As someone who does work on online communities and spatial informatics, I’m very much aware of the extent to which we tend to use spatial metaphors to talk about web-based technologies. I asked around the Social Media Collective (including our mighty network of esteemed colleagues) for favorite critiques of the intertwining of space and the internet, and thought I’d share the list of sources here.
Abrams, J. & Hall, P. (Eds.) (2006). Else/where: Mapping new cartographies of networks and territories. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Design Institute.
Bederson, B. B., & Hollan, J. D. (1994). Pad++: A zooming graphical interface for exploring alternate interface physics. Proceedings of the 7th annual ACM symposium on User interface software and technology, pp. 17-26. Retrieved from http://www.cs.umd.edu/projects/hcil/pad++/papers/uist-94-pad/uist-94-pad.pdf
Chun, W. H. K. (2006). Control and freedom: Power and paranoia in the age of fiber optics. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. (See Chapter 1 in particular)
Cohen, J. (2007). Cyberspace and/as place. Columbia Law Review, 107, 210-256. Retrieved from http://ssrn.com/abstract=898260
Dodge, M. (2001). Cybergeography. Environment and Planning B: planning and Design, 28(1), 1-2.
Donath, J. (2014). The social machine: Designs for living online. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. (See in particular chapter 3).
Druick, Z. (1995). The information superhighway, or the politics of a metaphor. Bad Subjects, 18. Retrieved from http://bad.eserver.org/issues/1995/18/druck.html
Gandy, Jr., O. H., & Farrall, K. N. (2009). Metaphoric reinforcement of the virtual fence factors shaping the political economy of property in cyberspace. In A. Chadwick & P. N. Howard (Eds.), Routledge Handbook of Internet Politics, p. 349. New York, NY: Routledge.
Graham, M. (2013). Geography/Internet: Ethereal alternate dimensions of cyberspace or grounded augmented realities. The Geographical Journal. Retrieved from http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2166874
Harnad, S. (1990). The symbol grounding problem. Physica D: Nonlinear Phenomena, 42(1), 335-346. Retrieved from http://cogprints.org/615/1/The_Symbol_Grounding_Problem.html
Harrison, S., & Dourish, P. (1996). Re-place-ing space: The roles of place and space in collaborative Systems. In Proc. of CSCW ’96. Retrieved from http://www.dourish.com/publications/1996/cscw96-place.pdf
Hunter, D. (2003). Cyberspace as place and the tragedy of the digital anticommons. California Law Review, 91(2). Retrieved from http://scholarship.law.berkeley.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1380&context=californialawreview
Kerr, O. S. (2002).The problem of perspective in Internet law. Geographic Law Journal, 91. Retrieved from http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=310020.
Lakoff, G. & Johnson, M. (1980). Metaphors we live by. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Lyman, P. (1998). The poetics of the future: Information highways, virtual communities and digital libraries. Presented at the Lazerow Lecture Series, School of Library and Information Sciences, UCLA. Retrieved from http://www.freeebay.net/site/index2.php?option=com_content&do_pdf=1&id=369
Mansell, R. (2012). Imagining the internet: communication, innovation, and governance. Oxford University Press.
Markham, A. (1998). Life online: Researching real experience in virtual space. Walnut Creek, CA: Altamira Press.
Nelson, L. D., & Simmons, J. P. (2009). On southbound ease and northbound fees: Literal consequences of the metaphoric link between vertical position and cardinal direction. Journal of Marketing Research, 46(6), 715-724. Retrieved from http://cogprints.org/615/1/The_Symbol_Grounding_Problem.html
Schubert, T. W. (2005). Your highness: Vertical positions as perceptual symbols of power. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 89, (1). Retrieved from http://www.igroup.org/schubert/papers/schubert_jpsp05.pdf
Stefik, M. (1997). Internet Dreams: Archetypes, Myths, and Metaphors. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Turner, F. (2005). Where the counterculture met the new economy: The WELL and the origins of virtual community. Technology and Culture 46 (3), 485–512. Retrieved from http://media-study.com/resources/pdfs/TurnerCounterculture.pdf
Wilken, R. (2013). An exploratory comparative analysis of the use of metaphors in writing on the Internet and mobile phones. Social Semiotics, 23(5), 632-647. Retrieved from http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10350330.2012.738999
Wyatt, S. (2000). Talking about the future: Metaphors of the Internet. In N. Brown, B. Rappert & A. Webster (Eds.), Contested futures: A sociology of prospective techno-science, pp. 109-26. Aldershot: Ashgate Press.