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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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Chapter Sixteen: Co-becoming Hybrid Entities through Collaboration (Maria Schreiber and Patricia Prieto-Blanco)



Co-becoming Hybrid Entities through Collaboration

maria schreiber and patricia prieto-blanco

When we first met at the “Visual Cultures, Visual Methods” summer school in Aarhus in September 2012, we immediately felt a sense of connection: two female PhD students, each around 30 years-old, both struggling to get by financially, with similar research topics. We were also both influenced by our German academic experiences—highly specific ways of working, very thought-accurate and nitpicky. And as academic nomads we were each used to being on the move and mobile, skilled in managing to maintain digitally mediated relationships since the beginnings of the Internet. We initially kept in touch through Facebook, but as we bumped into each other at various conferences over the following couple of years, we finally started to intentionally collaborate on work in 2014. Through shared conference travels, AirBnB stays and glasses of beer, an academic collaboration and a friendship began to develop, both online and offline.

In this contribution we reflect on our collaborative practices through the framework of the internet as a “Tool, Place, and Way of Being” (Markham, 2003). We address what Markham calls the “interweaving of technology and human in context, both acting as agents within social structures” (ibid., p. 10) in our own practices, teasing out how “the construction of identity, place, boundary, and meaning is thoroughly negotiable and ad hoc” (ibid.). Similarly to the dramaturgy of Life Online, we start each stage/phase/dimension/layer/aspect with a brief...

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