Week 1: January 22

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Week 2:  January 29th

     Figures: cyberspace, the cloud, bandwidth, surfing, the web


Week 3: February 5

Figures: chat room, message/bulletin board, forum, black box, internet

internet (noun):

  1. a computer network comprising or connecting a number of smaller networks, such as two or more local area networks connected by a shared communications protocol; an internetwork; spec. such a network (called ARPANET) operated by the United States Department of Defense. In later use (usually the Internet): the global network comprising a loose confederation of interconnected networks using standardized communication protocols, which facilitates various information and communication systems such as the World Wide Web and email. Also: the resources accessible via this global network, esp. the World Wide Web. (from OED)
  2. etymon: internetwork (n.)
  • an interconnecting network; (computing) a network composed of two or more interconnected networks
  • etymons: inter (prefix), network (n.) (originally after German Zwischennetz)
    • inter (prefix): between, among, amid, in between, in the midst; used in the Latin and derived from the French entre
    • network (n.):
      1. Work (esp. manufactured work) in which threads, wires, etc., are crossed or interlaced in the fashion of a net; frequently applied to light fabric made of threads intersecting in this way.
      2. A piece of work having the form or construction of a net; an arrangement or structure with intersecting lines and interstices resembling those of a net.

forum (noun):

  1. Roman Hist. The public place or market-place of a city. In ancient Rome the place of assembly for judicial and other public business.
  2. as the place of public discussion


The internet, as a digital space, has acted as a place for “shared communications” on a global scale. A place where thought, idea, and speech is shared in a public arena is something we have taken advantage of in the last decade. There was a moment that this means to share data with one another was not only difficult to conceptualize but otherwise impossible to execute. The internet has etymology with words like “inter,” meaing between or within things, and “net” or “network.” Maybe we can visualize a webbing of some sort. A web of things interwoven in its framework, all steeped in information from all corners of the world. “Internetwork” is described as having threads and wires crossed and interlaced with one another, both materiality and the intangible weaving with one another. Now, the word “forum,” rooted in Roman history as a public square where commerce and conversation occur, is also a place for “share communications.”  A forum is a “place for public discussion.” How, then, does the internet as we know it today become our modern day “forum?” We use the word loosely now, meaning often a place where people simply say their piece. However, how does the historical applications of “forum,” as in a public place where there is market, conversation, justice, and general assembly, become replicated in a place like the internet? Also, how does the “forum” become a place where the net, the web, is created in the most literal of senses? How does the forum become an archaic way of looking at the internet, creating a co-dependent relationship between the two terms?

– Irisdelia Garcia

The term “chat room” is defined as both an online messaging facility dedicated to real-time exchanges, usually on a particular topic, and a notional space occupied by two or more participants in an online chat service. Chat, a noun and verb, refers to talk that is described as familiar, frivolous, impertinent or informal, and is an abbreviation of chatter. Chatter was originally used in relation to the noises of animals, such as birds and apes, to mean rapid, short vocal sounds. This later became applicable to the human voice, as well as the vibrations of tools and machines. This combination of uses implies implies chat, and chat rooms, ar used for immaterial talks, because of the way chat is likened to animal noises and meaningless machine noise. The descriptors familiar, frivolous, impertinent, and informal, are appropriate for chat rooms in some senses and inappropriate in others. Chat rooms are a place for casual interactions–ones that are as short and simple as the participants want them to be, and the language is often of a casual type used among peers. They are normally used for discussions that are recreational or informational, but not for emergency situations. However, chat rooms are often associated with some degree of anonymity, which makes familiarity difficult in most cases. Additionally, while some chat rooms are frivolous, many are used for various kinds of advising and assistance that would not fit well with a definition that makes chat frivolous. An especially poignant example of this is the use of chat rooms for mental health crises, which have become more popular in recent years, and allow people to reach out for help from trained responders via chat rooms. This serious function of chat rooms implies that they have shifted to what they are now from an earlier state that was less practical and warranted an association with “frivolous” chat. On a note related to the roots of “chat room,”  chatter is also cited as the origin for the word twitter, which is used similarly to chatter in relation to birds, and also as the title for Twitter, the social media platform, which reframes Twitter as giant, public sort of chat room.

