Request for nature metaphors in cyberspace

I’m collecting examples of nature metaphors used to describe
cyberspace and the internet and it’s turning out to be a giant task so I would really appreciate some help.

To give you an idea of the kind of material I’m collecting, here are some watery metaphors dating back to Al Gore’s
remarks to the National Press Club, Dec 21st 1993, when he famously
introduced the concept of an ‘information superhighway’. Read the whole
and you’ll see that there are quite a few watery images in there
too. He said ‘It’s a "phase change" — like moving from ice to water;
Ice is simple and water is simple, but in the middle of the change it’s
mush — part monopoly, part franchise, part open competition. We want
to manage that transition.'[1] And we’re still using that same metaphor
today:  ‘Think of the web, of the Internet itself, as water.
Proprietary platforms based on the web are ice cubes. They can, for a
time, suspend themselves above the web at large. But over time, they
only ever melt into the water. And maybe they make it better when they
do.’ [2] 

Tim O’Reilly uses quite a few nature metaphors in his
writing, including watery ones like : ‘The "blogosphere" can be thought
of as a new, peer-to-peer equivalent to Usenet and bulletin-boards, the
conversational watering holes of the early internet.’ [3] and of late,
many people have been swimming in the Twitter stream so I tweeted the
question ‘If Twitter were a landscape, what kind of landscape would it
be?’ J.P. Rangaswami replied:  ‘a collection of zillions of tiny rivers
connected yet apart’ [4] and David Terrar imagined a: ‘twisty canyon
with a fast flowing river ‘ [5] Those are just a few examples from a
large number of images used to conceptualise the cyberspace experience
and there are many more to be collected.

You can help with the research by contributing examples of nature
metaphors, along with the context and source so that they can be
referenced wherever possible. If you only have a sense of a usage but
can’t provide a source, please add it anyway since I may be able
to supply the missing information. Please include your own personal
imagery too. The list isn’t public at the moment but I do plan to
publish it in a year or so, when your contribution will be
acknowledged if used.

Which nature metaphors have you come across? Please use this form to add your contribution.

I look forward to reading your thoughts,and thanks in advance for your help.

[1]  Gore, A., 1993. Gore’s remarks on the NII, 12-21-93. Available at: [Accessed August 14, 2008]
[2]  Dash, A., Blackbird, Rainman, Facebook and the Watery Web. Available at: [Accessed August 4, 2008].
[3] O’Reilly, T., 2005. What Is Web 2.0: Design Patterns and Business
Models for the Next Generation of Software. O’Reilly. Available at: [Accessed December 31, 2007].
[4] Rangaswami, J.P.  2008. If Twitter were a landscape, what kind of landscape would it be? The Wild Surmise. Available at: [Accessed April 20, 2008].
[5] Terrar, D. J. 2008. If Twitter were a landscape, what kind of landscape would it be? The Wild Surmise. Available at: [Accessed April 20, 2008].

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.