Metaphors-2 - Feelings Stuck in a GUI web metaphors...

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Feelings Stuck in a GUI web: metaphors, image-schemas, and designing the human computer interface or Metaphors we compute by: bringing magic into interface design by Tim Rohrer Tim Rohrer. The most important tool a physicist has is the trash can. --Albert Einstein Why do you people in the sciences always ask for so much funding for your labs? The math department only asks for paper, pencil and trash cans. And the philosophy department doesn't even ask for trash cans. --anonymous university dean I. Magical trash cans and inconsistent metaphors A notoriously quirky feature of working with a Macintosh computer is that for a user to eject a diskette from the computer, an icon of the disk must be dropped onto the Trash Can icon. It is well known that the guiding paradigm behind the Apple Macintosh OS is something called the DESKTOP metaphor. In the DESKTOP metaphor, the computer screen is a virtual 'desktop' with electronic 'folders,' 'documents,' 'disk icons' and a 'trash can' which are patterned after the physical objects in the physical office. The user interacts with this virtual world by using a mouse, an input device which allows one to move an arrow across the desktop and pick up an electronic object by clicking and holding a mouse button. To get rid of a physical document from my desktop, I toss it in the trash can. To delete an electronic document in the virtual world of the Macintosh OS, I simply grab the document and move it on top of the electronic trash can, into which the document disappears. Deleting a document from the computer is patterned after the action of throwing out a paper document--in both cases, place the document in the trash can. (Like the real world trash can, the electronic documents tossed into the Macintosh trash can remain there until the trash is emptied.) But while deleting a file using the trash can makes perfect sense to most users, ejecting a diskette by placing it in onto the trash can meets with reluctance and dismay. Many experienced users even confess to feeling a twinge of anxiety every time they eject a disk using the trash can, though they know from experience they are not deleting the information on their disks. I have known some users who, when faced with a need to eject a disk, prefer to shut down the system and have the disk eject automatically rather than throwing their disk into the trash can. This feature of the Macintosh desktop is so quirky and counterintuitive that a computer lab I have known had a sign on every Macintosh which explained that "in order to eject a disk, the user should drag the disk icon onto the trash icon and drop it." Why should this action be so counterintuitive? Collins [1] explains that using the trash can metaphor to eject disks is "an example of magic that goes too far." [2] He suggests that metaphors are most intuitive to users when they are fairly literal, as in deleting a document by tossing it in the trash can. But metaphors can also be "magical;" that is, metaphors can be extended in important ways which do not precisely mimic their
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This document was uploaded on 09/19/2011.

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Metaphors-2 - Feelings Stuck in a GUI web metaphors...

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