With the resurgence of the Lootverse ecosystem, the concept of Autonomous worlds has begun to appear more and more in the public eye with the support of Mud. On the one hand, skeptics may think that this is just old wine in new bottles of the Metaverse. On the other hand, we feel the very strong driving force and vitality of the AW native community, and more people choose to wait and see. This article will explore the cultural roots of AW from the development logic of human society, and why we believe AW is the inevitable evolutionary direction of the metaverse.
Metaverse: Still the Frontier?
Back in 2021, the Metaverse once captured the imagination of the entire world.
At that time, we were trapped in the physical world ravaged by the epidemic. With the help of virtual reality technology and hardware enhancement, the Metaverse promised to save people from it, and brought us into a bright and futuristic digital world thanks to a ray of fresh air. McKinsey Company estimates that it will be worth $5 trillion by 2030. Facebook even repositioned itself as Meta and changed its stock symbol from FB to META. In a founder’s letter on October 28, 2021, CEO Mark Zuckerberg defined the Metaverse as:
This is an experiential internet where youre not just watching. We call it the metaverse, and its going to touch every product we build.
He isolates being as the defining characteristic of the Metaverse. In the metaverse, people will be able to connect with each other through their digital avatars. He envisioned a future in which physical things - televisions, offices, games, etc. - would be replaced by holograms. Humans will no longer be limited by physical space. He proudly announced:
“From now on, we’re going to put the Metaverse first, not Facebook first.”
Then, fast forward two years, the development of the Metaverse seemed to have stalled, along with investor interest and the pursuit of capital.
As the COVID-19 pandemic recedes, people are returning to reality, feasting at restaurants, heading back to the office through crowds of people, sweating at sporting events, flying to see clients, and of course, sitting in traffic jams at the end of the day. Those days of lockdown are fading in memory, and although Zoom meetings still linger, Wall Street bankers are still more interested in lunch time than just interacting with virtual idols on the screen.
So, are humans doomed to be bound by physical existence? Social media gave the answer in the negative.
Most young people register on Facebook, Twitter, and Ins, and contribute a lot of time and attention to online dating, live streaming, and video software, and even social relationships. While Decentraland only has about 38 active daily users, Roblox, Minecraft, and Fortnite are filled with young people and active communities.
So, why not the Metaverse?
Because only culture can strengthen group behavior, consensus is the foundation of culture, and to form consensus, in addition to the space infrastructure, holographic projections, and digital clones provided by the metaverse, we need more.
Nomos, narrative and community
Sociologists have been studying the complexity of how humans build communities for years.
Community is a socially constructed product that contrasts with the forces and orders found in nature. Fire, wind, thunderstorms and other awe-inspiring forces in nature reveal a natural reality in which there is inherent order and regularity. At the same time, human communities also provide an entirely different kind of social reality—the need to give meaning to organizations.
Social reality must make sense, which means it needs to organize and interpret our experiences in order to better organize relationships and interactions within a community. This process is called"Nomos", it is a way of cognizing and organizing social reality. Through Nomos, people can establish social norms, cultural values, and social relationships that shape the structure and behavior of communities.
The concept of nomos was introduced by sociologist Peter Berger, best known for his seminal 1960s work on the sociology of religion, The Sacred Canopy:
This idea may now be more understandable if it is proposed that the socially constructed world is first and foremost an ordering of experience. A meaningful order, or nomos, is imposed on the discrete experiences and meanings of individuals. Saying that society is a created world career, in fact, it is an activity of sorting or Nomosing .”
In other words, building a world means creating a Nomos. Spatial infrastructure, digital avatars and pretty pictures alone are not enough to build Nomos. The metaverse is just a space, it does not constitute a world. The problem is not that they dont want to interact, but that without underlying order and rules, there is no fulcrum for social interaction, and in a world without Nomos, people will not stay.
At the dawn of human history, ancient peoples constructed their Nomos based on their understanding of nature (i.e., the universe). In other words, Nomos is framed in terms of the order of the universe, and it has legitimacy within society as part of the natural order.
Nomos and the universe seem to go hand in hand. In ancient societies, it was seen as a microscopic reflection of the universe, showing the world in relation to the inherent meaning in the universe. Although this pattern of micro and macro is typical in primitive and ancient societies, it has been transformed in major civilizations .
It is not surprising that Nomos were universally religious in nature in ancient civilizations. From Egypt to Mesopotamia to China, priestly culture was dominant. Even in modern society, when religion itself is no longer central to human activity, Nomos still retains a religious aspect.
“Time and time again they restore continuity between the present moment and social traditions, situating individual experiences and social groups in a historical context that transcends them all, whether real or fictional .” People for it Going to the battlefield is also in the world of prayers, blessings and spells, and is placed in the long river of life .
