Metaverse in Indonesia: A Hype or Hope?
March 4, 2022 4:04 pm ||
Penulis: Zakiah Fadhila
Editor: Trevilliana Eka Putri
The public cannot help but pay attention to Joko Widodo’s speech on the Nahdlatul Ulama’s 34th Muktamar, Indonesia’s largest Islamic organization’s event, because he mentioned Metaverse as if the fame that Metaverse has gained lately is not enough. According to Jokowi, Metaverse will provide the adherents with a virtual space so that worship activities such as da’wah and Quran reading can be done by meeting each other in that virtual world, unlike the current method, which is only using video conference[i]. It seems the idea of playing Ping-Pong without using the actual equipment with Mark Zuckerberg back five years ago motivates him all too well that he also wants to utilize Metaverse in Indonesia[ii]. Not only Jokowi, but several government high-ups also show their excitement about the development of Metaverse in Indonesia. Johnny G. Plate, Indonesia’s current Minister of Communication and Information Technology, said that Indonesia has a great potential to develop Metaverse because of its excellence of noble values and its local wisdom[iii]. His statement unavoidably attracted so many questions from the public, for only God and Plate himself know what he means by that. Moreover, as for the current update, according to Suharso Monoarfa, Indonesia’s current Minister for National Development Planning, Indonesia has been focusing on developing a digital version of the new nation’s capital in Metaverse as it is needed to accommodate the needs of the times[iv].
In the context of Metaverse in Indonesia, These statements by the high-ups, which indicate a sense of interest, make it tempting to discuss the answer to this question; Will it be just another easy-to-forget hype or a hopeful revolution for Indonesia? This writing attempts to see to what extent Indonesia is ready to welcome such technology. Are their efforts worth the optimism they are trying to display? Through this writing, I’d like to argue that even if the current optimism brought by the government seems convincing to succeed, this commentary section believes that Metaverse in Indonesia will be just another mere hype and another stagnant agenda. To prove my argument, I will reflect on “Making Indonesia 4.0”, one of the previous digital revolution national agendas, and elaborate on the public’s complaints and concerns by seeing various responses from them on the internet.
“Making Indonesia 4.0”: A Reflection
Though having different purposes in general, both agendas mainly need advanced technology in order to succeed. Thus, we can analyze Making Indonesia 4.0 as a reflection since it is also one of the digital revolution national agendas. In the planning of Making Indonesia 4.0, which was first introduced to the public in 2018, the government found at least ten challenges[v]. From 10 challenges, in the context of the development of Metaverse in Indonesia, I found one relevant challenge that even today’s government still cannot solve yet. It is the lack of technology and digital infrastructure[vi]. To build a perfect Metaverse digital world means Indonesia will need technology that can provide a strong signal. Transitioning from 4G to 5G will be the essential part. The implementation of 5G is undoubtedly not a sudden moment of realization for the Indonesian government. It was already written as one of the challenges on their report from 2018 regarding their Making Indonesia 4.0’s strategy. Several efforts had been made for years, such as forming a special task force[vii], yet even until 2020, complex technical issues kept popping up[viii]. Even Plate himself declared that the commercialization of 5G in Indonesia should not be rushed[ix]. 2022 remarks four years since, but Indonesia still seems not ready to implement it as 5G is still limited. Experts predicted 5G in Indonesia might be broadly used later, three more years from 2021[x]. However, bear in mind that the prediction can only come true when the smartphone’s price is affordable enough for everyone, which might also be challenging[xi]. In the world of massive technology development and a fast-paced digital world that won’t wait for anything, will this progress be too slow to catch and match Indonesia’s optimistic dream? A dream to be the leader of digital transformation in the world?
The lack of digital technology and digital infrastructure is just one challenge I believe matters most. Not to mention any other relevant challenges such as the never-ending funding problems that unavoidably must overlap with the first one as if the progress cannot be more stagnant than it already is.
Public’s Responses on The Internet
The data being used in this commentary is primarily taken from Twitter search results based on a built query list. The following steps are performed in the data collection. First, a Twitter query was built by identifying related keywords and setting a time frame. The final list of hashtags being used to retrieve the data is as follows:
(Jokowi OR Joko Widodo OR Kominfo OR Menkominfo OR NU OR Mengaji OR Virtual OR Pandemi) AND (Metaverse)
To see the dynamics of Metaverse’s discussions on Twitter for a month, the time frame of the data collection is set from 15 December 2021, a week before Jokowi’s speech on the Nahdlatul Ulama’s 34th Muktamar, to 15 January 2022.
