A computer-generated landscape that somehow resembles the word 'metaverse' and a number of virtual avatars wandering around.

Welcome to Takram’s Newsletter — a regular digest of news, projects, events and thoughts, keeping you up to date with our studios in Tokyo, London, New York and Shanghai.


This spring one of our collaborators asked our London studio to map out critical concerns about the ways people are social on the internet today. In this month’s newsletter we want to share some of the more salient parts of this research.



What it means to be social online has taken shifts and turns this past year. The formation of social life online is driven by a wide variety of events, including social media acquisitions, mass media exposure, and changes in legislation around the globe. For us this meant having to produce a pointed piece of research capturing both the breath of the online landscape as well as the connections between the elements that make it possible to be social on the internet today.

Expanding boundaries of digital expression

Our research looks into how incoming generations of creators are challenging and re-contextualising creative digital expression. From the boom in tools for Vtubing to the rise of the one-person CG show, creators are intimate with and living their online through their tools.


This expansion is brought forward by influential cultural movements such as Vtubing in which a streamer displays a live generated animation based on camera tracking. These movements influence the development of tools, driving the morphing together of technologies and tools from the the film, photography, and games sectors.


YouTube show *Xanadu* carves out a corner of the Metaverse with performance-driven CG


When Creators Meet the Metaverse: A Survey on Computational Arts

A photorealistic virtual avatar standing in a spaceship drifting in space, looking straight at us.

Screenshot from My Alter Ego unleashed into the Metaverse — Xanadu

Shifting forms of misuse and abuse

Surveying a diverse range of metaverse spaces ranging from established platforms such as VrChat to emerging crypto trading platforms has confirmed the well-documented challenges with ensuring accessibility and safety for users.


The ways in which misuse and abuse happen are very much related to the format of digital experiences and the expressive affordances these experiences provide to users. The growth of decentralized finance and corresponding growth in scams and theft has gained a lot of attention in the last year. However focussing only on financial crypto crimes misses the point. Digital spaces are notoriously hard to facilitate, with misuse often only a click away. Many spaces also tilt in favor of enabling interaction, expression, and publishing over ensuring the creation of safe spaces.


Metaverse app allows kids into virtual strip clubs


Ongoing documentation of grifts and scams in the metaverse

A neon-filled 3D virtual world gate with a number of signs warning that there is adult content beyond.

Screenshot from entry to adult-only section of VRChat

Changing notions of governance and ownership

It is difficult to talk about misuse and abuse without considering who owns digital spaces as well as what structures are used to resolve conflicts. Ownership and government is closely tied to access which is very uneven and highly contingent upon which community someone is part of. Some of the online social spaces to emerge in recent years have tried to address challenges by embracing hybrid forms of ownership, being in part decentralised and part centralised.


There are signs pointing to changing views on the nature of governance online. Recent years have seen increased interest in reworking the rights of digital users from academic communities and government institutions alike. Policies like the recent Digital Services Act in the EU manifest this newfound interest — asserting that users have the right to access and understand the algorithms used in online spaces.


Imagining an additional set of fundamental rights for life online


Examining visions of surveillance in Oculus’ data and privacy policies

A table showing new digital rights and the status of each. For example, the status of "the right to be offline" is shown as "introduced in some countries".

Status overview of the new digital rights. From New digital rights: Imagining additional fundamental rights for the digital era, Computer Law & Security Review, Volume 44, 2022

Emerging perspectives on moral implications

It is easy to point to the many surface-level effects brought by the ways people are social online today. Whilst observing these is essential, it is just as important to consider the moral implications of differnet social media technologies.


Philosophers have multiple tried to describe the moral implications of life online in a variety of ways. Being social online has certain direct ethical impacts on either the user or other parties they engage with. At the same time there are also indirect impacts, effects which result from the aggregate effects of all interactions and behaviours. In addition to these two perspectives it is clearly also important to consider structural factors of societies shaped by online social life — the surveillance capitalism tied to most social networks today is one such structural factor impacting any moral reasoning.


Towards a Digital Pluriverse


Social Networking and Ethics

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