Metaphors in critical Internet and digital media studies

Sally Wyatt*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Since its very early days, metaphors have been used by various powerful social actors to try to convey what the Internet is and what it could be used for, now and in the future. In this short essay, I make a plea for critical scholars of the Internet and digital media to be simultaneously careful and imaginative in their own choice of metaphorical language. I revisit some of the early and recurring metaphors, such as frontier, highway and library, to illustrate the evocative power of metaphor. I then examine the more recent metaphors of cloud computing and (big) data flow to justify why it remains important to focus on metaphors. Scholars in critical and digital media studies not only need to deconstruct the metaphors of the powerful but they also need to contribute new metaphors and new ways of describing and thinking about the future.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)406-416
Number of pages11
JournalNew Media & Society
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2021


  • Big data
  • cloud computing
  • digital media
  • future
  • Internet
  • metaphor
  • science and technology studies


Dive into the research topics of 'Metaphors in critical Internet and digital media studies'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this