Electronic technology and the metaphor of the city

Why Telepolis? Why should the metaphor of the city be appropriate to describe interactive electronic technology? Consider how the metaphor resonates with certain key features of postmodern culture. As a social construction of electronic technology, Telepolis best captures the postmodern moment.

The metaphor of the city suggests to us that the cyberspace should be thought of as:



spatially organized,

and visually realized.


A contemporary city is an enterprise, whose inhabitants lead a curious double life. Each inhabitant is pursuing his or her own agenda, and yet the activities of all combine to give direction and life for the whole city. Cyberspace, or at least the Collective action The Internet has this quality, and perhaps no available metaphor other than the city captures the tension by which individual action leads to collective sense of coherence. Could we imagine electronic technology compared to a farm, a house, a forest, or a mountain? None of these seems appropriate. The Global village metaphor is a special case.) Nor in fact is the Infobahn.html particularly appropriate, although this is perhaps the dominant metaphor in the United States. Above all, the metaphor of the city privileges the social over the individual.

Twenty or thirty years ago, the dominant comparison was between the (standalone) computer and the inidividual human mind or brain. Postmodern culture has little interest in pursuing this analogy, because it has so thoroughly deconstructed the Cartesian subject.