Conduit Metaphor

In linguistics, the conduit metaphor is a dominant class of figurative expressions used when discussing communication itself. It operates whenever people speak or write as if they "insert" their mental contents (feelings, meanings, thoughts, concepts, etc.) into "containers" (words, phrases, sentences, etc.) whose contents are then "extracted" by listeners and readers. Thus, language is viewed as a "conduit" conveying mental content between people. wikipedia

Defined and described by linguist Michael J. Reddy, PhD, his discovery of this conceptual metaphor refocused debate within and outside the linguistic community on the importance of metaphorical language.

See Reddy, M. J. (1979). The conduit metaphor: A case of frame conflict in our language about language. In A. Ortony (Ed.), Metaphor and Thought (pp. 284–310). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pdf


Although common metaphors survive in a darwinian sense because they have some utility, metaphors can lead to long-standing misunderstandings. Reddy argues exactly this in the close of his paper when he observes that most people think knowledge is collected in the university library, not the faculty that teach it.

Reddy's paper provided some inspiration for the sparse navigation of the original wiki now made even sparser with federation. This thinking has been tangentially defined in principle as High Awareness in Foraging.

We return to the notion of conduit when we lists requirements for wiki as a medium worthy of lasting human attention. See Conduit of High Fidelity