Internet: a computer network comprising or connecting a number of smaller networks, such as two or more local area networks connected by a shared communications protocol. Internet is derived from the word “internetwork,” which describes an interconnecting network. It may also be influenced by ARPANET, a network operated by the U.S. Department of Defense, which suggests a connection between the Internet and government regulation. The roots in “internetwork” suggest the internet exists as a figure between networks, which in this case are systems of interconnected computers. However, the term network can be used more broadly to describe any chain or system of interconnected immaterial things. This usage developed from the original meaning of network, which referred to an object constructed from a literal net–interlaced fabric or threads used for catching, covering, confining, protecting, and holding. These uses of nets relate to the way the web holds information in various nodes, and make an interconnected series of nets a reasonable description for the Internet, but nets don’t quite fit in the sense that the Internet can serve other purposes such as producing, destroying, and modifying information.

How do the roots of the terms “chat room” and “network” reveal/relate to the challenges of finding accurate metaphors for discussing technology?


Week 4: February 12

Figures: inbox/outbox, email, menu, webpage/website, information superhighway, archive

web page

a hypertext document accessible via the web, typically consisting of text, image files, and other content, as well as links to other web pages


A place in which public records or other important historical documents are kept

A historical record or document so preserved


The way we use the term ‘archive’ today reflects its historical relationship with the concept of stored information. There are the still-existing archives of physical records and documents, as well as the more recently created electronic archives for digital files. I was surprised to see that the OED did not have a definition of ‘archive’ that was digitally focused, because of how large of a role those archives have played in the world’s information storage, especially in the past several decades. One advantage having a more specifically digital definition would be to highlight the difference in content. These older definitions seem to designate that which is kept in an archive as important and of historical significance, which is not always true for electronic archives, which people often use to store trivial or personal information. The emphasis on place in the first ‘archive’ definition reminds me our our discussion of the cloud metaphor for storage, because of the fact that we are traditionally more comfortable with conceptualizing information storage spatially, it is understandable how we came to apply the same term to our digital information in order to make sense of it.

I see a similar connection in the use of the term ‘web page’, which is used like a metaphor likening one screen of a website to one page of a book. This again, makes sense as a tool for understanding a web site when first getting acclimated to a digital environment, but the metaphor of a ‘page’ does not describe what a web page truly is. ‘Page’ carries the entailments of something static and part of a linear sequence. This is problematic because of how important the ability to be moved and changed, and the networked structure of webpages are. By using the term web page, we are forced to reconsider a page as something that could function more like a node with potentially uncertain connections rather than a piece of a set sequence.  

How does the relationship between digital archives and web pages compare to the relationship between traditional archives and pages?


Week 5: February 19

Figures: portal, interface, shopping cart, database, firewall, ESC


  1.  A structured set of data held in computer storage and typically accessed or manipulated by means of specialized software

Combination of Data and Base


  • Data


      1. As a count noun: an item of information; a datum; a set of data.

      2. Computing. Quantities, characters, or symbols on which operations are performed by a computer, considered collectively. Also (in non-technical contexts): information in digital form


  • Base


    1. A lowest or supporting part.
    2. The bottom of any object when considered as its support or as the part on which the upper part stands or rests. Also: a surface on which a person or thing stands, grows, or moves.


The use of the word data in the word database seems to make the most sense since we associate the word with information. A database is where a set of information is stored. However, the word base seems less intuitive. I picked out two definitions of base, the most common being the lowest part of a structure and the other being a bottom support on which something else stands or rests. The definition that I didn’t include above, but thought a lot about was a fortification or military base. How does thinking about database with those 3 definitions of base in mind change the way you think about the word as a whole? Which is most appealing?


  1. A wall or partition designed to inhibit or prevent the spread of fire; spec. such a wall in a building, which extends to a certain height above the roof.

  2. Computing. A system, typically a piece of hardware or software, which provides protection against unauthorized access to or from a private network or computer system.

Combination of the words fire and wall


The use of the word firewall seems to be a very straightforward choice to describe this protective software. In the case of technology, the fire is just unauthorized access, something that is where it shouldn’t be (like fire in a building) that could potentially cause a lot of damage (just like an actual fire). While there is no physical wall, it is easy to imagine this technology as creating a wall in your computer to keep the harmful things out.


In a computational or digital arena, an interface is the mechanism made in order to allow for users to interact with the machine or software. This fits under the wider definition given for interface as both 1. A surface lying between two portions of matter or space, and forming their common boundary and 2. A means or place of interaction between two systems, organizations, etc. An interface in the computational/digital set does function as the surface level of the machine, and it is the place where the user and the machine meet, and enables such meetings. Because of this, it is clear how the term came to be applied in these ways. However, when the term itself is broken down into its parts–”inter” “face,” meaning “between faces”–there is intrigue surrounding the transition to the word’s current use in technology. In present day, online interactions and computer usage are often pitted against in-person communication (either as superior or inferior depending upon who you ask), so it is interesting that the word describing the tool that we use for the former, in its simplest form, describes the latter (face-to-face) meetings.

