The blog for internet scientists and digital mavericks

How metaphors shape the digital society

Cloud, Big Data, Piracy, Virus are common terms in the debates about digital technologies. At the same time they are methaphors that originate from other fields than technology. What normative or political baggage do they therefore carry? How does this vocabulary shape the emerging digital society? In the series of articles on the Politics of Metaphors different authors analyse the assumptions and meanings of metaphors in the digital era.

Articles in this Dossier

Anna Jobin

Organic search: How metaphors help cultivate the web

Tomatoes, apples and bread can be ‘organic.’ But search results? Anna Jobin and Malte Ziewitz wonder about…

Rikke Frank Jørgensen

The Privatised Public Sphere

The public sphere metaphor was always contested and this continues in the digital realm. While “old” debates…

Leontine Jenner

Backdoor: How a metaphor turns into a weapon

Governments want special access to encrypted data while IT specialists and privacy advocates oppose these demands. What…

Benedikt Fecher

Is Open Science a tautology?

In our blog series on metaphors of the digital society, we uncover the vocabularies that are thrown around…

José van Dijck

The platform as pizza: towards a taxonomy of platforms

The ‘platform’ metaphor is at once inevitable and misleading. What’s more, we no longer regard it a…

Tarleton Gillespie

The Platform Metaphor, Revisited

The most successful internet businesses are based on the idea of offering a platform. Author Tarleton Gillespie…

Nicholas John

Sharing – from ploughshares to file sharing and beyond

The metaphor of sharing is central to the workings of social media and indeed to computer-mediated communication…

Noam Tirosh

Who benefits from the so-called New Media Revolution?

The new media revolution is a common metaphor that is often used to describe the contemporary communications…

Artifical Intelligence Face Automation
Christian Djeffal

AI – A Metaphor or the seed of personality of machines in a digitised society?

Is artificial intelligence a metaphor, or can machines be intelligent in the same way human beings are?…

Christian Katzenbach

Imagining the Digital Society – Metaphors from the Past and Present

The current rapid social and technological change is giving rise to enormous uncertainties – and a great…