What is the metaverse : It's Been a Minute What is the metaverse? How do you get to it? Why does it seem to dominate headlines every week? Is it possibly a sign of our dystopian future? Sam learns all about the metaverse and more with NPR technology correspondent Shannon Bond and NPR tech reporter Bobby Allyn. They define the metaverse, explain why companies are so eager to jump into it, and whether or not we should worry about it.

You can follow us on Twitter @NPRItsBeenAMin and email us at samsanders@npr.org.

Ok. I guess we'll talk about the metaverse.

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AUNT BETTY, BYLINE: Hey, y'all. This is Sam's Aunt Betty. This week, the metaverse explained. All right. Let's start the show.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

SAM SANDERS, HOST:

Hey, y'all. You're listening to IT'S BEEN A MINUTE from NPR. I'm Sam Sanders. And this week, we are talking about the metaverse. I know. I know. Wait. Before you stop listening, hear me out. The metaverse is here or coming, and we should know what it is.

So far, I know a few things about it. I know that it's virtual. I know that it's a big buzzword in Silicon Valley right now, but I'm still not exactly sure how it works or how I get to it or why Meta, the company, tried to sell me on the metaverse during last week's Super Bowl in the most dystopian way possible. Did you see this commercial? It was a story of an animatronic dog whose only escape from an unending life of despair and sorrow was seeing its friends in a virtual world, a metaverse, on nights and weekends, I think.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: (As character) Closing time. Head out, please. Stop playing, please.

SANDERS: It's a really visual thing, so just go watch the commercial on YouTube. But that wasn't it. There was yet another Super Bowl ad that mentioned the metaverse again.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MATTHEW MCCONAUGHEY: So while the others look to the metaverse and Mars, let's stay here and restore ours.

SANDERS: So apparently, if these Super Bowl ads are all I've got to go on right now, when it comes to metaverse, the choice is between a Matthew McConaughey or a Mark Zuckerberg or a sad animatronic dog, to which I say, gosh, that's dark.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

SANDERS: And I also say, again, still, what the heck is a metaverse?

BOBBY ALLYN, BYLINE: Dystopia.

SHANNON BOND, BYLINE: Existential dread.

(LAUGHTER)

BOND: I don't know. You saw the Meta Super Bowl commercial. Like, do you want to be that animatronic dog?

(LAUGHTER)

BOND: Does anybody?

SANDERS: That is Shannon Bond, NPR technology correspondent, and Bobby Allyn, NPR tech reporter.

ALLYN: Yeah, and sometimes I do want to - I want to escape this reality, but I want to keep my legs. And at least in...

SANDERS: OK.

ALLYN: ...Mark Zuckerberg's version of the metaverse, everyone is legless and just a floating torso. And I don't know. I kind of like my legs. I'm a pretty good runner. I mean, how - if I'm in the metaverse without legs, I lose my best asset. I don't know.

SANDERS: If none of this is clicking for you yet, it is not clicking for me, either. So I called up both Bobby and Shannon to make the metaverse make sense for me and for all of you. Also, we should mention right here that Facebook, or Meta, that company has been a sponsor of NPR. And while we're at it, so have Google, Microsoft and Apple - companies you'll hear mentioned later in this chat.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

BOND: So I think the most useful thing to think about the metaverse is rather than being a specific technology itself, it's actually - it's about rethinking the way we interact with technology and the way we use the internet. So...

SANDERS: OK.

BOND: ...Rewind to, you know, the - our childhoods. And, you know, the way you went online was dialing up over a - on a - probably a PC, like a desktop computer and...

SANDERS: Can we add that sound in post? I love that sound.

BOND: The modem sound? Me, too.

(SOUNDBITE OF DIAL-UP MODEM)

SANDERS: Yeah, yeah.

ALLYN: Yeah.

(LAUGHTER)

AUTOMATED VOICE: You've got mail.

BOND: And then fast forward, we all - you know, Apple invents the iPhone.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

STEVE JOBS: An iPod...

(LAUGHTER)

JOBS: ...A phone...

(APPLAUSE)

JOBS: Are you getting it?

BOND: We all get these smartphones, and suddenly, we have a little computer in our pocket. But we're still mainly mediated through a screen, right?

SANDERS: Yeah, yeah.

