One of the most powerful ways to reimagine the status quo is to engage in lateral thinking. When you combine this practice with the insight that we think and speak in metaphors (even though this is difficult to recognize because it’s so intertwined with habits), you can begin to have insights that elude logical thinkers.

The Web today is bound by metaphors we barely acknowledge. One such metaphor bounding the Web — the conduit metaphor — is wonderfully described in this post, “Framing the Net,” from one of the authors of the Cluetrain Manifesto.

Alaska’s Senator Ted Stevens famously brought this metaphor to the mainstream by referring to the Internet as a “series of tubes,” part of a foggy diatribe Jon Stewart (The Daily Show) and others had plenty of fun with.

Framing the Net” is a great thought piece touching on Net Neutrality. One quote to give you a taste:

Unlike phone and cable systems, the Net was never meant to be understood, much less charged out, as minutes or channels. Those are mechanisms for organizing scarcity. The Net was built to support abundance.

The challenge is to recognize these metaphors and use lateral thinking to create new options. The infinite zero is a mind-bending new concept that is both metaphorical and a “provocative alternative.”

As the metaphors around information technology melt away, it becomes clearer that the scarcity is no longer in the technology or the network capacity, but in the users. Old information technologies were too inefficient and bounded to push the human capacity to process and manage information beyond its limits. Now, our attention’s finite capacity is being revealed.

Where will this lead? And will we continue to follow?

(Am I utilizing the best metaphor (lead-follow)?)

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Kent Anderson

Kent Anderson

Kent Anderson is the CEO of RedLink and RedLink Network, a past-President of SSP, and the founder of the Scholarly Kitchen. He has worked as Publisher at AAAS/Science, CEO/Publisher of JBJS, Inc., a publishing executive at the Massachusetts Medical Society, Publishing Director of the New England Journal of Medicine, and Director of Medical Journals at the American Academy of Pediatrics. Opinions on social media or blogs are his own.