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Metaphors of Internet

Ways of Being in the Age of Ubiquity


Edited By Annette N. Markham and Katrin Tiidenberg

What happens when the internet is absorbed into everyday life? How do we make sense of something that is invisible but still so central? A group of digital culture experts address these questions in Metaphors of Internet: Ways of Being in the Age of Ubiquity.

Twenty years ago, the internet was imagined as standing apart from humans. Metaphorically it was a frontier to explore, a virtual world to experiment in, an ultra-high-speed information superhighway. Many popular metaphors have fallen out of use, while new ones arise all the time. Today we speak of data lakes, clouds and AI. The essays and artwork in this book evoke the mundane, the visceral, and the transformative potential of the internet by exploring the currently dominant metaphors. Together they tell a story of kaleidoscopic diversity of how we experience the internet, offering a richly textured glimpse of how the internet has both disappeared and at the same time, has fundamentally transformed everyday social customs, work, and life, death, politics, and embodiment.

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This book is a collaborative effort of all the contributors, who spent more than two years working together in Google docs to draft, critique, and revise their pieces. This is not an easy process and their persistence, patience, and willingness to be part of this experiment is remarkable. For this, we thank our fellow curators and co-authors: Andee Baker, Anette Grønning, Anna Shchetvina, Carmel L. Vaisman, Cathy Fowley, Craig Hamilton, Cristina Nuñez, Crystal Abidin, Daisy Pignetti, Jeff Thompson, Jessa Lingel, Katie Warfield, Kevin Driscoll, Maria Schreiber, Nadia Hakim-Fernández, Patricia Prieto-Blanco, Polina Kolozaridi, Priya C. Kumar, Ryan Milner, Sarah Raine, Sarah Schorr, Son Vivienne, Terri Senft, Tijana Hirsch, Tobias Raun, Whitney Phillips, xtine burrough, Winnie Soon.

Annette: Speaking from my own perspective on the project, I admit I enjoyed the creative process much more than the management required to bring this volume to fruition. I liked tinkering with the order of chapters, the titles of various sections, the wording of authors’ sentences. I cherished the gift of editing the other authors’ texts to build what we hope reads as a strong cohesion across the chapters. In this meandering and playful curating process, I cannot begin to express my deep appreciation for Katrin’s continuous work to keep the project moving toward completion. Without her alternately fierce and gentle pressure, I would still be tweaking and fussing with the details of each of the contribution. Katrin skillfully managed the personalities, the logistics, and me. She is...

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