Interesting. The acquisition and implementation of knowledge intersects practices and builds upon the senses to include the mind, consciousness, and forms. Can the metaverse expand on the sensory exploration of the dharma or will it reduce it to crude digital artifacts that deconstruct investigation and understanding of the whole?
The metaverse may represent a multimodal platform for integrating forms, senses, and communities. It may also proliferate their fragmentation. The sangha will remain central to cultivating wisdom and using the platform skillfully.
On its own the metaverse merely represents digital artifacts that can readily be navigated independently within a prespecified container. The contents of that container evolve continuously, often as a result of contributions from the users who have different goals. What arises from engagement of the platform (wisdom, ignorance, ambivalence) is managed through code, automation, design artifacts, and other users.
Marketing for the platform is surely to confuse the technology with the wisdom and insights that come from investigating the dharma and engaging the sangha. The digital platform is a technology stack, and not a spiritual stack. It can be designed skillfully and help clarify one’s understanding or it can be a sensory distraction without sufficient guidance to cultivate wisdom.
These digital tools are another (possibly static) means to investigating the dharma but do not replace close supervision and mentoring. They may in fact become a barrier to sustained practice, attention, and the cultivation of wisdom. Hindrances may proliferate. The technology, their design, and current trends of adoption remain immature. The platform’s design will unintentionally influence what is brought to mind (quality issues, inaccessible content, etc.). The point of concentration. Not a trivial issue.
It will be interesting to see how these tools may influence the future of buddhism, spirituality, and practice. Teraverse, as a learning management system, faces the constraints of other LMS technologies. Considerable funding will be required to transform the use of these technologies to something that qualitatively engages practitioners.
A few technical considerations that are handled easily through human interaction but require considerable technical expertise and design considerations:
Personas/User Stories/Skill-Practice Levels
Security/ Access Management
Facebook navigation and recommendation algorithms have recently come to light as emphasizing frustration and hate. Whereas the dharma depends on algorithms that emphasize compassion, equanimity, and mindfulness. An issue comes to mind of how to reconcile these conflicts, skillfully, and without considerable distraction.
The complexity of the above technical specifications is significantly more than the requirements built into the design of sutta central and the dhamappada taxonomies. This is more than just text, and needs to engage all the senses if investigation is to mirror every day in person experience. A reliance on text and crude VR cartoons will likely be insufficient, for most audiences. Funds spent designing and managing the platform will have clear opportunity costs.