Our World of Metaphors, Analogies, Allusions & Illusions

The Technojungle leads us around by mimicking our real world. We can hunt for some hidden concepts and ideas. How does the Technojungle relate to our real world and attempt to make us feel at home?

I like metaphors and analogies, as you know from reading these books. Many years ago I came across a problem-solving technique to assist a group of people to find alternative solutions, or to reframe a problem—even discover the real problem—by using metaphors and analogies. By analyzing an analogy unrelated in any way to the problem, people can see out-of-the-box. The analysis of the analogy had particular steps that made the process amazingly fun and productive.

We have looked at how the Technojungle can be viewed as a sort of artificial turf and can lead us to the dilemma of artificial lives. Let’s take a look at some of what makes the real and the artificial. 

If you ever use figures of speech containing words, or phrases, to bring to mind an aspect, or characteristic, of something else that you want to apply to that which you are talking about, then you have used a metaphor. When you use something known to compare something unknown to make it better understood, you are making and analogy. If you say something using an allusion, you would be bringing something to mind without actually stating it. When your expectations, perceptions, and beliefs are fooled, or deceived, through what you sense, you have experienced an illusion. Most of the time in these books, I mention metaphors. Sometimes an analogy or allusion might work as well.

Can we find a metaphor, analogy, allusion and illusion in the title of this book: The Future Never Arrives—at least not as expected and it always brings baggage? Baggage is a metaphor. I imagine the future suddenly showing up with all sorts of luggage. Of course the baggage will need to be unpacked, but that is not stated, so this is an allusion. If we believe that the future will arrive and we have certain expectations, we are fooled because as soon as it arrives it becomes the present.

Can you think of any metaphors, analogies, allusions and illusions you use or have experienced? Imagine, just what will AI machines do to understand these sorts of human expressions? Now that could be a dilemma for the Technojungle, perhaps even some baggage for it to unpack.

In the artificial world of the Technojungle, we need to have some sort of reference to begin to make any sort of sense of what we are doing. If the artificial turf of the Technojungle does not relate well to our real world in some way, won’t we have a hard time understanding the new world we are entering? We make meaning out of new information by keying, or linking, it to what we already know. It is a sort of linking thinking. 

Early computers began with little that would relate to the real world. They were operated by very technical people. Maybe nobody thought about any sort of user friendliness we now experience with todays Technojungle computers. I have mentioned some of the history of the computer earlier in book one. Let’s look, another mini safari, further to learn how the artificial world of the computer Technojungle relates to our real world through metaphors, analogies, allusions, and illusions. We need to have some understanding of how the computer Technojungle came to be what we experience today. Then we can begin to spot the metaphors, allusions and illusions that seem to capture us into the Technojungle. See if you can spot any both below and as you safari.

If we believe that the future will arrive and we have certain expectations, we are fooled because as soon as it arrives it becomes the present.

I remember when the Apple Macintosh computer first appeared. Once Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak of Apple Computer Inc. invented personal computer, sometimes called a desktop computer, I began observing the growth of the personal computer. There were many players and IBM (International Business Machines) was the largest. There were also many similar computers to the IBM and they were call IBM Clones, or IBM compatibles. IBM personal computers and the clones used Microsoft DOS (disk operating system) under the hood to run the programs that allowed people to do things with the IBM type personal computer, later shortened to PC. To me, it was just plain awkward. Everything was done with a keyboard and commands. What was seen on screen was archaic text that was rough and made of large dots. If you wanted to print your work, it came out as dots on a dot matrix printer.

One day, after much excitement and anticipation in the news, I saw the Apple Macintosh, or Mac. It had a graphical user interface (GUI). This was a new terms which needed to be explained. It was the part of interacting with the computer that was done using a mouse—an object that could be said to roughly resemble the rodent. What sorts of connotations does mouse bring? Perhaps a little scary at first, but then one might think of cute. Some people might think pest.

The original Macintosh 128K computer first announced in 1983.

With the mouse, one could point to a Menu Bar at the top of the screen to find commands which would tell the computer what to do. It was a more human way to interact with a computer. Everybody has used a menu to order food in a restaurant, so choosing items of orders, or commands, to give a computer from a menu made sense. Programs, or applications and all your files were displayed as icons. This term, icon means something that represents something more. This was a bit more obscure, so a little picture was added to give the icon meaning as to what it represented. You could double-click on an icon to have the computer do something. An application would launch or, if you clicked on a file that was associated with, or created by a particular application, the application would open and then the file (document). Everything could be organized into folders in the same way a filing cabinet might be organized, only you could nest folders inside folders creating a hierarchy that went further than a paper filing cabinet system. You can see how, by relating the operation of the computer to the real world was an attempt to make the computer Technojungle more humanizing.

When the computer showed you what was in a folder or showed the work you were doing, it used a window—a window into the Technojungle. You look in a window to see things. It was easy to understand because it related to our real world. All the inner complexities of the Technojungle computer world were hidden away. You could type and draw using a digital paintbrush. The Mac even added sound and could speak. The first time the Mac was presented, it sat on a table in front of an audience and talked. It said, “Hello, I am Macintosh.” The word Hello was drawn on the screen using the application called MacPaint. I was amazed and knew that the future was not in an arcane command line interface with the computer, but with the GUI (graphical user interface). The Mac was deemed to be more user friendly. Have you ever wondered why they used ‘user friendly’ and didn’t say more human friendly?