BOND: So a lot of visions of the metaverse include virtual reality or augmented reality, which is, like, you put on glasses, and you see the world around you, but then you also see, you know, virtual digital objects in it. That's the vision. It's a world. It's a world.

SANDERS: It's a world.

BOND: It's a virtual world...

SANDERS: It's a world.

BOND: ...That is immersive.

ALLYN: Yeah.

SANDERS: OK.

ALLYN: Yeah, yeah.

BOND: I think that the immersiveness is really - right? - that it's not - again, it's not mediated by the screen.

SANDERS: So where does the word metaverse actually come from? - because before Mark Zuckerberg tried to make it his own last year in that very awkward video...

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MARK ZUCKERBERG: Today we're going to talk about the metaverse. I want to share what we imagine is possible.

SANDERS: The word metaverse had been around for years, right?

BOND: Yeah, it actually dates back to a Neal Stephenson...

ALLYN: "Snow Crash," isn't it? Yeah, exactly.

BOND: ...Science fiction novel, "Snow Crash."

SANDERS: What is "Snow Crash" about?

BOND: About a dystopian future in which...

SANDERS: (Laughter).

BOND: ...The planet has mostly been ruined, and so people spend an enormous amount of their time in a - like, this sort of idealized virtual space. It is...

SANDERS: Oh.

BOND: ...Interesting that it has been adopted in Silicon Valley as this sort of good thing because it is very explicitly dystopian.

SANDERS: Why would they do that?

ALLYN: They would do that because, you know, major social media companies are sick of being beset by controversy. Like, the past six years has just been a steady drumbeat of negative headlines, and they want to move beyond the baggage of disinformation, misinformation, content moderation, all this stuff they're always getting in hot water over. And they see the metaverse - which, by the way, doesn't now exist, so talking about it kind of hurts your brain because they're talking about something that's like five, 10 years or even longer off from now. So it's kind of hard to imagine, but they're talking about it because it shifts the focus and it shifts the narrative on this futuristic thing that all these innovators out here can get excited about. It makes us - at least they hope it makes us forget about all the controversies tied to social media.

BOND: Yeah, and that's certainly the motivation, I think, for Meta to...

SANDERS: Yeah.

BOND: ...Dive into this. And I think, you know, more generally, like, you know, in tech circles, like, you know, everyone's always looking for the next thing, and this is the - people have been long been trying to make VR a thing, right? Like, VR...

SANDERS: Yeah.

BOND: ...Is not new, right? And so...

SANDERS: Yeah.

BOND: ...In some ways, this is a big land grab among these Big Tech giants - you know, not just Meta, but also Microsoft and, you know, even, you know, game-makers like Epic Games, which makes Fortnite. You know, this idea that this is going to be the next place where people do want to spend a lot of time and spend a lot of money, and so it's a bit of a race to just own the platform, right? So who's like - you know...

SANDERS: Yeah.

BOND: ...Apple basically created the contemporary smartphone. You know, Apple and Google really own smartphones. There are other companies that are really hoping they can own this next virtual stage.

SANDERS: So if Facebook wants to distract us from their issues with disinformation through Meta and the metaverse and if, say, Microsoft in its pursuit of the metaverse might be trying to distract us from the fact that it just bought a game company accused of pervasive sexual harassment, will it work? I mean, I've been hearing Zuckerberg talk about the metaverse for a few months now. I don't think any differently about Facebook or Mark Zuckerberg.

BOND: Yeah, and I think that's probably pretty fair, you know, from the outside perspective. I mean, I think they are trying to shift this conversation. I'm skeptical that it will work when it comes to thinking about the pressure from regulators - right? - and the pressure in Washington right now and, you know, the just huge skepticism because, of course, running into virtual reality doesn't mean you leave behind problems. You know, it's not like there can't be disinformation and harassment and, you know, terrible things happening, you know, in virtual reality, just the way they can happen, you know, on social media.

SANDERS: Yeah.

BOND: You know, I think where there maybe could be some success is more kind of insularly within Silicon Valley. So all of these companies are constantly competing against each other for talent, right? Like, they want to hire the best engineers. And you don't want to be sort of like the Kodak - right? - of Silicon Valley. You don't want to be the company that seems like it's - like, it's yesterday's technology. Like, VR and immersive platforms is definitely considered the next cool thing. So if they can successfully market themselves, frankly, to future employees as, come here, you get to work on this really awesome stuff, cutting-edge...

