Ten New Metaphors For Cyberspace
1. My Grandmother’s Kitchen
Databases hang like commemorative plates on the HTML wall, advertisement gilt gleaming on their edges except for the General Patton limited edition, which holds a gunmetal trim of spiky security. Search engines purr with algorithmic bliss, popping up results while a dishwasher chugs in censorship, scrubbing its links clean of revolutionary references. Underfoot, carpet flickers, old e–mail messages woven into the warp and weft of its threads, scattered with cookie crumbs. Every week there’s garbage collection, hexagonal bins full of old files wheeled to the curb, ready to be collected.
2. The Garden of Eden
Infomercial butterflies flutter here and there, obscuring knowledge or distorting it through the stained glass shimmer of their wings. Applets dangle from the trees and there are animals everywhere, rabbits quick as web–services and lions protecting copyrights, birds weaving nests of random statistics. Somewhere in the verdant, glassy grass an ASP slithers like a virus, whispering forbidden, encrypted words.
3. A Crazy Quilt
Embroideries of data links elaborate each patch, signaling its access type with their pattern, cross–stitch for unimpeded access near French knots of one–time passwords.
The fabric tells the fee, public denims and burlap against slicker subsidized sites made of mercerized cotton or flashy R–rated satin.
Punch through the folds to the infrastructure built of bed linens, layers of uncountable threads, a wooly blanket of processes scratchy to the touch.
4. Minkler’s Hardware Store, ca. 1980
Here in this room, high ceilinged and sporting a fan whispering daily headlines as it spins above the clerk named Archie, the minutiae are kept, shining bolts and nuts and washers and nails and screws in tiny partitioned drawers. The system jolts with a database’s corruption, and silvery data spills in a spray across the wood–grained floor, whose whorls and burls tell the story of the Net’s history.
5. A Flaming Cave
Flickers of every color, great leaping pyres and half seen shimmers betraying the movements of others in the data stream. See how hotly that corporate database shines? Touch it and you’ll be burned, consumed within your mind like a phoenix.
6. A Medieval Village
Perhaps it’s more like a Disney conception of a medieval village: the rustic inn with a McDonald’s logo that serves as main access for the neighborhood, a baudy wench with a corporate slogan across her cleavage, the coachman outside a financial access point winking sly stock tips. Teams of white Percherons pull wagonloads of integers, lumbering by in an instant that seems slower than molasses.
7. A 12 Year Old Girl’s Closet
Oh, pink, pink, relentless pink! Spangles of information everywhere, an array of Hello Kitty stickers sponsored by Sanrio and Sony, poster blogs depicting the latest American Idol, fuzzy spam filters full of lint and bubble gum integers. Each drawer opens with its own perfume, lemon for media biographies, cinnamon for the cooking network, cedar sawdust for history and, hidden beneath the bed, the heavy musk and patchouli of porn.
8. A Mall Pet Store
Normal, for the most part, except for the startling way the aquariums float loose and drift around the store. Data fish move from one domain’s tank to another, intermingling, frilled fans of checksums becoming tattered as they corrupt each others’ integrity. To buy the data,you must purchase a container — anti–virus bubbler optional.
9. A Grandfather Clock
Hear the hour chiming? Each time zone perceives it differently, the boom of Pacific Daylight, the bang of Eastern Standard.
Tap a numbered sector of its face and the area expands, letting you drill down through history. Somewhere a hacker mouse runs up and down the shiny wood, pursued by software with a carving knife.
10. The Junkyard
This is where the abandoned data goes to die and in its rot, daisies of projected theories and Tetris–variants spring up, nourishing themselves on nitrogen–rich bytes of information. That rusted, useless car was once Google’s pride, but now they’re elsewhere in a cybernetic demolition derby, creating new colossal wrecks to host more flowers and hybrid metaphors.
Cat Rambo lives and writes beside Lake Sammammish in the Pacific Northwest with her charming husband Wayne. Her work has appeared in Fantasy Magazine, Strange Horizons, and Talebones, among other places. A graduate of Clarion West and the Johns Hopkins Writing Seminar, she is currently finishing a fantasy novel. Her website appears at
Story © 2007 Cat Rambo. All other content copyright © 2007 ByrenLee Press
Art Director: Bonnie Brunish