Is this it?

My Trip to Decentraland

If this is the future, I’ll stick with the present.

Clark Boyd
7 min readApr 10, 2022


I’ve been pootling about in Decentraland for a little while now, trying to figure out why anyone would think this is the future. Conversely, I’m finally starting to understand the appeal of nostalgia.

See, the Web as we know it is a platform people can build on. This “metaverse” is supposed to be the next phase of technological evolution, but there is no universal metaverse platform. We can’t just log onto it; we have to select one of many individual platforms, few of which communicate with each other.

Of course, this is why Zuckerberg wants to seize the initiative and create a metaverse standard for us. He wants to do for the metaverse what Microsoft did for Web browsing with Internet Explorer in ‘95.

So far, brands (it’s always the brands, isn’t it?) are pumping money into one platform in particular: Decentraland.

As its name suggests, it proposes giving control to users, rather than the very centralised vision Mr Zuckerberg has for the metaverse.

Decentraland had a fashion week in late March, where Esteé Lauder gave out 10,000 free NFTs. And in Decentraland’s Luxury Fashion District, a single 16-square-metre parcel of land can sell for $15,000.

Real estate speculators (and by gum, they’re speculating hard on this one) have spent up to $500 million on metaverse “land” already.


They have transferred the surface elements of real-world economics (the $$$) to a virtual world where these elements have no underlying substance.

Land (real land) has financial value because of physical and geographical properties, as well as the conceptual value we ascribe to it.

In a virtual world, we don’t need another shopping district. We can instantly go anywhere, any time, so “location” takes on a new meaning. Your Gucci boutique can be next door to Dior or a million miles away in the metaverse. The difference is the same.



Clark Boyd

Tech/business writer, lecturer (Columbia), and data analyst. >500k views on Medium. I used to be with it, but then they changed what ‘it’ was.