... reach for your metaphor and shoot.
A metaphor can be a mighty powerful thing. And since this may well be
the central theme of this whole column, I suppose that it's only fitting
that it gets linked somewhere (if only slightly) off the beaten track.
Robert Adrian in Infobahn
Blues (quite an old article by internet standards already, and though
to my mind it's a classic, on the internet nobody, until now at least,
has control over what's to become the canon) compares the metaphor of the
“information superhighway” (credited to U.S. Vice President Al Gore) with
that of “cyberspace”:
The Superhighway metaphor does not threaten the status
quo or challenge the prevailing ideologies as did "Cyberspace", that other,
earlier, name for the 'net coined by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling.
Cyberspace has no highways or interchanges or even directions, it is just
a vast universe of connections in a multi-dimensional data-field. You can
get lost in Cyberspace, it is dark and threatening and infested with spikey-haired
hackers with dirty fingernails and shabby hardware. Cyberspace is infinite,
chaotic and scary, while Mr. Gore's Superhighway is finite, linear and
very familiar - at least to suburban Americans, who are, after all, his
Jeremy Welsh, in On
and Off the Maps alludes to an article by David Weinberger – The
Ecstatic Document (hey, there I'm doing it) in which Weinberger describes
a good web document as:
ecstatic. You read it not so much for what it says but
for the links it shows you to other information.
To this Welsh adds:
The clear implication of this being that documents on
the world wide web have as their primary function the promotion of an endless
circulation in a looped space populated by detached signifiers. The hyperspace
of hypertext as an architecture of redundant information?
So although in the popular vernacular the metaphors of the "information
superhighway" and of "cyberspace" are pretty interchangeable, when it comes
to using the internet in education, they're rooted in very different premises,
and lead to just as different pedagogical methods.
Go to: The Unbearable Linearity of Learning