Interoperability and the metaverse: Positioning Debian in the emerging ecosystem

Bernelle Verster, indiependent biological nomad :)

DebConf22, Prizren, Kosovo, 18 July 2022

Debian and the metaverse

Bernelle Verster

indiebio

indiebio logo droplet
Screenshot of web or mobile game called paperworld, showing a low poly earth and paper airplanes

Interoperability, metaverse, Debian

  1. The metaverse and urban metabolism

The metaverse and urban metabolism - remembering 2019

  1. The metaverse and urban metabolism
  2. Good open data
  3. "The" "metaverse"
  4. Web3 vs web3.0

My problem:

We do not have the data easily available to facilitate bottom-up decision making.

We do not have a good way to communicate and work with different groups of professionals and everyday people to manage our urban resources.

DebConf19, Curitiba, Brazil:

The metaverse, gaming, and the metabolism of cities:
Building connection across boundaries

Visualise complex interacting flows of the resources that make a city work.
Visualise complex, intractible challenges that cause conflict in an attempt to elevate the conversation.
Empower everyday people to take responsible and appropriate action.
Visualise beautiful maps.

The metaverse and urban metabolism

  1. The metaverse and urban metabolism
  2. Good open data
  3. "The" "metaverse"
  4. Web3 vs web3.0

A sortof like Godus citybuilder game?

Learnt about game engines ... Blender, Godus, O3DE, Unreal Engine 5, ...

Nah, but learnt a lot along the way.

Platform!...?

Godus game screenshot

The metaverse and urban metabolism

  1. The metaverse and urban metabolism
  2. Good open data
  3. "The" "metaverse"
  4. Web3 vs web3.0

Maps! Javascript! OMG!

Beautiful things are possible!

shared on Twitter #30daymapchallenge, and e.g. Julian Hoffmann's selection, and my retweets.

Screenshot of a mapbox site by Owen Powell
Screenshot of a Blender map rendering by BeyondWatts

Observable! and @fil!

d3.js library hosted on a notebook type website.
d3 = data driven documentation.

Fil's take on why Observable is amazing.

CEO Melody Meckfessel on building a company in the pandemic.

The great Mike Bostock on D3.js 10 years on.

screenshot of generative blue mountains

FOSS4G! 21 - 28 August 2022, Firenze, Italy

"Geospatial is not something we talk the most about. This is not the hottest topic when we talk about the metaverse, but it is going to be one of these foundational technologies."
Nadine Alameh, CEO, Open Geospatial Consortium,
Geospatial and the metaverse podcast FOSS4G logo

The metaverse and urban metabolism

  1. The metaverse and urban metabolism
  2. Good open data
  3. "The" "metaverse"
  4. Web3 vs web3.0

Urban metabolism data hub

Screenshot of the Metabolism of Cities website

Not Good Enough

Other open data initiatives

Goal: frictionless data, high quality machine usable data

Open Knowledge Foundation
Open Data Institute

Geofolio

The metaverse and urban metabolism

  1. The metaverse and urban metabolism
  2. Good open data
  3. "The" "metaverse"
  4. Web3 vs web3.0

5 star data

available on the Web (whatever format) under an open license.
★★
available as structured data (e.g. spreadsheet not image scan).
★★★
available in a non-proprietary open format (e.g. CSV not Excel).
★★★★
contain URIs to denote things, so that people can point at the data.
★★★★★
link your data to other data to provide context.

RDF: Resource Description Framework

Originally designed as a data model for metadata
Statements about resources in triples: subject–predicate–object.
Each of the three parts of the statement can be identified by a URI.
Simple, flexible data model with great expressive power to represent complex situations, relationships, and other things of interest,
While also being appropriately abstract.

From vendor data to metaverse renderings

illustration showing raw data conversion to rdf data, models and eventually graphic rendering

RDF is a middle ground to allow vendors to do their job, not worry about the format of the data - police example.

The metaverse and urban metabolism

  1. The metaverse and urban metabolism
  2. Good open data
  3. "The" "metaverse"
  4. Web3 vs web3.0

Remember my problem:

We do not have the data easily available to facilitate bottom-up decision making.

We do not have a good way to communicate and work with different groups of professionals and everyday people to manage our urban resources.

