Reply to post: Packet is a metaphor

Net neutrality: How to spot an arts graduate in a tech debate

Diarmuid Pigott

Packet is a metaphor

Spot the computer science majors with a poor understanding of logic as well as argumentation.

All reasoning is in part metaphoric, because we need common terms for debate. So picking holes in other people's metaphors is fine, but objecting them to using them in the first place is daft, and show a lack of understanding of argumentation in the first place. (And as for an appeal to Boolean logic? in 2015?)

Packet, Exchange, Medium are all naturalised metaphors - they're metaphors that were so useful they became terms in the jargon set. But if the grounds of the metaphor (the reason the model was considered applicable in the first place) fails, then the metaphor does.

As Stamper pointed out in the 70s, all accounts of information are ridden with metaphors and ultimately incoherent. (Stamper, R.K. (1985) Towards a Theory of Information: Information: Mystical Fluid or a Subject for Scientific Enquiry? The Computer Journal 28, 195.)

Carnot explained the heat cycle in terms of caloric, a metaphoric-derived term for the transmission of heat. Likewise Elan Vital (Bergson) and the Ether (everyone). A better understanding of the nature of heat (Clausewitz) gave us entropy as a non-metaphoric term. This may yet happen with information.

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