SANDERS: It's a draw for them.

BOND: Yeah, that could...

SANDERS: I get that, yeah.

BOND: ...Work. But I think it's a...

SANDERS: Yeah.

BOND: ...Big lift.

ALLYN: I was just going to say, you know, the last time there was a major shift like this for Facebook, I think, was when - right around the time that Facebook went public, I think in 2012. And Mark Zuckerberg made a huge bet on mobile. I mean, he was just like, the future is mobile. Everyone's going to be on their phones. Don't think about...

SANDERS: Well, that was true.

ALLYN: And you know...

SANDERS: That was true.

ALLYN: And you know what? That was a bet that actually paid off. So some people are like, I mean, he made a good bet on mobile. Will he also be making a smart and wise bet on the metaverse? And this one just feels a little bit squishy here because, I mean, right now, Sam - I mean, what is the metaverse right now but - it's just rebranded video games is what it is.

BOND: Yes.

(SOUNDBITE OF FLEVANS' "FLICKER")

SANDERS: Stay with us. Coming up, more with NPR's Shannon Bond and Bobby Allyn all about the metaverse.

(SOUNDBITE OF FLEVANS' "FLICKER")

SANDERS: Everyone is talking about metaverse, metaverse, metaverse, this immersive new virtual world, and my first question in response to those kind of statements is, don't we already have that? Don't we already have immersive worlds that you can get into already through your devices or smartphones or computers? There's Sims. There's Second Life. There's Fortnite. There's Roblox. Oculus has been around for a while. Isn't there already kind of a metaverse? We just don't like it yet.

ALLYN: There is.

SANDERS: In big numbers.

BOND: Yeah.

ALLYN: Yeah, there absolutely is. I mean, remember when everyone was playing Pokemon GO and people were, like, falling off cliffs trying to find Pokemon GOs (ph)?

SANDERS: That's the metaverse?

ALLYN: That's part of the metaverse. That's, like, augmented reality.

SANDERS: Oh, my God.

ALLYN: Yeah.

SANDERS: Pokemon GO is a metaverse.

ALLYN: Yeah.

SANDERS: So I've...

ALLYN: I mean...

SANDERS: ...Never been in the metaverse 'cause I refused to do that.

ALLYN: (Laughter).

SANDERS: That was crazy. I wasn't going to do that...

ALLYN: Yeah, I mean...

SANDERS: ...Walk into traffic chasing a Pokemon. Sorry, go ahead.

ALLYN: Exactly. Now, augmented reality and, you know, VR, virtual reality - these are all sort of features of the metaverse, and it does already exist now. There's lots of different experiences and games you can play with different headsets and glasses on. But what the metaverse really points to is, like, more of our life moving into this space. So, I mean, there's a lot of rumors circulating around Silicon Valley that Apple was trying to develop a VR headset, and everyone is just, like, you know, waiting with bated breath to see, like, what Tim Cook is going to cook up. But, you know, so...

SANDERS: What Tim Cook is going to cook up. I see what you did there, Bobby.

BOND: Good job (ph).

ALLYN: That was actually - that wasn't intentional. If I could go back and edit it, I would. But, yeah, I mean, think about it. So, like, instead of, like, FaceTiming your grandma, you can just put on this futuristic Apple-made headset and, like, walk around your grandma's house and see your grandpa and see how the dogs and cats are doing. I mean, so it's not just like playing video games and, like, interacting with people in, like, awkward conference rooms. But the idea is that, you know, more of our day-to-day lives are going to move to this sort of metaverse, augmented virtual reality and that we won't have to think twice about it.

BOND: That - again, sort of that vision of, like, I could do that and, like, really be in those spaces - like, that - the technology to do that, like, really seamlessly - or even, frankly, the technology to do it in the way that Meta has advertised it - like, if you watched Mark Zuckerberg's presentation or even seen some of the graphics they've used in their promotions for, like, the - for Horizon Worlds, which is this VR app that they've rolled out - like, even that is not actually what it looks like yet. What it looks like right now is, you know, there's - so I have one of these headsets. Use - Facebook bought this company called Oculus. They've rebranded it to Meta now. You know, you put on the headset. You have these controllers. You can do all kinds of things in VR, but it's still really basic. Everything's kind of blocky. You know, there's only so much you can do. And so, again, it's like the gap between here and there.