ESC refers to the function key labelled ‘Esc’ which is found at the upper left of IBM-style keyboards and which generates an escape character when pressed, frequently used to interrupt or cancel an operation. It is revealing to consider why “escape” (defined as The action of escaping, or the fact of having escaped, from custody, danger) is used in this context. This association of the ESC key with the act of leaving behind negativity and danger seems to indicate a fear-based need for the key. When personal computers were first popularized, and even now, the ways they are used are so varied and often new that it is understandable people had some uncertainty and discomfort in approaching them. So, the label “escape” makes sense as a remedy to the trouble that meets confused users, and allows them to return from a hectic place in their technology to a more central and familiar home base.  

How much does interacting with an “interface” differ from interacting “inter-face,” and what is the significance of these different signified meanings having similar signs?


Portal (noun):

  1. A door, gate, doorway, or gateway, of stately or elaborate construction; the entrance to a large or magnificent building, esp. when emphasized in architectural treatment; any door or gate (chiefly poet.).

2. Computing. Originally: a server or website that provides Internet access. Later also: a website or service that provides access to a number of sources of information and facilities, such as a directory of links to other websites, search engines, email, online shopping, etc. More fully portal site.

Firewall (noun):

1. An unbroken line of flames forming a barrier; a wall of fire. Somewhat rare.

2. A wall or partition designed to inhibit or prevent the spread of fire; spec. such a wall in a building, which extends to a certain height above the roof.

3. Something designed to protect the security or integrity of a system, process, or institution, esp. by acting as a barrier; a measure taken to prevent something undesirable occurring; a safeguard.

4. Computing. A system, typically a piece of hardware or software, which provides protection against unauthorized access to or from a private network or computer system.


·         fire (noun): The physical manifestation of combustion, characterized by flames and the production of (intense) heat, light, and (typically) smoke, and caused by the ignition and burning of flammable material in the presence of oxygen; the process of burning and its manifestation considered together.

·         wall (noun): A rampart of earth, stone, or other material constructed for defensive purposes; An embankment to hold back the water of a river or the sea; A defensive structure enclosing a city, castle, etc. Chiefly pl., fortifications


It’s interesting, in the breakdown of the word firewall, one definition of ‘wall’ is to hold back the water of a river or sea, so there’s a strange but layered way in which firewall, in spite of an opposing element in the term, is too holding back a river or sea of information that might as well drown you. In computing, firewall is described as a system, a software that acts as barrier for unauthorized access to your network or system. In its etymon ‘wall,’ it can be described as a digital defensive structure enclosing a city of information and, weirdly enough, protecting it from a river of information. The word portal, however, acts as a gate for information, an entrance that lets in date just by, sometimes, a click of a link. If we think of our computers or personal networks as cities of information that must be protected, with firewalls all around this fortification of data, where will your portals be? I paint portals as these guarded gates on these firewalls, wondering how and who we access in order to come through. How is the structural and computing definitions of ‘portal’ related to the way we think of firewalls in this age of technology? What do we choose to let into our fortifications, and what if, perhaps, we choose to let in information that firewalls deem dangerous but the portals deem okay? How is there, in a narrative sense, conflict there?


Week 6: February 26 (Progress Reports Due)

In Class:         Group Progress reports, presented to class


Week 7: March 5

In Class:         Figures: mining, linking, nodes, window, tabs, surfing


a.Computing; a rectangular, typically framed area of the display screen that  displays an image produced by a graphical user interface in order to display selected portion or view of information, an image, or an interface for an application

b. An opening in the wall or roof of a building, for admitting light or air and allowing people to see out; esp. such an opening fitted with a frame containing a pane or panes of glass (or a similar transparent substance);  fig. A gateway through which a particular state, condition, etc., can be entered, accessed, or understood; (also) a means of letting in knowledge or gaining insight

etymology: Icelandic vindauga vindr, meaning “wind,” and auga, meaning “eye.” Vindauga could be translated as “wind’s eye.”

surfing in surf (verb)

a.Computing; intr.:To move from site to site on the Internet, esp. to browse or skim through web pages. Also: to go to a particular website.  trans.:To visit successively (a series of Internet sites); to use (the Internet); to seek information about (a topic) on the Internet.

b. intr.:To ride or be carried on the crest of a breaking wave, esp. using a surfboard; trans.: to ride (a wave) in this way.


