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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.

“The Internet has disappeared. This exceptional book brings it back into focus—through richly illustrated histories, artworks, and reflections. It is both a historical document and an exploration of possible futures. On top of that, Annette and Katrin have given us a profoundly inspirational glimpse of what truly creative scholarship looks like.”—Mark Deuze, Professor of Journalism and Media Culture, University of Amsterdam, author of Media Life

Metaphors of the Internet is an extraordinary book, which zooms from the early days of cyberspace to the present moment to ask how we might conceptualise what the internet is, feels and means. Curated by the fabulous duo of Annette Markham and Katrin Tiidenberg this book presents a new vision and mode of encountering the internet in everyday lives and biographies. It presents an at once collective and carefully crafted, but also deeply personalised and reflexive, series of metaphors and stories through which the internet and life can be conceptualised as part of the same world. It invites us to acknowledge and contemplate anew how our own and others’ lives are entangled in the creativity and politics of everyday environments, that are never not digital. Metaphors of the Internet is essential, fascinating and accessible reading for anyone from any academic or practice-based discipline who is interested in understanding the internet.”—Sarah Pink, Professor of Design and Emerging Technologies, Monash University, author of Situating Everyday Life: Practices and Places and Doing Sensory Ethnography

“What language will internet research speak in the years to come? Read this innovative collection and find out what you will be thinking about, researching, and dreaming about, when you talk technology. A fun and forward thinking patchwork of ideas weaved together by scholars known for being ahead of their time.”—Zizi Papacharissi, Professor and Head of Communication, Professor of Political Science, University of Illinois at Chicago