Thursday, June 24, 2004

Net Metaphors

Erika talks about metaphors for the internet notes the "exploration" theme in browser names like Inernet Explorer, Netscape Navigator and Safari, and then invents a new one:
We got to wondering about other potential metaphors could be used, and we realized, what with it being the web and all, that there was an unexploited weaving metaphor available. And just last night, the perfect name for a web browser popped into my head: Shuttle.

The shuttle, of course, is the thing that holds the weft as it is carried along, moving back and forth and under and over and all around the warp threads held by the loom.

To me, the web site creator might be a weaver, but the person who browses is more like the fly than the spider. What about other metaphors? The aimless, wandering nature of some web browsing might lend itself to a hobo metaphor, like NetVagrant or Internet Stumblebum. Searching through all the garbage on the web, hoping to find some cool free stuff to download could be called dumpster diving the net.

Almost anything would be an improvement on the popular surfing metaphor for browsing the web. Real surfing involves coordination, timing, balance, and athleticism, not to mention potential drowning and shark bites. Clicking on hyperlinks is nothing like surfing, and the wi-fi surfboard is even less useful than the Internet toilet roll browser and Net cutting board.

My favorite metaphor for web browsing is fishing. You're not sure what kind of information you will "catch", but it's a fun way to pass the time even if you don't catch anything good.

1 comment:

Peter said...

I've never surfed, but I've done some dumpster diving. What now serves as my daughter's chest of drawers is one of my more permanent finds. So I think I'd feel more at home with the new phrase. Besides, "surf the web" mixes metaphors, unless I can picture southern California flies.

"Shuttle" also keeps the exploration metaphor -- kind of marries the exploration and the spider web mataphors.