The way we use ‘window’ in the digital space reflects the historical meaning of window, in a way that, the window works as a gateway to connect or disconnect with one space/place to another. When you break down the word, window into ‘wind’ and ‘eye’ I feel that it was originally used in a relation to what you could ‘see’ through your eyes when you paid a close attention to the specific thing you want to see and you were able to make a choice of seeing/not seeing it. The word, ‘surfing’ on the internet, for example, internet-surfing is commonly used when we are just randomly browsing through various information without specific purposes. If we think of ‘window’ on the computer as a place to connect/disconnect from one thing to another, does it mean that the moment we close the window on the internet page, we are disconnecting ourselves from the information or the connection that existed through that window? For example, if you are writing an email, it does not mean that your relationship with that person you are writing to ends the moment you close the window. Then, how should we think the window on the internet as a gateway to connect/disconnect? And how much it is possible to really connect/disconnect through the window on the internet?

Hikari Yoshida

In the digital world, a tab is a marker at the top of a browser “used to select additional web pages that have been opened within the browser window.”  This pertains most closely to the definition of a tab as colloquial US term for “a table, [or] an account,” as in the phrase “to keep tabs on” something.  This connection seems pretty straightforward, as tabs in our browser allow us to keep track of pages we’ve already left open, while allowing us to still browse our current page.  Going back even further in the origination of the word, tab is actually rooted in the word “tablet,” which is defined as “a smooth stiff sheet for writing on.”  This language seems to play directly into the discussion of the digital medium as a hub for hosting information, as the power of web browser to display information and keep track of potentially limitless pages via tabs seems to be a natural outgrowth of the more primitive tablets used to preserve the writings of past civilizations.  In this sense, our array of tabs in the web browser are actually quite comparable to the way tablets would have been stacked and collected together in ancient libraries.

Links, in the internet world, are “a word or group of words that act as a way to cross reference to other documents or files on the computer.”  Hence, linking is the act of creating these connecting words, which can be used by users to access information easily across the web.  This digital definition is closely tied with the more general definition of link being “to couple or join with.”  This definition is further rooted in links as a “series of rings or loops which form a chain.”  When viewed in the context of the internet, this last definition seems like a logical connection, as links allow users to join multiple pages and documents together in a chain-like fashion.  Looking at the word’s etymology, a connection to the human body is revealed, with the term originating from the Old High German word gelenche which refers to flexible parts of the body.  This had me wondering about how links could be thought of in the context of the “body” of the internet, as they do appear to be this essential element that gives the internet its elastic character, allowing us to easily stretch to the most far reaching corners of the web with a simple click of our mouse.

When in the act of digitally linking, we’re said to be connecting two or more parts of the computer together.  But doesn’t this also apply to ourselves?  When using links, we’re not only transitioning between two connected bits of information, but also linking ourselves directly to new information.  In this sense, to what extent does linking act as a connection between computers and our own body, as a means of direct information access for our brain?  This could also apply to the discussion of tabs, which allows our brain to avoid having to remember how to find specific pages on the web as the browser keeps track of it for us.  To what extent are these digital features extensions of our own brain/body, or merely tools of the computers we use?  Is there a negative consequence of depending on features like tabs to alleviate work on our brain?

-Kevin Dooley



1. An opening in the wall or roof of a building, and related senses.

2. fig: A gateway through which a particular state, condition, etc., can be entered, accessed, or understood; (also) a means of letting in knowledge or gaining insight.

3. Computing: In computer graphics: (originally) the part of an image produced by a computer that is displayed on a monitor; (in later use) the area of an image that is displayed in a viewport (cf. sense 17b).

Etymology: Icelandic vindauga vindr, meaning “wind,” and auga, meaning “eye.” Vindauga can be translated as “wind’s eye”.


1. Of waves, the sea, etc.: to form or become surf. Rare.

2. To ride or be carried on the crest of a breaking wave, esp. using a surfboard; to surfboard. To ride (a wave) in this way. Also fig. and in figurative contexts.

3.. Computing: To visit successively (a series of Internet sites); to use the Internet; to seek information about a topic on the Internet.


