Working Down The Metaverse

Moonlighting in the Virtual Economy

Andrew Spence
5 min readNov 17, 2021
Moon River by Beth Hoeckel

All societies end up wearing masks.

Jean Baudrillard.

We all know someone who has immersed themselves into virtual digital worlds.

The kids playing Fortnite or The Elder Scrolls into the night.

The executive addicted to her emails and social media.

The roadrunner totally immersed in their podcast.

Over the last few years, our digital world has become more dominant.

New technology arrives and different generations use it in different ways — often scaring the hell out of the elders. This isn’t new…

If Pac-Man had affected us as kids, we’d all be running around in dark rooms, munching pills and listening to repetitive electronic music.

HT Marcus Brigstocke #GenXJoke

Last week, Facebook rebranded to Meta.

Was this a land-grab for the new infrastructure of the internet, a distraction from regulators’ pressure, or a ploy to stop their engineers from leaving?

What is the Metaverse?

we are building a 1-to-1 map of almost unimaginable scope. When it’s complete, our physical reality will merge with the digital universe.

Kevin Kelly, Wired, 2019.

If anyone has been able to spend more than five minutes speaking to a teenager 👏 you will soon realise that their virtual world IS their world.

These virtual worlds will be connected to what we have built over the last twenty years. The online marketplaces and platforms, digital assets, identities. Connected with 2.5 billion with phones, tablets, consoles, laptops, headsets.

This is where we will go to socialise, play, create, work, trade, and to flourish.

It will utilise virtual reality, distributed ledgers, computer vision, DAOs, machine learning, tokens.

For more reading on the Metaverse, I recommend Matthew Ball’s work.

What’s The Appeal of Wearing a ‘Digital Mask’?

Photo by NashRuckman from #MetaverseFestival at Decentraland

Why would people want to immerse themselves in virtual worlds and wear ‘digital masks’?

The world outside is perceived by some as increasingly dangerous. We have airborne viruses that can make us ill and angry people who will attack those with different views. It is no surprise that people want to create their own safer worlds and seek solace behind different identities, and masks.

However, the appeal is more positive in my view.

Decentraland is a virtual world that is designed and governed by its own users, using a Decentralised Autonomous Organisation (DAO). Since Facebook’s rebrand, its token, $Mana has soared by over 300% in value. You can buy land, then build whatever content and experiences you want including music concerts, games, casinos, art shows, exchanges. Recently 12,600 square meters of virtual land was sold in Decentraland for about $1 million.

Will Meta Be Better?

Meta — mĕt′ə — adjective Making or showing awareness of reference to oneself or to the activity that is taking place, especially in an ironic or comic way.

Facebook generates the majority of its revenue from advertising in North America.

To keep growing, it needs to get regulators off its back, monitise its users outside of its home market, and stop its software engineers from quitting.

In 2019, it made big announcements on a new digital currency called, Libra.

Facebook’s rebrand to Meta is from the same playbook as Libra.

It’s not a technology land-grab per se, but all about attracting and keeping its’ workers.

Having one company run the metaverse scares people for obvious reasons — but this will not happen.

Black Mirror Vs Meta — Source @Cypher2140

Working Down The Metaverse


As the pandemic hit the Philippines, people in Cabanatuan City found a way to ease the hardship brought on by lockdowns — playing video games. Axie Infinity, allows players to earn income through nonfungible tokens, or NFTs, and cryptocurrencies by breeding, battling and trading digital pets called Axies.

I have given plenty of other examples of workers using platforms to organise their work from driver collectives in Jakarta to rideshare platform cooperatives in New York. And individuals and teams funding initiatives using DAOs from musicians to writers, to baseball fans trying to fund and govern an NBA franchise.

The metaverse will not only be a digital playground, but also where we work.

The boundaries between work and play becoming increasingly porous for the decentralised workforce.

For those working in organisations and teams, there will be more VR tools to collaborate. For example, Facebook launched, Horizon Workrooms, a space for teams to connect, collaborate and develop ideas.

Your new office? Horizon Workrooms by Meta

The Metaverse is Something We Make

the increasing virtualisation of our lives zooming us towards mass neuroticism in a ghastly mass synergy of fetishism and frigidity.

Will Self.

To some people, this is the stuff of dystopian nightmares. Large, unregulated, and ungovernable tech firms ruling how we perceive the world and make a living.

It is important that as a society we discuss and shape how the virtual world operates before it is too late to change.

In my work on the impact of blockchain and Web3 technologies on work, and careers, one implication is that the firm shrinks.

Organisations will not need to control thousands of workers on restrictive contracts when they can just pull from a liquid workforce on peer-to-peer platforms. Centralised organisations are losing power to individuals.

In competitive industries, it’s important to understand this shift, and use it to attract and retain the workers needed.

Workers want more equity, flexibility, and autonomy. Same as ever, but they will vote with their feet when the job market is in their favour.

Problem solving in teams — tap into the ability of groups who are experienced solving problems in virtual environments to solve work problems.

Future of Education — the metaverse might provide a rich environment for mass learning. The best positioned might be those who can provide digital storytelling, gamification, machine learning rather than those institutions with the best researchers or historical reputation.

All societies end up wearing masks.

The metaverse raises lots of questions around ethics, economics, sociology, and inclusion.

We need to start working out and building the kind of society we want, in both the real and virtual worlds we inhabit.

This article was originally published on Workforce Futurist Newsletter on November 2nd 2021. Read the Full Article HERE.

Andrew Spence is an independent Workforce Strategist.

You can connect with him on Twitter, or on LinkedIn.



Andrew Spence

Passionate about making work better. Writes Workforce Futurist Newsletter.