Frankly, kind of the - at this point, the more developed and mature versions, you know, of what we might call a metaverse is maybe something like Pokemon GO or like Fortnite, which, frankly, a lot of people aren't playing. You know, people aren't playing that in VR. They're playing that, like, on a screen. But the idea is it's like - it's more than just a game. And ultimately, the idea is all these things might link up together. But that doesn't exist yet. It's all still walled gardens.

SANDERS: You know, we have been talking about all of the downsides and the kind of absurdity of the metaverse and what the metaverse might become. But there is potential for this virtual world or virtual worlds, plural, to be really helpful and beneficial and life-changing for certain people. I'm talking about people who are disabled, who are elderly or can't leave their homes for whatever reason. This could be a chance to experience a lot of different activities from the comfort of your own home. And I could see that being a draw to a lot of different types of people.

BOND: Yeah, I think - I think that's right.

SANDERS: Do you think that that potential could be realized? I mean, 'cause there's a version of events where these spaces aren't hospitable to the folks that could benefit from them the most.

BOND: Yeah. I mean, I think that's the real question, right? And that's a lot about how you're building it. And I think there's certainly the potential for that. I mean, there are some really cool things you can do with this headset, right? Like, a lot of the VR video stuff is really neat. You feel like, you know, you can fly over Lake Tahoe, right? And you get to sort of have these experiences. You can - you know, you can go, you know, watch a video where it's like you're climbing Everest.

SANDERS: Yeah.

BOND: I mean, I think my skepticism about, like, just how inclusive some of this might be, you know, is around the fact that it feels like these companies are really trying to go for a very mainstream, large-as-possible audience. And I don't know that it's going to be necessarily built in. We've already seen issues with, like, you know, how they're building basic features. So one of the things that, you know, Facebook belatedly rolled out in its Horizon Worlds metaverse app that I was just talking about is putting, like, basically like a boundary so that someone else's avatar can't, like, come up and, like, walk right into your avatar and, like, grope you. Like, they had to actually put, like, a...

SANDERS: Wait. Wait.

BOND: ...3-foot barrier.

SANDERS: There's groping in the metaverse?

BOND: There have been people who've complained that they have gone on to some of these apps - not just Facebook's one, but including Facebook's one - and...

ALLYN: Like, groping is a minor offense on the metaverse. I mean, there's, like, violent crimes happening on the metaverse.

BOND: When people come up and harass you, right? People come up, and they - you know, they come up and start screaming things at you. Or, you know, there's a lot of this, like, you know, commenting on your avatar's boobs or whatever. Like, you know, there's - people are gross. And so people are - unsurprisingly, people are gross in the metaverse. And so they've sort of belatedly been rolling in kind of more safety precautions. Like, you can click a button, and suddenly nobody can talk to you, you can't talk to anybody and you're kind of protected. But I think it's all about how it's built. And I think one thing we know from these companies is they haven't had a great track record in their previous products of building these things.

SANDERS: Well, that's the thing. Have they learned anything from the previous things that they've made that have become in many ways toxic for a lot of people? Do you - either of you - see any actual growth or learning from these Big Tech companies as they try to plant a flag in a new world that is the metaverse?

BOND: They talk about it. But, I mean, I think this example of, you know, just seeing just how many kids are in these spaces that are allegedly for adults - like, that just seems to me such a self-own for a company that is, like, literally just, like, about to be facing this, you know, bill in the Senate that would put really strict regulations on, like, the safety settings they have to offer to kids on their existing products. It's like - you know, it makes me doubt, like, how much they're really bringing into this from their past experience.

SANDERS: All right, last question for you both. For our listeners who have heard this conversation now and are still a bit confused, in 30 seconds or less, Shannon, Bobby, two tech correspondents, tell people what they really need to know about the metaverse. Thirty seconds or less - should they love it, leave it, hate it, ditch it, focus on this or that? The one thing they need to know about this - go.

BOND: If you're into video games, you know, I think these headsets could be pretty cool, but I think they're still, at this point, very niche.

SANDERS: OK.

ALLYN: One thing you need to know about the metaverse is you can probably ignore it for the next five years.

SANDERS: (Laughter).

BOND: I also co-sign that statement.