Therefore, to build a world in which people can interact, space is not enough; time is also essential. Time here is not only time in the natural universe, but also time in society, that is, the history and traditions of the community, such as our calendar, festivals, customs, etc. Without these elements of time, although physically present, social life would become meaningless because mere existence does not give meaning to social life.
The secret to creating time in a social sense lies in narrative. In the famous Nomos and Narrative , the late Harvard Law School scholar Robert Cover observed:
“The codes that relate our normative system to our social constructions of reality and to our visions of what the world is possible—are narratives.” world might be narrative.)
It is therefore no coincidence that ancient religions were based on narrative. They are really about stories that connect mythical fantasy and human behavior, producing a divine timeline that provides the community with foundational mythology and origin stories. Ancient history, when traced all the way back to the beginning, has always evolved into myth.
Nomos would not be complete without narrative. This is the biggest difference between the two. The Metaverse is an eternal space, while Autonomous worlds are worlds that completely include narrative and Nomos.
Robert Cover further elaborates on the educational and maintenance functions of Nomos, with education being given by the communitys foundational narratives (or myths), such as the Law of Moses handed down by God. As communities grow and change, Nomas will be stressed and challenged. Taking the biblical example, the Israelites were once defeated as they saw their temples destroyed by foreign powers such as Babylon and Rome. These events shake Nomas and require further narrative to sustain them.
As human history unfolded, modern science eventually replaced religion, not because of doubts about the philosophical existence of God or gods, but because of the revelation that religious texts such as the Bible were not, in fact, sacred. These texts are not infallible words carved in stone by the finger of God or the gods, but human stories. We have entered modern society, an era of scientific and technological civilization and an era of popularization.
Through popularization, it is the process of liberating certain areas of society and culture from religious and totem dominance .
Religion no longer dominates human activities. Throughout the long history of mankind, the relationship between gods and humans has never been so limited. Modernity triumphed, but the Nomos of the Western world suffered a spiritual crisis.
"we are empty people
we are the filling people
The head is stuffed with straw. well!
our dry voice when
when we whisper together
Quiet and meaningless
like the wind on hay
Or the footsteps of mice on broken glass
in our dry cellar"
— TS Eliot, The Hollow Man
At the same time, this emotion is reflected in Edvard Munchs famous painting The Scream. The irony is that this howl is forever silent - because it appears on the canvas.
Are we originally empty people, or have we become empty people? When Nomas breaks, we tell stories to fix it. When Nomas is broken beyond repair, well tell new stories.
Autonomous worlds: Reshaping narratives
Modern society cannot do without popular culture. From pop music to Hollywood movies, popular culture is constantly trying to test new Nomos with some comfort similar to religion. Events such as the 1969 Woodstock music festival and the annual Academy Awards echo the special rituals of ancient and medieval carnivals. The avenues of Hollywood celebrities and rock stars are similar to the gods in Greek mythology. People are both unfamiliar with and fascinated by these modern gods, and the media, which understands consumer preferences, greedily delivers various stories to the public.
Our early mythology was a collaborative effort. Even works by a single author often draw on earlier or contemporaneous oral traditions. The Epic of Gilgamesh, the Iliad, the Odyssey, Beowulf and the Nibelungenlied all share this characteristic. In a sense, the single author is not the only artist in the modern sense, but the single organizer of the story. Who can be sure that Homer did not use earlier stories in his epic poem?
This is even more obvious in religious texts. The Bible and the Sanskrit Vedas were almost certainly composed by multiple authors over a long period of time. The earliest original ring legend is the Nibelungenlied, a Middle High German poem written around 1200 AD. German composer Richard Wagner used an ancient Norse variation of the same myth to rework the story into the operatic masterpiece The Ring of the Nibelungs, also known as The Ring of the Nibelungs. The plot revolves around a magic ring that can control the world. It took 26 years to create, from 1848 to 1874. Decades later, a British author retold another ring legend, but this time he drew heavily on old English poetry from the Book of Exeter to create a new myth. He tells the story of heroes, of hobbits, of elves and the magic ring that holds them all. His name is JRR Tolkien.
That the most popular games online and on-chain share many of the same themes is no accident, but is deeply rooted in our heritage. The emergence of decentralized technology breaks these technical barriers and effectively reduces the cost of maintaining myths. When deployed in a Web3 environment, an autonomous world is born.
As mentioned earlier, collaborative narrative is the origin of myth and represents a more natural state of story development in the first place. Before the advent of recorded history, the narrator was hidden behind the story, growing and evolving at an immeasurable rate with each telling. In this dynamic historical reproduction, the finalized plot lines formed the tribal story system in the eyes of people at the time. Its a permissionless, original world where everyone can participate and stories can blend into each other.
