chapter  11
22 Pages

The Power of Metaphor for Understanding and Experiencing Broadband: An Investigation of Policy Planner Discussions of the Alberta SuperNet


While the need to offer access to information to citizens has preoccupied federal governments since the 1990s with “information highway” rhetoric and “digital divide” concerns (Menzies, 1997), more recent discussion on this topic often includes the possibility of creating “next generation networks” (European Commission, 2010). In these instances, “information highway”, “digital divide”, and “next generation” are presented as a much-needed way to describe, appreciate and conceptualize what nations are funding in relation to new technology. This chapter is motivated by a desire to explore the relevance and power of these sorts of labels as metaphors. The prevalence of metaphors in the context of broadband policy initiatives raises questions such as which metaphors are deployed by policymakers; what these devices accomplish; and whether these tropes can be studied systematically to learn about a specifi c project and make recommendations. To answer these queries about metaphor, this chapter explores the use of these devices in a realworld case study of broadband construction: that of the Alberta SuperNet.