The avatar versus the journalist: Making meaning, finding truth

The evolution of the Internet as collective, public dream via electronic interfaces, and the evolution of human beings into civilizations, has many striking parallels. The earliest networks were often protected by their owners, and communities were relatively secretive or ?cave-dwelling.? The wiki, on the other hand, is out in the open field, where its vulnerability is on display and under attack. The process of its growth resembles agriculture and farming more than anything else.

In a certain sense then, the hyperlink is an extension of the wheel, allowing the traveler to go from one location to another, while the search engine is an explorer ship with its set of built-in navigational instruments. One could say that the word-of-mouth phenomenon is recreated by blogs, and farming on virtual terrain is akin to wikis — or fertile land. —Rohit GuptaThe avatar versus the journalist: Making meaning, finding truth (Online Journalism Review)

Okay, analogies are useful. This isn’t bad, though I’m not sure that “navigation” is the best overall metaphor for working through information. Maybe the first time you find it, but I’m often not so interested in finding something for the first time than I am in finding it again months or years after I came across it for the first time. That’s when information-gathering skills really come in handy. So, to me, map-making is a more resonant meatspace term for what helps me use cyberspace effectively. Your mileage may vary.

Oh, and since I’m on a caving kick, there are a few more references to caving in this story.