As I continue to think about how heterotopia plays in the world of the internet: What is the internet? A series of metaphors? A vast and growing range of practices?
The internet has been conceived and perceived in many ways involving an array of overlapping metaphors. The internet is itself a metaphor, but we also have:
Platform, Tool, Container, Channel, Practice, Space, Place, Environment, World, Cloud, Web, System, Machine, Experience, Store, Process, Library, Network, Resource, Architecture, Community, Market, Prosthesis, Way of life or being……
(EG digital world, attention-based market, cyberspace, network of networks, global-community, propaganda machine, media delivery platform, virtual library and so on).
Metaphors are ‘fossils that indicate an archaic stratum of the trial of theoretical curiosity’ (Blumenberg, 1997: 820)
‘Metaphor is pervasive in everyday life, not just in language but in thought and action. Our ordinary conceptual system, in terms of which we both think and act, is fundamentally metaphorical in nature’ (Lakoff and Johnson 1980:3)
But what do we do with, through or on the internet when we metaphorically browse, surf, navigate, explore? What don’t we do? What do these metaphors allow, generate, encompass, block…? There are no strict borders between or beyond the following four practice-dimensions of the internet. Feel free to add/suggest more.
Some generic practices include:
Communicating, Uploading/downloading texts, images, sounds, Discovering, Investigating, Finding out, Questioning, Consulting, Commenting, Connecting, Interconnecting, Linking, Informing, Misinforming, Locating, Exchanging, Retrieving, Copying, Accumulating, Checking, Publicising, Buying/selling, Ordering/Booking/Reserving, Making appointment, Advising, Guiding, Supporting, Playing, Forming groups, Creating, Inventing, Exhibiting, Persuading, Engaging, Influencing, Motivating, Entertaining, Amusing, Distracting, Distancing, Immersing, Educating, Learning, Researching, Experimenting, Reflecting, Leading, Misleading, Steering, Coercing, Destroying, Distorting, Inspiring, Arousing, Provoking, Inciting, Manipulating, Exploiting, Helping, Sponsoring, Abusing, Targeting, Supporting, Empowering, Hacking, Forming habits, Forming addiction, Forming compulsion, Blocking, Faking, Falsifying……
Some practices developed/adapted from older media include:
Watching films, TV, video; Listening to music; Reading articles, extracts, stories, books; Receiving news; Making art, photography, music, video; Watching pornography; Gaming, Dating, Keeping diary, Blogging…….
With a more social context, practices include:
Chatting, Messaging (e.g. photos, videos, text), Posting (e.g. tweets, comments) , Sharing (e.g. photos, links), Socialising, Keeping in touch, Making friends, Escaping, Having fun, Sexting, Having sex, Masturbating, Flirting, Playing games, Role playing, Fantasising, Disclosing, Befriending, Bullying, Pretending, Seeking and providing company, attention, comfort, empathy, social affirmation ……
Some more specifically economic, socio-political and organisational practices include:
Enabling and/or utilising a range of the above and:
Marketing research, Data mining, Promoting, Advertising, Raising funds, Maximising profit, Monopolising, Monetising content, Lobbying, Intervening, Monitoring, Tracking, Trailing, Spying, Proselytising, Converting, Governing, Controlling, Censoring, Attacking, Waging war …..
Initial working definition: The internet is a series of relational practices that continuously absorb, mirror, enable, extend and reveal opportunities and dangers.
Some reading on metaphors:
Dodge, M. (2008) ‘Understanding Cyberspace Cartographies: A Critical Analysis of Internet Infrastructure Mapping’. University College London, PhD dissertation.Chapter Four Dodge pdf
Graham, M. (2013) ‘Geography/Internet: Ethereal Alternate Dimensions of Cyberspace or Grounded Augmented Realities?’ The Geographical Journal 179 (2) 177-182
Jamet, D. L. (2010) ‘What do Internet metaphors reveal about the perception of the Internet? metaphorik.de 18 jamet pdf
More general stuff on metaphors https://www.theverge.com/2014/8/20/6046003/a-history-of-metaphors-for-the-internet
First edition of Social Media on-line journal also recommended. http://journals.sagepub.com/toc/smsa/1/1
Lakoff, G. and Johnson, M. (1980). Metaphors we live by. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Blumenberg, H. (1997) ‘Prospect for a theory of nonconceptuality’ in Shipwreck with Spectator – Paradigm of a Metaphor of Existence, New York: MIT.
21 November 2107