Lenslist asked me, Denis Rossiev, Hali Hoyt and Ben Desai for our thoughts on the future of the Metaverse. I will publish my answer below, but follow this link to read all responses!
At first, people will imagine a metaverse as a place, and most of us will design it as if it was an extension of our own physical environment. It will have clothes, roads, flowers etc. This will make sense from a cultural point of view, as we like to create reality by duplicating what we now believe reality consists of. It also makes sense on a commercial level: what is sold in real life, may be sold through a metaverse. It may even become easier to sell it that way.
And that gives us a clue: a metaverse is not a place, it is a means of exchange: a means of communication. So while we think we are learning to build a metaverse by designing objects, as if it was an architectural quest, we are actually learning a new language. And this new language is not going to extend reality as we understand it, it is going to change it beyond the comprehension of our current view of reality. This language will then start to shape how things look, instead of the other way around. Digital clothes will not have the same meaning any longer, and nor will digital roads and flowers. But we are not there yet. Perhaps if we try to design as poetic and open as possible, and try to not fill too many new gaps with old solutions, we will start to get a feeling of this new reality.