Metaphors matter. We reduce complex ideas into little, packaged parables for ease of communication. But this gift isn’t free. Metaphors ignore details and carry unintended meanings. Be thoughtful with them and update them as needed. They’re increasingly dangerous as they stagnate.
The idea of a ‘walled garden’ glosses over users’ gradual behaviors and encourages binary thinking.
Start thinking of knife blocks instead.
During the first internet era, the web was sold to users in self contained packages. Prodigy, AOL, and others were delivered as kits containing everything a new browser would foreseeably need: email, stocks, news, weather, and chats. The web was new and confusing, so these kits were appealing. They smoothed the learning curve by obscuring it entirely.
As we grew accustomed to the internet, we outgrew AOL and Prodigy. We ventured to Hotmail or Gmail because they had more features and storage. We learned how to search with text because Google granted access to more of the web than point-and-click category buttons. We choose new screennames on Skype because it let us talk to people, not simply text.
As we became acclimatized internet users, we picked the services which best fit our needs. The internet starter kits we began with became obsolete.
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