Self-hosted linked-data: SolidBox

User-controlled local storage point, independent of application providers.

Based on the flexible interoperability framework of the Web of Data (RDF)

Promote the autonomy of individuals, and transformation within organizations and ecosystems.

Getting user-generated data to facilitate bottom-up decision making.

More reading on linked data

The SOcial LInked Data (SOLID) Project of Tim Berners Lee

Run your own social: How to run a small social network site for your friends

The metaverse and urban metabolism

  1. The metaverse and urban metabolism
  2. Good open data
  3. "The" "metaverse"
  4. Web3 vs web3.0

"The"? There won't be only one

Metaverse?:Browser of choice
Tabs/websites?:Buildings or portals or things that you can interact with, walk around in and around and along
Advertising?:Contributes rather than distracts from the
overall experience

"The"? There won't be only one

The metaverse and urban metabolism

  1. The metaverse and urban metabolism
  2. Good open data
  3. "The" "metaverse"
  4. Web3 vs web3.0

What is a "metaverse"?

Immersive and/or 3D and/or social internet ...

New, more open, more intuitive ways to interconnect and collaborate

Training environment for people (e.g. Microsoft Hololens)

Training environment for robots and AI (e.g. AWS RoboMaker)

...

What is a "metaverse"?

Virtual and physical world combined, and the ability to move seamlessly between simulation, real, virtual and physical world(s)

Gaming, yes, but also commerce, experiences, a lot of 3D content, very large worlds, very high resolution worlds

Clickbait, hype

Web + movie + games + social media all mushed together in various ways

The foundations for ‘the metaverse’

I see this convergence happening between the gaming rendering, the simulation world, the retail virtual try-on world, the AR/VR world, and the movie rendering world.
It's a wholesale optimization of the computing infrastructure, which is why it's right to call the metaverse the next generation of the internet.
- Bill Vass, AWS, Cloud infrastructure for the metaverse podcast

Good metaverse readings

The metaverse and urban metabolism

  1. The metaverse and urban metabolism
  2. Good open data
  3. "The" "metaverse"
  4. Web3 vs web3.0

"My metaverse"

Open source, immersive, interactive, internet platform,
based on a topographic, 3D low-poly geographical rendering of earth
that allows geographically independent full participation in (remote work and) ecommerce.
Specifically thinking about the African context.

pretty earth globe image

The playful internet

The web is more a social creation than a technical one. I designed it for a social effect—to help people work together―and not as a technical toy.
Tim Berners-Lee, Weaving the Web, 1999

Free, open metaverse in phases

0. Geo-related 2.5D data-visualisation website

1. My self-hosted GOML metaverse

2. Urban metabolism self-hosted metaverse

3. Avatar self-hosted metaverse

4. E-commerce metaverse

0. Geo-related 2.5D data-visualisation website

"3D OpenStreetMap (OSM)"

Built on OpenStreetMap and likely A-frame.js, including topography.

Built for work and play.

Suited to visualisation caricatures.

1. My GOML metaverse

development

Real world using OSM, real 3D topography.

No buildings, no avatars, no people, no shopping. GOML!!

Maybe deployed on Vircadia, self-hosted.

Assets can be ported into other metaverses.

Hideout cabin low-poly illustration

Vircadia: FOSS metaverse

Vircadia is a full coverage ecosystem of open source applications that enable individuals and organisations.

Apache 2.0 licensed components.

Vircadia icon

2. Urban metabolism metaverse

science

Real world using OSM, real 3D topography

Buildings!

No avatars, no people, no shopping.

Likely deployed on Vircadia, small enough to be self-hosted.

Siemens metaverse

Emergent System of Systems bridging the physical with the digital, in a large scale,

A recent news release relates to a microverse, but Jan Kiszka's talk at DebConf22 hints at greater possibilities.

Siemens metaverse

interoperable

Commercial product with public-relevant data

3. Avatar metaverse

social

"Free and open VRChat in Debian"

Functionalities plus avatars

NB: Free as in the 4 Freedoms

The 4 Freedoms

4. E-commerce metaverse

commerce

Functionalities plus ecommerce.

Not self-hosted.

Aim for 100% Free. May end up (also) being a less free fork...