SANDERS: Yes. On that note, we're going to go to break. You're listening to IT'S BEEN A MINUTE from NPR. This is a show in the real world, not the metaverse. I'm talking with Shannon Bond and Bobby Allyn, two tech correspondents for NPR. After the break, we're going to talk about things other than the metaverse.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

BOND: Sam, I feel like we missed our opportunity to do this all in a horrible VR Zoom.

(LAUGHTER)

ALLYN: Yeah, next time we all talk, let's do it in Fortnite with headsets on. That would be fun.

SANDERS: I would have spontaneously combusted, I guarantee you.

(LAUGHTER)

SANDERS: You're listening to IT'S BEEN A MINUTE from NPR. I'm Sam Sanders, joined by two NPR all-stars - Shannon Bond and Bobby Allyn. They both cover tech for NPR. I want you both to join me now and play my favorite game. It's called Who Said That?

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THE REAL HOUSEWIVES OF ATLANTA")

KANDI BURRUSS: Who had been saying that?

PORSHA WILLIAMS: Who said that?

SANDERS: You've both played it before, right?

BOND: Yes.

SANDERS: Who won last time?

BOND: I won. I totally won last time.

ALLYN: Shannon always smokes me, and I'm expecting no less this time, so...

SANDERS: Shannon, how do you feel as a returning champion?

BOND: Confident as ever.

SANDERS: Wow. We love to hear it. We love to hear it. On that note, we're going to start the game now. It's really simple. I share a quote from the week of news. You tell me who said it. I'll give you lots of hints. There are no buzzers and no timers. Just yell out the answer as soon as you got it. OK?

BOND: All right.

SANDERS: Let's go. Here's the first quote. "Starting today, our news feed will now be known as feed. Happy scrolling."

BOND: Meta.

(SOUNDBITE OF VICTORY TUNE)

BOND: Facebook.

SANDERS: Meta, yes. What was that whole thing about?

BOND: They don't want to call news feed news feed anymore. I mean, I think their idea (laughter) - I don't know. Are they trying to just distance themselves from the news? I feel like that's a little late.

SANDERS: So this announcement that I was quoting - that was an announcement from Meta, which is what Facebook is now called.

BOND: Yeah.

SANDERS: They announced earlier this week, saying that the Facebook news feed is now just going to be known by feed. So in an email sent to The Verge, a Facebook spokesperson said that this change is, quote, "just a name change to better reflect the diverse content people see on their feeds." Wow. Hooray. They fixed it.

BOND: Oh, yeah, it's definitely - all the problems are gone.

SANDERS: They did it.

BOND: 'Cause there's no news in it, so, you know, what's the problem?

ALLYN: The funnier news is that Meta employees are now known as Metamates. Did you see that, Sam?

SANDERS: Metamates - like, for real? Are you lying to me?

ALLYN: Zuckerberg said that's one of the company's values.

BOND: And he said it with a straight face...

SANDERS: Wow.

BOND: ...As far as we know (laughter).

SANDERS: Oh, my God. This next quote - just tell me what I'm talking about or what institution I'm talking about. It was a weird news story from this week. Here's the quote. "On behalf of our local church, I, too, am sincerely sorry that this error has resulted in disruption to the sacramental lives of a number of the faithful."

BOND: This is the Catholic priest who was saying the baptism wrong.

(SOUNDBITE OF VICTORY TUNE)

BOND: And now anybody who he baptized for, like - what? - like, decades is not actually baptized.

SANDERS: I know.

BOND: And also, all of their subsequent sacraments, including marriage...

SANDERS: Yeah.

BOND: ...Are invalid.

SANDERS: And they don't get to go to heaven. Is this what they're saying? It's all so weird.

BOND: I think - I read that, too, and I was just like, I can't - I just...

SANDERS: Yeah.

BOND: I had to close the tab (laughter).

SANDERS: Yeah. The quote ends with this sentence. "This is why I pledge to take every step necessary to remedy the situation for everyone impacted." That quote comes from Bishop Thomas Olmsted and a statement put out by the Diocese of Phoenix. And we should clarify. This statement wasn't by the priest himself. It was issued by his superior because the priest himself resigned.

ALLYN: Oh, my gosh.

SANDERS: What he was getting wrong, though, I feel like you could just forgive it. He was saying, we baptize you instead of I baptize you.

BOND: Was he just using the royal we?