The definition of the word “window” and its particular focus on opening and in turn sight-seeing (“a means of gaining insight”) produces strange implications of voyeurism when it comes to the Internet, ones which were not present to me prior to this project. Focusing on alternate definitions of the word and considering the “window” as such a common Internet metaphor, brings to question the Internet’s purpose as not only a database to acquire knowledge but one to perhaps view things which should not necessarily be entered into. The use of the word “gateway” in the second definition is reminiscent of the window as the means of entering a second world. The larger question this discussion has been brought to: How much do the metaphors of the Internet attempt to emphasize its place as alternate to reality?

Surfing can be applied in a similar fashion. Surfing as sport is particularly interesting in connection with computing, for it implies a joyfulness and sense of pleasure that one would associate with such an activity as normal wave surfing. Furthermore, the parallels between the ocean and the Internet can be traced to not only its incredible vastness but in many ways its inability to break through deeper: surfing is only skimming the surface of what is below. How much information can we truly access through surfing, and what terms or metaphors can we use to imply more extensive Internet interaction?

-Kelly Karczewski

Week 8: Spring break, March 10-18


Week 9: March 19

Figures: trolls/trolling, desktop, mouse, dashboard

A. The top or working surface of a desk.
B. Computing. The working area of a computer screen regarded as a representation of a notional desktop and containing icons representing items such as files and a waste bin, used analogously to the items they symbolize.
A. An article of furniture for a library, study, church, school, or office, the essential feature of which is a table, board, or the like, intended to serve as a rest for a book, manuscript, writing-paper, etc., while reading or writing, for which purpose the surface usually presents a suitable slope.
B. In early use, applied also to a shelf, case, or press, on or in which books stand in a library or study. Obs.
A. A tuft, crest, or bush of hair, etc
B. The highest or uppermost part.

A. Naut. (a) A small collar, usually of spun yarn, round a rope or wire, esp. for holding an eye, etc., in place. (b) A mark fixed on a rope to indicate when it has reached a required position. (c) A mousing of spun yarn, etc., for a hook
A small weight attached to a cord or wire (occasionally the wire itself) used in various applications.
B. Computing. A small hand-held device which is moved over a flat surface to produce a corresponding movement of a pointer on a monitor screen or to delimit an area of the screen, and which usually has fingertip controls to select or initiate a computer function, or to place a cursor at the pointer’s position.


There are mainly three ways we use the word ‘desktop’. The first indicates the top of your desk that your computer sits on, and the second is a desktop computer meaning one that sits at your desk, as opposed to a laptop computer. Thirdly, the most commonly used is desktop as a computer desktop, which is part of your computer’s software. It’s interesting because when you start the computer, the first thing you see is the desktop image (the top), however, that image is also a background image, where you can access to different files and websites (that you frequently use). This is similar to the way we think desktop as the ‘top’ of the desk because you put the things (books, textbooks, and computers) on top of your desk, but the desk itself is just a surface that you work on. Also, when you are working on your desk, you just put the things that you need at that moment, just as you will clean up the computer desktop page by sorting out the old files that are no longer necessary. So my question is, what are the differences and the similarities when we are working on the documents saved on the desktop (computer desktop) between the works you do on the top of your desk?

Hikari Yoshida




  1. In Scandinavian mythology, One of a race of supernatural beings formerly conceived as giants, now, in Denmark and Sweden, as dwarfs or imps, supposed to inhabit caves or subterranean dwellings

  2. To move or walk about or to and fro; to ramble, saunter, stroll, ‘roll’

  3. To roll; also, to turn round and round; to spin, whirl.

  4. a person who sows discord on the Internet by starting quarrels or upsetting people, by posting inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community (wikipedia)




  1. A board or leathern apron in the front of a vehicle, to prevent mud from being splashed by the heels of the horses upon the interior of the vehicle. Also, movable sides to a cart for the same purpose (Halliwell).
  2. In motor vehicles, the panel beneath the windscreen on which electrical instruments and controls are mounted. Also in aircraft.
  3. A screen giving a graphical summary of various types of information, typically used to give an overview of (part of) a business or organization.



  1. To strike with violence so as to break into fragments; to break in pieces by a violent stroke or collision; to smash.




  1. A tablet or extended surface of wood, whether formed of a single wide board, or of several united at the edges.

Discussion Question

It seems to me that most people think of the definition of a tricky creature living under a bridge and causing trouble when they think of internet troll. However, I think the definition “to turn round and round” may also be applicable. How can we reconcile the vastly different definitions that the word troll carries and apply them to internet troll? Is one definition more prevalent over the rest or does the word carry all of those definitions at once, even when used in a specific, internet related context.


