Metaphors, models and communicative spaces: designing local wireless infrastructure.
Canadian journal of communication, 36
Communications policies, like many other social policies, are founded on an ideal of democracy that frames increased access to and autonomy of communication infrastructure as aspects of democratic public spheres. Projects that aim at developing these capacities must grapple with the way such new media technologies are integrated into existing contexts or spaces, often using metaphors to frame their expectations. This paper analyzes how such metaphors are employed in the case of local wireless networking. Based on the nature of the metaphors employed, are local wireless networks – developed either top-down or bottom up – likely to produce more democratic communication spaces? Referring to empirical research on networks located in Montreal and Fredericton, Canada, the paper critiques the narrow approach to democratization of communication spaces inherent in networks of this type. This narrow focus is associated with metaphors used to describe a co-evolution of wireless technology and urban space. The paper identifies that the design processes that shape these networks could benefit from a more radical democratization associated with metaphors of recombination of space and technology. Such a shift in the framing and design of urban technology projects would have an impact on local wireless projects as well as many other projects aimed at democratizing communications or otherwise advancing social justice aims.
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