Geography/Internet: Ethereal Alternate Dimensions of Cyberspace or Grounded Augmented Realities?
Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford
October 25, 2012
The Geographical Journal (2013) (Forthcoming)
The internet has fundamentally transformed everyday life for over two billion people around the world. Geographers have had much to say about these changes, and there have been many productive debates about the relationships between geography and the internet. However, it remains that geographers have had relatively little influence on broader debates about the internet in academia, government, and the private sector.
In this commentary, I argue that many of the ways in which we discuss, imagine, and envision the internet rely on inaccurate and unhelpful spatial metaphors. In particular, the paper focuses on the usage of the ‘cyberspace’ metaphor and outlines why the reliance by contemporary policy makers on this inherently geographic metaphor matters. The metaphor constrains, enables, and structures very distinct ways of imagining the interactions between people, information, code, and machines through digital networks. These distinct imaginations, in turn, have real effects on how we enact politics and bring places into being.
The commentary traces the history of ‘cyberspace,’ explores the scope of its current usage, and highlights the discursive power of its distinct way of shaping our spatial imagination of the internet. It then concludes by arguing that Geographers should take the lead in employing alternate, nuanced, and spatially grounded ways of envisioning the myriad ways in which the internet mediates social, economic and political experiences.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 14
Keywords: internet, cyberspace, geography, augmented reality, code/spaceAccepted Paper Series
Date posted: October 26, 2012
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