virtual location aimed at assisting small businesses. The ‘Helping you be unstoppable store’ – as the new activation is called – is being hosted in Decentraland, a popular blockchain-based gaming platform. Developed in partnership with Inc. and Fast Company, the new virtual store “will provide small business owners with exclusive content, tips and advice to help them in their entrepreneurial endeavors,” according to a statement from The UPS Store.

The virtual space will contain three floors, the first of which – dubbed ‘The Newsstand’ – opens today. The latter two – ‘Be Unstoppable Academy’ and ‘The Amphitheater’ – are slated to open on October 7.

“Because small businesses are always evolving, we’ve envisioned and built a place in the metaverse that will enable small business owners to thrive and be unstoppable in their pursuits,” Michelle Van Slyke, senior vice-president of marketing and sales at The UPS Store, Inc., said in a statement.

The announcement follows an activation from UPS, launched for the ComplexLand3.0 festival, in which the company developed a virtual space in partnership with a collection of small businesses founded by members of underrepresented groups.

For more, sign up for The Drum’s Inside the Metaverse weekly newsletter here.

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