Week 10: March 26: Group Progress Reports

Figures: archive, pocket, network, phishing, texting


a. Any netlike or complex system or collection of interrelated things, as topographical features, lines of transportation, or telecommunications routes (esp. telephone lines).

b. Computing. A system of interconnected computers. Frequently attrib.


a. A piece of openwork fabric made of twine, synthetic fibres, strong cord, etc., forming meshes of a suitable size, used for catching fish, birds, or other living things.

b. fig. A means of catching or securing a person or thing; esp. a moral or mental snare, trap, or entanglement.

work (noun):

a. Action, labour, activity; an instance of this.

b. An act, deed, or proceeding; something that is in the process of being, or has been, done or performed.

archive (verb):

To place or store in an archive; in Computing, to transfer to a store containing infrequently used files, or to a lower level in the hierarchy of memories, esp. from disc to tape.

archive (noun):

A place in which public records or other important historic documents are kept.


It is interesting to think about how these two words; network and archive, are more commonly used as a verb rather than as a noun. In the digital/internet space, we often use these two terms as a verb. For example, (social) networking through SNS and archiving your messages on your Gmail account and etc. I think that this transition from a noun to a verb indicates how we separate the digital/internet space from the real physical world. Also, I think it makes more sense to use these words as a verb because we cannot actually “see” what we are archiving or networking on the internet, unlike the real physical world. However, at the same time, it is yourself in the physical space that who is conducting that action on the internet. So my question is, how much is our physical space and the internet space disconnected/connected? Does it make more sense to think the internet/digital space as some different world(space) from the physical world that we exist in?
Also, if there are more things that could be done through the internet rather than in the real world, would the “internet words” dominate the words in the real world? And how might that influence our languages in general?

Hikari Yoshida

Phishing (noun)

  1. Fraud perpetrated on the Internet; the impersonation of reputable companies in order to induce individuals to reveal personal information, such as passwords and credit card numbers, online.

Fishing (noun)

  1. The action, art, or practice of catching fish

Phreak (verb)

  1. To use fraudulently an electronic device to obtain a telephone call or connection without paying for it at a cheap rate

Text (verb)

  1. To inscribe, write, or print in a text-hand or in capital or large letters
  2. To cite texts
  3. To send (a text message) to a person, mobile phone, etc.


Phishing appears to be a combination of “Fishing” and “Phreak,” in which the act of electronic fraud in Phreak is combined with the act of hooking a fish, just as one would with an internet victim through Phishing.  I find this combination interesting, because the use of the word “fishing” to describe the act of ensnaring a victim seems to imply an element of skill or finesse such that is seen in an activity like fishing.  It’s interesting to see a word like fishing, which normally has an innocent connotation, get mixed in with a fraudulent and criminal meaning.  Then again, there is an inherent deception needed to successfully fish, where a fisherman will use bait and lures to attract its unwitting aquatic victims, and this deception certainly correlates with the impersonation needed to successfully pull off a phishing scheme on the internet.  This leaves me wondering, has the anonymity of the internet left us too vulnerable to attacks from malicious individuals?  When our possible perpetrators can hide behind the mask of the computer screen and an appealing and confusing web design, it’s more difficult than ever to tell what is and isn’t a threat to our own security and well being.  To what extent does the internet enable malevolence and criminality in ways that would not otherwise be possible, and does this opportunity for criminality outweigh or negate the benefits that we enjoy from the internet’s services?

Text has a straightforward connection between its modern digital and older meanings, where both describe the act of writing, one in the context of mobile phones and the other in printing.  I do find it interesting that the print meaning involves the use of “capital or large letters,” which perhaps correlates to how mobile text messages are more direct and to the point with their shorter lengths.  Given that we so often use mobile texting as a preferred mode of communication between ourselves now, has this affected how we process and relay information?  Since text messages are meant to be shorter and are exchanged more frequently than the more traditional print letter (which would take days, weeks, or even months to reach their intended party), does this format diminish our ability to write in longer, more deliberate formats?  Do we lose anything by shrinking and condensing information into short, direct messages?

-Kevin Dooley



1. To perpetrate a fraud on the Internet in order to glean personal information from individuals, esp. by impersonating a reputable company; to engage in online fraud by deceptively ‘angling’ for personal information.

To trick (a person) into revealing personal information on the Internet; to perpetrate online fraud by impersonating (a company). Also: to obtain (information) though online fraud.

