Monday, September 17, 2012

Drew Thomas Foley completes dissertation in the School of Human and Organizational Development

Navigating Mythic Space in the Digital Age, Drew Thomas Foley

In prior ages, alternate worlds are associated with symbolic expressions of storied space, here termed mythic space. The digital age brings new forms of virtual space that are co-existent with physical space. These virtual spaces may be understood as a contemporary representation of mythic space. This dissertation explores the paths by which mythic space is navigated in the digital age. The cartographic metaphor is applied to questions concerning the nature of boundaries, relationships, and paths of navigation in virtual space. These questions present implications for the ways that spheres of work, play, and social connections are navigated in the emerging age. The research builds upon the ideas of cosmologist Edward Harrison and systems theorist Will McWhinney to establish connections to current literature on the ways that digital information systems shape the stories that we live. The inquiry uses traditional stories as a framing device to illustrate concepts through the companionship of symbolic (story) and analytic (cartographic) forms. Guide figures from literature offer insight into similarities and distinctions between the emerging digital age and prior historical periods. The reflexive approach considers the role of shared stories in providing orientation across traditional and digital spaces. Comparisons between analog and digital forms of grammar are used to articulate patterns that underlie contemporary conceptions of space. The study finds support for the ways that these connected spaces may serve as a fertile ground for the creation of shared stories.

Key Words: Digital Age, Myth, Mythic Space, Mythopoesis, Navigation, Story

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