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Metaphors of the Web 2.0

With Special Emphasis on Social Networks and Folksonomies


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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Part 2 Social networks 27


27 PART 2 SOCIAL NETWORKS 28 3. Registration The focus of this chapter will be on the registration metaphor which has been well-known since the early years of the Internet. (That is, already in the 1990s Web users were required to register for a number of services including Web- based e-mail, Web forums, IRC, etc.) At the level of framesi.e., conceptual structures describing “a particular type of situation, object, or event and the participants and props involved in it” (Ruppenhofer et al. 2006: online)the concept of registration seems to be inte- grated into the frame of BECOMING A MEMBER OF A GROUP. That is, whenever we register for something both in real-life and on the Internet, we always be- come members of the group of people who register(ed) for the same thing as us. For example, when we register at a conference, we become members of the group of conference participants. When we check in at a hotel (which is a form of registration), we become members of the group of hotel guests. When we sign up for an SNS like MySpace and Facebook, we become members of the group of users of these services; etc. As described by FrameNet, the BECOMING A MEMBER frame consists of two core elements (i.e., elements instantiating “conceptually necessary component[s] of a frame” and thereby “making the frame unique and different from other frames,” Ruppenhofer et al. ibid.): (1) Group, i.e., a socially-constructed entity composed of members; and (2) New...

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