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Abstract

Reasoning about complex and abstract ideas is greatly influenced by the choice of metaphors through which they are represented. In this paper we consider the framing effect in military doctrine of considering cyberspace as a domain of action, parallel to the traditional domains of land, sea, air, and space. By means of the well-known Victorian science-fiction novella Flatland, we offer a critique of this dominant cyber metaphor. In Flatland, the problems of lower-dimensional beings comprehending additional dimensions are explored at some length. Inspired by Flatland, our suggested alternate metaphor for cyber is an additional (fourth) dimension. We then propose three common characteristics between the world of Spaceland as experienced by Flatland natives and that of Cyberland as experienced by humans, and finally explore some possible new insights suggested by the Flatland dimensional metaphor.

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