SANDERS: Yeah. To which I say, yeah, 'cause God was involved, too. Right?

BOND: Right?

SANDERS: Me and Jesus are baptizing you. I'm OK with that.

ALLYN: I mean, if I know anything about God, I'd say he's a stickler of a copy editor.

(LAUGHTER)

ALLYN: So, I mean, I think the priest has a point.

SANDERS: Listen. I'm someone who talks for a living, and I get something wrong at least once a week. And they haven't fired me yet.

ALLYN: (Laughter).

BOND: You haven't put thousands of people's mortal souls in danger, Sam.

SANDERS: I've officiated several weddings at this point, and I've gotten some of the words wrong.

BOND: (Laughter).

SANDERS: I had to do a wedding a few weeks ago.

ALLYN: Yes.

SANDERS: And you know, like, the part where you have them repeat after you, like, I take you from this day forward to be with (vocalizing)? And I, like, stumbled, and I had the groom say something slightly different than what the bride said, and I just ran with it. Oh, well, they're still married.

BOND: Those people aren't married, Sam.

SANDERS: If the happy couple is listening, none of that happened, and I'm sorry.

(LAUGHTER)

SANDERS: What's the score right now in this game?

ALLYN: Shannon 2, me 0.

SANDERS: OK, OK.

ALLYN: Shannon is a little punchier than me. She has just higher processing speed. I just have - I'm just buffering over here...

(LAUGHTER)

ALLYN: ...Just trying to, like, understand what's going on.

SANDERS: Buffering, buffering, buffering. You're like Web 1.0. She is high-speed Wi-Fi.

ALLYN: (Laughter).

SANDERS: High-speed Wi-Fi. You're dial-up.

BOND: I'm just - I'm in the metaverse, guys. Keep up.

SANDERS: (Laughter) All right, last quote. Tell me who said this, and fill in the blank. "As we prepare to enter our second century, we are developing new and exciting ways to bring the magic of blank to people wherever they are, expanding storytelling to storyliving."

ALLYN: Oof.

SANDERS: "We can't wait to welcome residents to these beautiful and unique blank communities, where they can live their lives to the fullest."

BOND: I don't know, but it sounds also very dystopian.

SANDERS: Yeah, dystopia inc.

BOND: Wait. It's not the metaverse, is it?

(SOUNDBITE OF BUZZER)

SANDERS: It is a real-life metaverse that is being created, brick and mortar, by one of the biggest entertainment companies of the world.

BOND: Is it Disney?

(SOUNDBITE OF VICTORY TUNE)

SANDERS: Yeah.

ALLYN: Oh, there you go.

SANDERS: Yeah. Y'all didn't see this story this week?

BOND: No.

SANDERS: All right, let me tell you about it. It's so creepy. So that quote comes from Disney from Josh D'Amaro. He's the chairman of Disney parks and experiences. And in this statement, they were announcing that Disney is going to build a new master-planned community in the California desert called Cotino, with special Disney touches. Basically, you can go live in a new kind of Disney World. Would y'all ever do it?

ALLYN: I would rather a new Disney World than the Metaverse, so maybe.

BOND: I was going to say, I feel like there's a long history of, like, utopian communities in the California desert, and they never end well.

SANDERS: Well, there you go.

ALLYN: Yeah, that's true.

BOND: I mean, the people who are going to choose to do that, they're going to think - they're going to want to be around each other, but that's not a choice I want to make.

SANDERS: And let me be clear. Not all Disney adults - not all Disney adults, but the ones who are going to go live in the Disney residential community are going to be like the die-hards. And let me tell you...

BOND: Right.

SANDERS: ...I don't need to be around that energy. I'm sorry. So The Verge has a write-up about what the plans are. And according to The Verge, it's going to be a community of 1,900 housing units. It'll be built in the city of Rancho Mirage in California's Coachella Valley, which will have clear turquoise waters and shopping, dining and entertainment, as well as a beachfront hotel and a clubhouse hosting Disney programming and entertainment throughout the year.

BOND: Like, beachfront on their artificial water in the middle of the desert.

SANDERS: (Laughter) Yes. And members of the public can buy a day pass to go, but...

BOND: What?

SANDERS: ...There'll be a section reserved for residents aged 55 and up.

BOND: Oh, no, no, no. See, then you're just living in a theme park. I don't want to live in a theme park and have people come look at me like a zoo animal.

