Internet Dreams: Archetypes, Myths and Metaphors by Mark J. Stefik
The stakes are high - metaphors can have an impact on the legal and policy aspects of the future of the Internet as well as its technical design and economic structure. "Internet Dreams" illuminates not only how "the Net" is being created, but also stories about ourselves as our lives become electronically interconnected. Ancient myths meet modern networks. Carl Jung and others maintain that our dreams speak to us in terms of archetypes and symbols. These symbols are often universal. They reveal much about our common humanity and how we see ourselves. These symbols also appear in our patterns of speech, reflecting in our choice of metaphor how we shape our understanding of things. The Internet, the emerging embodiment of the modern information infrastructure, is now entering our social consciousness. So what metaphors do we use in talking about it and thinking about it? The "information superhighway" metaphor, for a while ubiquitous in the popular press, gives only a limited sense of what the Internet is and what it could be. Mark Stefik explores some of the most provocative writings about the Internet to tease out the deeper metaphors and myths. He finds four persistent metaphors - digital library, electronic mail, electronic marketplace and digital world. These metaphors are based on ancient myths and archetypes that have influenced human thinking for thousands of years: keeper of knowledge (the digital library), communicator (electronic mail), the trader (electronic marketplace), and the adventurer (digital world).