When did the metaverse die?

NPR published a reader-selected list of the top 100 Science Fiction and Fantasy books.  The list is wonderful and great fun can be had finding new stuff to read or debating the relative merits of the books.

I was thrilled to see one of my all-time favorites on the list, Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson.  If you haven’t read this book and you care at all about science fiction at all, you’d probably enjoy it.

However, I was taken off-guard by their book description:

“Weaving contemporary imagery with Sumerian myths, Stephenson’s third novel revolves around a mysterious “pseudo-narcotic” Snow Crash that is capable of affecting people both within — and without — the alternate-reality Internet called the “Metaverse.””

The Metaverse of the book is essentially the same virtual reality that everyone was discussing.  I think you used goggles to get to it instead of “jacking in” ala Neuromancer, but same general concept.  I know I’m reading to much into a 40-word blurb, but doesn’t it seem to say that the quest for virtual reality is over because we have the internet?  Bah!

I still hope for compelling, readily available immersive computing environments.  Of course it will be over the Internet, or whatever replaces the Internet as a communications bus, but just as the world wide web isn’t defined as the Internet itself, so too will VR ride on top of and extend the Internet.

Please, please don’t say anything to imply that the Metaverse is already here.  I want my house!

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