SANDERS: Yeah. I don't get who this is for, but it's for somebody. That somebody is not me.

ALLYN: (Laughter).

SANDERS: But it's for somebody. With that, who won the game? I want to say, Shannon, you swept this one.

BOND: Woohoo.

ALLYN: Yeah, I called it. I think I had such flagging spirits at the top that I didn't even try very hard. I was just like, eh, Shannon's going to win.

SANDERS: Wow.

ALLYN: It's fine.

SANDERS: Wow. No, here's what happened. You tried your best. She was just better.

ALLYN: (Laughter).

SANDERS: You're dial-up. She's Wi-Fi. We talked about this already, and it's OK. It's OK. Shannon, how do you feel? Speech. Go ahead.

BOND: You know, I'd like to thank my 5-year-old and the academy...

SANDERS: Yeah, yeah.

BOND: ...And most of all, Mark Zuckerberg for giving us something to talk about.

SANDERS: There you go. He always does, doesn't he? Oh, my goodness.

BOND: Yep.

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SANDERS: Bobby, Shannon, this was such a delight. I always love it when the two of you come on. You were hearing from Bobby Allyn and Shannon Bond, two tech reporters for NPR. I'm hoping that we can all hang out together one day, perhaps in a master-planned Disney community, maybe even "Ratatouille" themed.

ALLYN: Into it. I'll be there.

SANDERS: Thank y'all so much. Come back anytime.

BOND: Thanks, Sam.

ALLYN: Thanks, Sam.

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AUNT BETTY: Now it's time to end the show as we always do. Every week, listeners share the best thing that happened to them all week. We encourage folks to brag, and they do. Let's hear a few of those submissions.

ELLEN: Hi, Sam. This is Ellen (ph) in St. Louis. And the best part of my week has been kitten-sitting four little kittens. Say hi, kitty cats.

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ELLEN: Aww, hi. It's dinnertime.

REBECCA: Hi, Sam. This is Rebecca (ph) in Delaware. The best thing that's happened so far this week is that I completed a 3,000-piece puzzle that I started back in November, and now I'll be able to eat on my dining room table again.

RENEE: It's Renee (ph) from Durham, N.C. I got to go to Vegas over the weekend with some friends I moved away from about a year and a half ago, and we went hiking and ate good food and laughed so hard. It was easily the best time I'd had since the beginning of the pandemic.

HAL: Hi, Sam. This is Hal (ph) in Chicago. And the best thing that happened to me all week - or all year - is this morning I heard that I was accepted into one of the top-ranked MFA in photography programs in the country. At 58 years old, this opens up a whole new chapter of my life, and I'm insanely excited.

MARIA: This is Maria (ph) calling from Chicago. The last six years, I have been a teacher hoping to eventually make it to law school. This last year, I decided to take a leap of faith, and the best part of my week was being admitted to the UC Berkeley School of Law. While I'm really sad to leave the classroom, I'm also so excited because I get to be the first in my family to pursue a professional degree. It's a dream come true.

ALICIA PHILLEY: Hi, Sam and Aunt Betty. This is Alicia Philley (ph) in Austin, Texas. The best thing that happened to me all week was watching my teenage daughter walk into her high school this morning wearing her fancy, new thrift store suit for the National Honor Society induction ceremony that's happening this evening. She has had, like so many teens in this country, such a hard year and a half online schooling and then adjusting to being back in person. And I'm so happy to have this moment to pause and see her get to celebrate all her accomplishments, and it just melts my heart. Thank you so much for your show.

ELLEN: So happy to share this with you and your listeners.

HAL: Take care.

REBECCA: Bye-bye.

SANDERS: Thanks to Ellen, Rebecca, Renee, Hal, Maria and Alicia. Listeners, you can share the best part of your week at any point throughout any week. Just record yourself and send that voice memo to us via email - samsanders@npr.org. That's samsanders@npr.org.

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SANDERS: All right, this week's episode of IT'S BEEN A MINUTE was produced by Jinae West, Anjuli Sastry Krbechek, Andrea Gutierrez and Liam McBain. Our intern is Aja Drain. Our fearless editor is Jordana Hochman, and our big boss is NPR's senior VP of programming, Anya Grundmann. All right, listeners, till next time, be good to yourselves. I'm Sam Sanders. We'll talk soon.

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