December 30, 2003

A Provocative Question [1:32 pm]

How well do metaphors help us understand the Internet? Gore, Gibson, and Goldsmith: The Evolution of Internet Metaphors in Law and Commentary [via Legal Theory Blog (note there's something wrong with his clock, or else he's crossed the International Date Line without telling us <G>]

This paper seeks to explore the evolution of metaphorical inferences as applied to the Internet within legal commentary and judicial opinion. Three metaphors in particular will be examined (though this is not an exhaustive analysis by any means): the information superhighway, cyberspace, and the Internet as "real" space. Given the Internet’s ongoing evolution as an unstable and ever-changing technology, courts and commentators have faced perpetual difficulty in mapping metaphors to it. Changing social constructions of the Internet as necessitated by its evolving underlying technological architecture have supported, or conversely eroded, a particular metaphor’s literal congruence with reality. The purpose of this paper is not to normatively assess what metaphor (if any) ought to be applied to the Internet in legal analysis, rather it is to make transparent the different conceptions of the Internet courts and commentators are sub silentio employing, and the various sociological, technological, and ideological conceptions of the world that support them.

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