Phishing (N)

Computing: Fraud perpetrated on the Internet; spec. the impersonation of reputable companies in order to induce individuals to reveal personal information, such as passwords and credit card numbers, online. (Phishing attacks)

Etymons: Fish (V)
the action of fish. The action, art, or practice of catching fish.
to fish in troubled waters: fig. to take advantage of disturbance or trouble to gain one’s end.

Phreak (V)
To use fraudulently an electronic device to obtain a telephone call or connection without paying for it or at a cheap rate. Also trans.: to obtain (a call or connection) in this way.


Text (N)
1. The wording of anything written or printed; the structure formed by the words in their order; the very words, phrases, and sentences as written.
A short passage from the Scriptures, esp. one quoted as authoritative, or illustrative of a point of belief or doctrine, as a motto, to point a moral, or esp. as the subject of an exposition or sermon.

Texting (V)

The action or practice of sending text messages from one mobile phone to another. Cf. text messaging n.

I chose both words phishing and texting for the reasons that they both hold very specific definitions in our world today in relation to technology and computer usage. Particularly with phishing, the combination of “fishing” and “phreak” ingrains internet babble with more extended implications that are more recognizable among users. Kevin’s point on the anonymity of the internet and its connection with the act of fishing (while we see it oftentimes as a patient art there is a disregard for the life of fish as unsuspecting and unimportant targets) I found to be very astute. I’d also like to point out the number of cliches associated with fish and fishing (fish out of water, there are other fish in the sea, and etc.)—all which imply fish to be a generic, anonymous breed. In connection with the attack of phishing, it identifies the perpetrator while confining the rest of the unwilling people of the Internet as a pool of unsuspecting, random victims. How does this glorify the perpetrator? How much power does the person who is able to control the Internet have? And how does that wield over society and the rest of the Internet’s (basic) users.

Texting, coming from “Text”, has older connotations—in reference to pieces of literature or scripture we commonly identify it as “text” rather than simply words on the page. So it being tied to cell phone text is somewhat ironic as these means of communication are some of the least coherent and important ways of writing something down. Particularly when you think about all the ways we’ve found to shorten words and phrases (lol, ik, cya, and on). What does this internet metaphor say about the intentions of technology and texting? Is it meant to replace the old definition? And how does the word texting being tied to scripture and important documents symbolize how important cell phone texting is to us in our world today?

Week 11: April 2

Figures: domain, recycle bin, hotspot, hit



A range of frequencies or wave-lengths that falls between two given limits; = waveband n. at wave n. Compounds 2. Also in Comb., as   band-pass filter n. an electrical filter with a very low attenuation for currents within given limits of frequency.  band width n. (also bandwidth) the interval separating the limits of a band.

Computing: The amount of information something, like a connection to the internet, can handle at any given time.




A strip of any material flat and thin, used to bind together, clasp, or gird.


A space between any two elevated lines or ribs on the fruit of umbelliferous plants



The linear extent of something as measured across or from side to side; breadth. Also occasionally: the extent to which something opens, or of the distance apart between two things.



A system for sending textual messages (with or without attached files) to one or more recipients via a computer network (esp. the Internet); a message or messages sent using this system. Also: an email address.

Short for electronic mail


The sending of image information by electronic means; spec. the facsimile transmission of documents as a public service.





Out of all of the explorations I’ve looked at, bandwidth seems to be the hardest metaphor to make sense of. As I was reading the definitions, I found it difficult to come up with why the words band and width could be combined to mean the amount of information something can withstand at any given time. It seems to me that there are definitions of bandwidth as a whole that contribute to our meaning of the word in an internet sense. Is there any ideas for how we can also bring the definitions of band and width into the mix.



Week 12: April 16

In Class:         Synthesis of DH approaches to literary texts

Recycle Bin:

recycle bin  n.  (a) a bin used exclusively to hold material (esp. household waste) intended for recycling;  (b) Computing (esp. in Windows systems) a folder used for the temporary storage of deleted files or folders before they are permanently erased; also fig.

recycle, v.

  1. To reuse (material) in an industrial process; to return (material) to a previous stage of a cyclic process.
  2. Electronics. intr. Of a counter or other device: to return to an initial state; to pass repeatedly through the same succession of states.

cycle, n.

A recurrent round or course (of successive events, phenomena, etc.); a regular order or succession in which things recur; a round or series which returns upon itself.

bin, n.

  1. gen. A receptacle (orig. of wicker- or basket-work): still used dialectally and technically in the most diverse senses
  2. binbag n. (Brit.) a large, strong (usually plastic) bag designed to be used as a container for esp. household rubbish.

