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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 Twenty-Eight: Remixed into Existence: Life Online as The Internet Comes of Age (Ryan M. Milner)



Remixed into Existence: Life Online as the Internet Comes of Age

ryan m. milner

coming of age on the madcap mash up internet

I began my life online in the early aughts, at a time when the robust, playful, and personal dimensions of online interaction Annette Markham charted in 1998 were already growing more prevalent and prominent. More people, more platforms, and more modes of communication were corroborating Markham’s arguments about the social and cultural “themes of life in cyberspace.” Access was opening a little wider with increased broadband connection. “Web 2.0” interfaces allowed users to create, circulate, and transform content a little easier. Conversations became more multimodal; images, videos, and GIFs came to share prominence with the word play, ascii art, and emoticons long woven through chatrooms, MUDs, and forums. With new participants, new sites, and new tools came new ways of being stitched together by shared social practices.

For my part during this proliferation, I was one of the legion of pop-culture obsessed geeky gamer kids who set the barbed, absurdist, ironic tone on sites like Something Awful, 4chan, and eventually Reddit, a constellation of then backwaters that we, their inhabitants, reckoned an empire. Or at least that’s how I assumed we reckoned them, and at least that’s who I assumed we were. After all, I had no way of really knowing the identities and motivations of the people I was talking with. And yet, I...

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