Annette Markham

Markham framework consists of three interrelated metaphors: Internet as tool, place, and way of being. Markham acknowledges that these metaphors are not mutually exclusive of one another. This complicates the task of comparing and contrasting these metaphors using real world examples. Furthermore, the manner in which these metaphors are related with one-another is not definitively explained. Markham offers several possibilities for how they could be considered in relation to one another, but ultimately there is no one unifying model that can be used to apply the metaphoric framework to a distinct topic. This essay will examine two of the metaphors: tool and place but not consider any of Markham’s unifying frameworks.

Way of being is innately different from tool and place because of the blurred boundary that exists between the medium and the individual in this frame. In tool and space, the medium and the individual are conceptualized as separate entities. According to Markham, “Internet as way of being implies an interweaving of technology and human in context.” The importance of the Internet in this frame may be informed by the work of McLuhan (1964), who described how the social consequences of each new medium result from the “new scale that is introduced into our affairs by each extension of ourselves.” In way of life, the importance of the Internet involves the manner in which it mediates our experience of everyday life.

A more holistic analogy can be drawn with Silverstone’s (2006) theory on mediation, which describes an ongoing and dynamic process in which the media and all actors involved in the production, distribution, and reception of media, collaboratively create a “symbolic and cultural space in which meanings are created and communicated beyond the constraints of the face to face.” Applying this frame to real world examples is complicated by its abstract nature.

According to Markham, “this category could be marked by its absence as a conscious frame of reference. Most examples which demonstrate this category effectively are examples in which this category is absent.” For this reason, the essay will focus on the metaphors of Internet as tool and place.