In a tweet, Timshel defined Loot as a large-scale multiplayer collaborative world-building experiment, a form of collective storytelling experimentation. A key element in collective narratives is the “narrative device.”
Creating an NFT largely involves crafting a narrative device. Someone once said that Loot is like a perfect writing inspiration, as the eight categories and five eras it defines provide a minimalist starting point for narrative. Most of them present a statement that is secular but carefree. In contrast, text-based NFTs don’t even have statements, leaving more room for interpretation. Rich media are not necessarily more effective when creating narrative devices. It may send a stronger message, but it may not necessarily be more enlightening. Like the revolutionary impact of the concept of oral formula in Homeric studies (Milman Parry), the Lootverse also has the potential to form a unique narrative formula that serves as a supporting structure for future narratives.
This could have been a charming modern (and retro) epic story, but from the get-go, the script didnt quite work out as it should. Until internal narrative issues are resolved, the real-world Lootverse is fully marketed and entering the speculative market. In the market, story elements first become targets of speculation and then become integral parts of scenarios in the story world. This core story gets a corresponding asset value.
For more information about AW narrative and culture, please refer to usPrevious article
Essentially, an autonomous world hosts an open content layer that builds its own narrative and Nomos, and the autonomy of the content allows the autonomous world to continue to function even after losing all developers. Game companies no longer control virtual items, characters, progression, players’ virtual possessions, and most importantly, the game’s underlying narrative. Games have complex internal logic and governance rules that are closer to a fully constructed Nomos than traditional forms of entertainment such as movies or pop music. Games often cover an entire mythology, spawning many stories, much like the Odaily Wars universe.
Decentralized technology has overcome the obstacles of tracking stories, tracing myths, modifying rules, and more. Therefore, it enables collaborative creation not only in narrative but also in maintaining Nomos. Stakeholders can retell stories or create new ones. They can also expand existing myths, or create an entirely new Nomos. They no longer need to overcome traditional technical, legal, financial and commercial barriers to build their own myths. Technology pushes cultural opportunities to their limits.
The more interactive it is, the more involved the players will be, the more people will remember the story, and the more important the story will become. In terms of interactivity, games are better than IP-style NFTs, which are better than plain text descriptions. Bibliotheca DAO initially envisions fully on-chain gaming as"The game that goes on forever", this starts from"Eternum"It can be seen from the naming that there is no"Clear"The game of possibility has a profound narrative seriousness. The development of the entire game is also open to community co-construction. Web3 MQ, as an application chain and L3 infrastructure provider, has also completed the construction of communication modules in the Eternum world. In such a new Nomos community, developers not only assume a certain tool development function, but also design products based on cultural and community understanding.
"Moving Castles"The relationship between content producers and consumers and the role of author and community interests are deeply explored. They are conducting innovative experiments, using participatory streaming formats as their main experiment, aiming to create"Permanently open text". with previous"Clear and complete information"The difference is that this text is open to everyone, and everyone has the right to interpret it, add to it, take away from it, and construct a new narrative based on the old one.
We can understand the content layer of games as autonomous worlds in this way: a game that is permanently open is not actually a game, but a text that is always open. Imagine a person named"contemporary history"online document, which has grown from very limited write access (big history) to now everyone has write access, and this document is being transcribed into a movie every moment: everyone is an actor in it. we can"Completely on-chain games"The term is seen as a way of describing this future scenario, which has the highest consensus.
The development of the Web3 field has revolutionized cultural creation and sharing. AW and decentralized technologies are changing the way we build and maintain Nomos. It provides greater space for collaborative creation and lowers the barrier to maintenance. However, this also brings new challenges, requiring us to think about how to deal with threats and abuse, and how to ensure an inclusive and equitable cultural opportunity.
In the Web3 era, we may see vibrant communities and more collaborative creations. Outside of a fragile and uncertain physical world, a new cultural form is growing.
References and sources
[ 1 ] https://www.mckinsey.com/featured-insights/mckinsey-explainers/what-is-the-metaverse
[ 2 ] https://about.fb.com/news/2021/10/founders-letter/
[ 3 ] https://www.businessinsider.com/metaverse-dead-obituary-facebook-mark-zuckerberg-tech-fad-ai-chatgpt-2023-5
[ 4 ] Peter Berger, The Sacred Canopy: Elements of a Sociological Theory of Religion, Open Road Integrated Media, New York, 2011 (First ed. 1967), p.19.
[ 5 ] Ibid. p.34.
[ 6 ] Ibid. p.40-41.
[ 7 ] Ibid. p.44.
[ 8 ] Robert Cover, Nomos and Narrative, Harvard Law Review, Vol. 97, 1983.
[ 9 ] Peter Berger, The Sacred Canopy: Elements of a Sociological Theory of Religion, Open Road Integrated Media, New York, 2011 (First ed. 1967), p.107.