? Data ownership ?

CSIR Metaverse Project

Tools for enabling commerce inside the metaverse

A general metaverse where users can rent and customize space and conduct commerce by offering product or service offerings. All payments happen on a per-second bases, in a peer-to-peer manner, facilitated by non-custodial wallets. Permissions are customized for merchant needs into smart contracts.

New project: June 2022. Scope to help with their vision.

CSIR_metaverse_diagram CSIR_logo

The metaverse and urban metabolism

  1. The metaverse and urban metabolism
  2. Good open data
  3. "The" "metaverse"
  4. Web3 vs web3.0

Understanding the blockchain terminology

ledger
an ordered list of events
distributed ledger
a shared, replicated ledger
blockchain
a specific type of distributed ledger
Bitcoin
a specific type of blockchain

A blockchain is useful to
establish binding agreements between
parties that cannot trust each other,
without a centralized mediator.

A blockchain is NOT useful
when there is no disagreement,
for unique physical goods,
if only one party writes,
when parties trust each other,
when parties trust a central mediator, or
when parties trust authorities.

Blockchain can provide incentives and
trust for decentralized computations

Further reading on blockchain

Linked Data, blockchain, and other epic sagas,
by Ruben Verborgh, 2018

A useful, critical taxonomy of decentralization, beyond blockchains,
by Cory Doctorow

Review of the Sovereign Individual book on the Radicalxchange blog
by E. Glen Weyl, January 18, 2022

The metaverse and urban metabolism

  1. The metaverse and urban metabolism
  2. Good open data
  3. "The" "metaverse"
  4. Web3 vs web3.0

The balance between centralization and
decentralization needs to be revised.

Web3.0
BlockchainA universal trust
Web3
Semantic web, DebianStability through collaboration

The alternative to redundancy: Subsidiarity

Subsidiarity is a principle of social organization that holds that social and political issues should be dealt with at the most immediate level that is consistent with their resolution.

Wiki:Subsidiarity
Further reading: Cory Doctorow: A useful, critical taxonomy of decentralization, beyond blockchains

The metaverse and urban metabolism

  1. The metaverse and urban metabolism
  2. Good open data
  3. "The" "metaverse"
  4. Web3 vs web3.0

The challenge of FOSS

Closed source is getting something that is pretty and easy to use out the box and then you can't do anything else with it - frustrating.

Free and open source (FOSS) can be incomprehensible out of the box which is frustrating and then you can do anything you like with it after that.

You need to understand what you are dealing with: Both have limits.

Further reading on FOSS

Fernando Almeida, José Oliveira and José Cruz, Open Standards And Open Source: Enabling Interoperability (2011) DOI: 10.5121/ijsea.2011.2101

The Debian Free Software Guidelines (DFSG)

The Open Source Definition

Free and open source is not only a piece of software
but it is also a process to build and license code in order to
solve common shared problems such as infrastructure problems.

Free and open source software enhances trust in interoperability through transparency.

Web3 vs Web3.0: Who wins?

There is a huge amount of ideological shift, and learning you can do by just being in the space, in the beginning.
Technology can change your political outlook.
Danny O'Brian, Filecoin Foundation and Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).

How to evaluate if an initiative is legit?

Does it have a real use case relevant to you?

Are the people involved in the project involved in projects you trust - Relational data is important.

Good things take time, and good things stand the test of time, in a way.

The metaverse and urban metabolism

  1. The metaverse and urban metabolism
  2. Good open data
  3. "The" "metaverse"
  4. Web3 vs web3.0

Closing opinions

My wild dream is entirely possible! And doable! And timeous: wide-spread 3D+ use of geospatial is only just emerging.

Data is becoming even more important to allow “creating a world that people can interact in as well as with." We need to do it right.

This metaverse concept is potentially very exciting, but comes down to a battle for the soul of the new/next internet.

...

Closing opinions

Keep the door open to learning.

I've grown to fully embrace my not popular, weird, geek, tinkerer self, and I hope you do too. It's the quiet, hidden, right thing to do.

Acknowledgements

Thank you!

find me @indiebio

bernelle@indiebio.co.za

Talk lives on Debian archive (source) and on my blog (ready to view html)