These are extremely helpful sources. The Humanist thread reminds me, Francois, that much of this spatial thinking about what exists “inside” the networks begins (of course) with Gibson’s Neuromancer, which highlights an important aspect of what I imagine the new project being up to: exploring the narratives (in the literary sense, but also in a larger sense that would include futurology and technocriticism) that shape our understanding of the world we live in now and its relationship to computer technologies. Neuromancer literalizes that “shaping” effect, less in that Gibson predicted the future than in that technologists who built and described the networks we now use had Gibson’s images as a sort of unconscious substrate. But even in Gibson we see that one of the results of understanding the world of the virtual as a “space” equivalent, if not superior, to the physical is a disdain for “meatspace” and the claims it makes on human lives.

I’m not sure I’ve got any good answers for thinking about alternate metaphoric structures, though; I like the notion of the “rhizome,” Chuck, as it does convey connectivity, but I’m not sure how flexible it is as a framework. The pervasiveness of the spatial metaphor comes in part from that flexibility, I think, in explaining our net-work as both located (at “sites”) and mobile (“sites” that one “goes to”). The rhizome might give us a good sense of the net, but I’m not sure it helps us understand our work therein.