Menu, n.

  1. A list of the dishes to be served at a meal, or which are available in a restaurant, etc.; a card on which such a list is written or printed, a bill of fare. Also: the food available or to be served at a meal or in a restaurant.
  2. Computing. A list of available commands or facilities, esp.one displayed on screen.

I’ve always found the use of the word recycle bin as a metaphor for deleting files on our computer interesting, if not somewhat puzzling, given that a real life recycle bin’s job is “to hold material intended for recycling,” implying the material will be put back into environment or society in some way.  When deleting files from the computer’s recycling bin however, these files are deleted permanently, which reminds me more of mindlessly throwing away junk into a trash can than a bin for recycling.  Then again, since a deleted computer file is brought back into electronic nothingness, returning to its original state, while a piece of trash is brought into a landfill, maybe the metaphor of recycling is more effective as a way to describe how computer files are deleted.  In terms of its etymology on OED, recycle’s history as a word goes back fairly recently to the year 1925.  However, “cycle” goes much further back to the days of ancient Greece where κύκλος meant circle.  If we think of disposing of web files as part of an ancient cyclical process, then this “death” of a computer file implies the “birth” of something as well.  Would this “birth” be the creation of new files on the computer?  And does this cycle of information on computers apply to more ancient forms of storing information as well?

When considering the food-centric menu’s relation to a computer menu, their connection makes sense given that both are lists meant to navigate an environment (as food menus aid in choosing orders from a restaurant and computer menus are used to gain access to different parts of the computer).  What I found most interesting about menu was that its original meaning had nothing to do with a list of food, but rather as an adjective for “unimportant” and “small” in Old French in 1050, and 1100, respectively.  It wasn’t until 1718 that menu first started to be referred in a list format, as a list for French food items, which most directly correlates to the current computer meaning as a list of available commands.  Learning of menu’s earlier etymological roots, as a term for small, made me really appreciate the function that a menu has, in any modern context, as something that takes a large set of options and puts them into a digestible format for a subject to use.  In the digital age, specifically, having a menu on our computers allows us to take the seemingly limitless expanse of knowledge available on the internet and navigate to it easily and effectively.  This had me wondering, what makes a computer or internet menu effective?  Is it ease of use?  Or does it perhaps rest on its ability to give a meaningful set of options to navigate through?  Does it revolve around how to best make “small” whatever is being navigated?

-Kevin Dooley


Hit (n)

A blow given to something aimed at; a stroke (at cricket, billiards, etc.); the collision or impact of one body with another.

A dose of a narcotic drug; the action of obtaining or administering such a dose. Also attrib., as hit-mark n. the scar from an injection of a drug. slang (orig. U.S.).

e. Computing. the percentage of records in a file which are accessed in the course of a processing task; also used analogously in other computing contexts (esp. memory caching), and transf.

The violent implications of the word “hit” struck me especially in doing this research, especially in connections with its ties to hard drug use and the visible marks it leaves on the skin. It is far more permanent, and emotional, than the “hit” you associate with the internet. There are thousands, millions!, of “hits” a day on the Internet, so much so that each one seems insignificant, even useless. But perhaps, knowing the origins of the word, there are more serious implications behind an Internet hit. How is it in many ways the currency of the Internet? How do hits make their mark upon the developments of the Internet?

Pocket. (n).

A sack or bag, sometimes used as a measure of quantity. Now chiefly in specialist agricultural contexts.

Such a receptacle viewed as the repository of a person’s money; (hence) a person’s stock of cash; financial resources.

Pocket was interesting for me to do research on, mainly because I wasn’t completely sure of pocket’s use as an internet metaphor. The literal and symbolic meanings of the word “pocket” in its relation to money and currency blend nicely with that of hits, and makes me think that perhaps a pocket is a place of the internet with either lots of hits, or is some sort of dark hole that is either unreadable or so without hits that it is lost. Regardless of its more specific definition in relation to computing, our association of “pocket” with clothing, a place in which we carry our essentials (phone, wallet, credit cards, gum), also makes me think a pocket is important in understanding where we put our information on the Internet. It also brings up ideas of having personal pockets on the Internet rather than having general, communal ones. This begs the question: where is information stashed? And how does it accumulate over time (pockets have hidden things, more than lint, things you forget about over time)?

Week 13: April 23

In Class:         Final Project Presentations


Week 14: Final Projects DUE