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Metaphors of the Web 2.0

With Special Emphasis on Social Networks and Folksonomies

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Alexander Tokar

This study is an attempt to semantically decompose the most popular metaphorical expressions associated with two particular Web 2.0 practices: social networks and folksonomies. What is a friend on a social networking Web site like MySpace and StudiVZ? Is it polite to poke strangers on Facebook and give them fives on hi5? How can we subscribe to RSS feeds, if we don’t pay subscription fees? Do we really broadcast ourselves on our YouTube channels? These and other similar questions are dealt with from the perspective of the referential and the conceptual approaches to meaning, i.e., what these words stand for (referential/extensional approach) and which concepts they signify (conceptual/intensional approach). Thus, from the referential point of view, a friend on MySpace is only a hyperlink directing to a profile page of another MySpace user. But from the intensional point of view, a friend is a subscriber to the content generated by the profile owner.

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X Screenshots Screenshot 1. Fake profiles on Facebook 31 Screenshot 2. NYT profile of Hillary Clinton 35 Screenshot 3. Blackcat’s profile on ICQ (www.icq.com) 35-36 Screenshot 4. Hillary Clinton’s description on her MySpace profile 42 Screenshot 5. Friends on hi5.com 42 Screenshot 6. “Friend Subscriptions” section on MySpace 63 Screenshot 7. “Friend Updates” section on hi5 63 Screenshot 8. Fives on hi5 69 Screenshot 9. The “Stats” section on a hi5 profile 70 Screenshot 10. SuperFives on hi5 73 Screenshot 11. A smile on Friendster 77 Screenshot 12. SuperPokes on Facebook 81 Screenshot 13. Tag cloud on Flickr 86 Screenshot 14. Site Map of www.whitehouse.gov 87 Screenshot 15. A photo of a KLM airplane on Flickr 90 Screenshot 16. Education-feed on www.washingtonpost.com 96 Screenshot 17. Feeds on Internet Explorer 97 Screenshot 18. Feed options on Internet Explorer 97 Screenshot 19. “Bookmarks” on Mozilla Firefox 106 Screenshot 20. YouTube symbol 112 Screenshot 21. Broadcast options on YouTube 113 Screenshot 22. Gaijin Navi videos 118 Screenshot 23. “Subscribers” section on a YouTube channel 125 Screenshot 24. Subscribing to Britney Spears’ YouTube channel 126

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