Second, we scraped search results of the built query using Twint (Twitter scraping tool written in Python). The types of interactions included in these results are both direct mentions and engagements (reply to, user to mentioned user, and quote retweet, likes, and retweets included). A total of 1,561 tweets were obtained from scraping the built query within the time frame.
As seen from our data, Metaverse in Indonesia was highly discussed by the public on the day
President Jokowi mentioned Metaverse in his opening speech (23/12).
There are various responses from the public on Twitter. Public’s reactions that we found mainly indicate that they are fully aware of the biggest challenge that Indonesia faces; lack of digital infrastructure that later caused so many data leakage cases in Indonesia. Highly believe they are aware of this because they are also victims of data leakage. Two common cases that have become a shared experience among the public are the leak of ID Numbers and the personal phone number (they often receive messages from unknown numbers). One of the complaints is from user @ucuupppppppp whose tweet expresses how tired the user is from receiving SMSs or Whatsapp Messages that offer an online loan or online gambling.
Aside from data leakage, the public also complained about how the digitized government services neither make the bureaucracy accessible for the people nor function properly. Thus according to them, with the current situation, developing and implementing Metaverse in Indonesia is such an unrealistic dream the government tries to achieve.
Not only that, but one of the exciting responses also showcased a concern about the potential absence of safe space, especially for women, when several sexual harassment cases happened in the trial of Metaverse, which Horizon World did. Though it didn’t happen in Indonesia, or perhaps not yet, I argue their fear becomes relevant by looking at how bad Indonesia is at handling sexual harassment cases[xii]. With such a law that is so loose to the point it cannot even side with the victims, will Indonesia netizens get busier defending justice on the internet once Metaverse is fully developed?
In conclusion, by reflecting on Making Indonesia 4.0, whose one of fundamental challenges still has not been solved yet and by seeing various responses on Twitter that contain complaints and concerns by the public, The preparation of Metaverse’s development in Indonesia is undoubtedly far from ready and is potentially to become another stagnant progress like the previous agendas. Many homework needs to be solved first before taking more steps ahead as overlapping problems need to be avoided.
[i] Voi.id, 2021. Metaverse di Kepala Jokowi adalah Mengaji Virtual, Bagaimana Visi Metaverse di Kepala Banyak Futuris? [online] VOI. Available at: https://voi.id/bernas/116817/metaverse-di-kepala-jokowi-adalah-mengaji-virtual-bagaimana-visi-metaverse-di-kepala-banyak-futuris [Accessed 25 Jan. 2022].
[iii] Dirhanto, T, 2022. Menkominfo Sebut Indonesia Berpeluang Kembangkan Metaverse Dunia Karena Punya Kearifan Lokal. [online] KOMPAS.Tv. Available at: https://www.kompas.tv/article/251650/menkominfo-sebut-indonesia-berpeluang-kembangkan-metaverse-dunia-karena-punya-kearifan-lokal [Accessed 25 Jan. 2022].
[iv] Primadhyta, S, 2022. Bappenas Siapkan Metaverse Ibu Kota Baru. [online] CNN Indonesia. Available at: <https://www.cnnindonesia.com/ekonomi/20220113174646-532-746304/bappenas-siapkan-metaverse-ibu-kota-baru> [Accessed 25 January 2022].
[v] Indonesia, K.P.R., 2018. Making Indonesia 4.0: Strategi RI Masuki Revolusi Industri Ke-4. Kemenperin. Go. Id. kemenperin. go. id/artikel/18967/Making-Indonesia-4.0:-Strategi-RI-Masuki-Revolusi-Industri-Ke-4.
[vii] The Jakarta Post, 2020. 5G and the future of tech in Indonesia. [online] Available at: <https://www.thejakartapost.com/adv/2020/11/17/5g-and-the-future-of-tech-in-indonesia.html> [Accessed 28 January 2022].
[viii] Anestia, C., 2020. Literally, Indonesia Is Yet to Welcome the 5G Era. [online] Dailysocial.id. Available at: <https://dailysocial.id/post/literally-indonesia-is-yet-to-welcome-the-5g-era> [Accessed 29 January 2022].
[x] Indonesia, C., 2022. Pakar Sebut Butuh Tiga Tahun Hingga 5G Mulai Optimal di RI. [online] CNN Indonesia. Available at: <https://www.cnnindonesia.com/teknologi/20220106144850-213-743413/pakar-sebut-butuh-tiga-tahun-hingga-5g-mulai-optimal-di-ri> [Accessed 30 January 2022].
[xii] Afifa, L. (2022). Indonesia’s Law Fails Victims of Sexual Harassment in Workplace. [online] Tempo. Available at: <https://en.tempo.co/read/1160639/indonesias-law-fails-victims-of-sexual-harassment-in-workplace> [Accessed 30 January 2022].