In my last blog post, I ended the post with a snarky comment about how much we talk about defining ‘the metaverse’ instead of addressing the underlying problems. I’ve recently been exposed to a new-to-me idea that expands my understanding of how lexicon is important, because it can fundamentally change how it informs our work.

In the Mozilla Festival Plenary Session: metaverse or Metaverse(TM), the panelists discussed whether or not we want/need a “metaverse”, and what that means functionally in terms of product development. If you had asked me a week ago what my thoughts were on this, I would say that I was a proponent of “little-m” metaverse(s), but there are still a lot of characteristics that make up our shared concept of a metaverse that I am inclined to reject.

In the session, the conversation shifted from the concept of a “metaverse” to “pluriverse”.

The idea of a pluriverse is related to that “multiple metaverse” conversation, but contains important nuances in a shift of how we think about connected virtual worlds.

The etymology of pluriverse – with the prefix based in the root word “plural” – comes from the combined concepts of “abundance and multitude” – translated literally “to fill”. It is a word that implies action.

Meta, on the other hand, comes from concepts related to how (or when) something is done – “after”, “beside”, “with”, “among”. In modern English, “meta” is most often used to mean something that means “more comprehensive”.

Verse – stemming from the Latin word ‘vertere’ – means ‘to turn’.

If we think about these combinations of words, and what they imply, the idea of the metaverse can more directly be thought of as “the next step of the world we already have”. Pluriverse, on the other hand, could be more appropriately translated to something more akin to: “the turning towards a fuller, more abundant world comprised of many”.

It is not a question at all which of those is more appealing to me.

Watch the full MozFest panel and decide for yourself:

https://schedule.mozillafestival.org/session/GYUL9J-1

Welcome to the Pluriverse.