chapter  2
Metaphor as Method: Conceptualizing the Internet through Spatial Metaphors
Pages 20

Common understanding of online space has transformed substantively since its inception, revealed, for instance, in the shift in terminology from ‘cyberspace’ to ‘Web 2.0.’ There is now an acknowledgment that virtual space is not a monolithic structure but a plurality of networks shaped by a range of stakeholders. Since the fi rst decade of euphoria about the internet, there has been a growing demand to anchor these spaces in real-world infrastructures rather than accept the initial interpretation of such spaces as revolutionary, unprecedented, and novel (Arora, 2012b; Baym, 2009). Metaphors have been faithfully employed in this pursuit, clarifying and making tangible the unknown through the known (Lopez, 2003). There is a clear mission to architect social media spaces through experienced and experiencing physical structures such as chatrooms, electronic frontiers, homepages, and information highways. Focusing on the spatial dimension emphasizes the importance of the underlying structure and its nature and design in shaping online social action. Thereby, spatial metaphors are particularly useful and powerful instruments to foster a deeper understanding of digital space.