It is interesting to see computers using a command line interface developed over 40 years ago still in use today at the time of this writing. Have a look at the computer screen connected to cash registers.

It worked and was easy to learn to use. Because applications could share some similar menus and add their own commands relating to their specific software. A person using a Mac would already know in part how to use a new application, or program. By exploring the menus, they could find and learn other commands, most of which had a keyboard way on invoking, usually called keyboard shortcut. This would be a faster way to operate the software and the computer. A few years later, Microsoft copied the Apple Macintosh’s look and feel with an operating system called Windows. Actually, it was not a true operating system at first. Initially, it ran on top of DOS, so PCs running Windows also required DOS.

The early Mac environment on screen was black and white and one dimensional. As Technojungle computing power grew, the images displayed became more detailed and complex. It was obvious that engineers wanted the Technojungle computer environment to mimic and imitate the real human world. Soon colour was available and designers would make buttons and knobs to look as if they were real and three dimensional. You felt as if you could reach out and push a button or turn a knob, but your fingers would bump into the screen and you would realize that only the mouse could touch those artificial Technojungle images imitating the real human world. 

Backgrounds could have metallic steel finishes or wood grain, whatever the designer wanted to use. Icons became three dimensional and had shadows as if they were standing out. There was even a stage when buttons, etc., were made to look like semi-translucent gel—jelly. 

Have you noticed every effort is made to portray a digital Technojungle world that resembles the real world and more? Isn’t it as if the Technojungle says, “Come in, come in, this is just an extension of your real human world?”

As Technojungle computing power continued to grow, more detail could be displayed. Images and sounds became more and more realistic to draw us in and to make us feel comfortable in a realm that seemed familiar and friendly—trying desperately to be humanizing.

Terminology is an important aspect of the Technojungle computer world and was used to imply or allude to something in our real human world that can convey a meaning. Some make more sense to use than others. 

Much of what we do in the Technojungle involves storing our information in the cloud. The word cloud can conjure up an image of something soft and pillowy that floats quietly around in the sky. It can be a combining and converging of many clouds to make one huge cloud. However, a cloud can also bring rain, or even a storm. So, once again, we can look at both sides of the coin.

Technojungle computers that are connected together create a network. That usually gets shortened when referring to the Internet to The Net. One often casts a net to capture fish or an animal, or something else. One aspect of the Technojungle Internet is the vast number of inter-connected pages (actually just files, but pages helps us make more sense of what it happening) called a web. In our human world, a spider actually spins a web to catch food. A spider on the Technojungle Internet is what a search engine sends out to crawl all over the web and grab information to reference web pages for searches. 

Google, now an official term in the dictionary, originated from the mis-spelling of the word googol which means a 1 followed by one hundred 0s. The idea was to convey the vast amount of information Google would provide. Another instance of the name Google was for Barney Google, a comic strip character in the early part of the twentieth century and made famous by a song, Barney Google, with the goo-goo-goo-ga-ly eyes. Barney Google was a goofy sort of fellow.

What sort of image comes to mind when you hear surf the web? How about a human person on a surfboard surfing a spider’s web. Now that is getting a bit weird. It seems strange to say you go to a website when you don’t really go anywhere. People often say, “…up on the Internet.” Up where, I ask? How does unwanted E-mail that you did not subscribe to, or want become spam? Spam was a form of canned meat that was used in WWII. In our family, we used to call it army meat. Spam is still popular on the Hawaiian Islands. 

I have been talking about the surface of the Technojungle that we see and interact with everyday. Beneath the surface is the UNIX world, perhaps a Technojungle underworld. It has no end of unique and unusual terminology. A daemon is a background process that runs without interaction with a human user. Here is what it means: a divinity or supernatural being of a nature between gods and humans; an inner or attendant spirit or inspiring force. It is an archaic spelling of demon. Hmmm…

This chapter has been a mini safari through portions of computer history to discover some of the true nature of what we experience through, and understand about, the computer Technojungle. I purposely mixed in some of my own metaphors, analogies, allusions and illusions; did you pick them out? When you analyze the computer Technojungle yourself, can you see the metaphors, analogies, allusions and illusions? Keep these four in mind as you safari on toward the future.

I’m not here to wave my arms about shouting the evil nature of the Technojungle. Don’t all jungles have their beauty and their beast sides? This is another common dilemma. Isn’t it up to us to tame the beasts of the jungle? To say the Technojungle is a fake representation of some aspects of our real world may hold some truth, however, don’t humans have the ability to conquer and even make the fake and artificial real in some way? The point here is learning how we can hold on to, by reclaiming, retaining, maintaining and protecting, our humanness and humanity, and to civilize the Technojungle before we are eaten alive by wild beasts. Being better human beings and learning to live in the world of technology we are calling the Technojungle is the goal we are shooting for. 

The Technojungle is a world of odd relationships with our real human world. It attempts to make us feel at home and human. Yet there are some interesting connotations we can dig up. In a world that is changing so fast and becoming so different from the decade before, what and who can we trust?

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