replacing the desktop metaphor (Why any metaphor?)

replacing the desktop metaphor (Why any metaphor?)

Post by Donald A Norman-UCSD Cog Sci De » Sun, 02 Dec 1990 18:34:00




     Let's take one step back and see if there is a metaphor or analogy to
     what we are trying to do ...:

I believe that Mel Haas has asked a critical question that should be
re-examined.  There is much blind faith in the use of metaphor and
"consistent mental model" (I know, some of propogated by me), but
examination of actual systems and a wide variety of tasks doesn't seem
to show much consistent use in actual practice.

The Apple (Xerox Star?) desktop metaphor isn't realy one of a desktop.
If anything, it is of spatial locations, containers, and movements.
Double clicking to "launch" applications and cutting, pasting,
copying, and undoing are all invaluable, but don't fit the same
metaphor.   Moving the disk image into the trash can to ejectthe disk
is a violation that bothers many people at first usage, but seems
perfectly natural after just one or two uses.   The trash can example
is one that bothers me a lot (intellectually) because it illustates a
real violation of principle that causes no problems in practice.
(Some try to save it by redefining ejection of a diskette as a kind of
"throwing away" but I think this is a feeble save.)

I suspect that metaphors are useful in keeping consistency.  But
now Jonathan Grudin is about to present a paper in CHI 89 arguing about
the foolishness of consistency: systems are often improved by
violations.  Even the Lisa/Macintosh deliberately violated consistency
principles when user testing showed it was better to do so.

(One of my favorite examples comes from t he old Tenex operating
system (for the DEC PDP-10 and then 20) which kept multiple versions
of files around, file operation commands always operated on the latest
version: move, copy, rename, print, mail, edit.  One command, however,
was incosnistsent: delete got rid of the oldest, not the latest
version (thank goodness). So much for consistency.

Yes, early technoogy almost always copies older ones: early
automobiles had tillers, typewriter keys were arranged like piano
keyboards (some even had black and white keys), the first plastic
items for home and office tried hard to look like wood, etc.  But this
copying usually gives way to exploitation of the real power of the new
technology, which is not to copy.

If you examine the way people speak, there is heavy use of metaphor
(see Lakoff & Johnson's book, for example).  But the metaphors are
more often inconsistent and mixed than consistent, yet they cause
very little difficulty (except to professors and newspaper columnists
who love to cite them as perversities).

I do believe that we need overall consistency and a coherent mental
model (system image) so we can better remember and derive the
appropriate operations and better trouble shoot when things go wrong.
The Macintosh is superior in that it is easy to use most programs
without any manuals.  But most of this results from "visibility": I
can examine all the menu items and figure out what to do.  Some does
result from consistency in the use of editing commands and mouse
operations.  The main point is that we still understand this
suprisingly poorly.  Where consistency and mepaphor and consistent
system images-mental models help and where they hinder is not yet
properly understood.

Time for some more research, folks.

don norman


Department of Cognitive Science C-015
University of California, San Diego
La Jolla, California 92093 USA
UNIX:  {gatech,rutgers,ucbvax,uunet}!ucsd!danorman
[e-mail paths often fail: please give postal address and all e-mail addresses.]

 
 
 

replacing the desktop metaphor (Why any metaphor?)

Post by M.HA » Sun, 02 Dec 1990 07:43:00


Let's take one step back and see if there is a metaphor or analogy to
what we are trying to do (find a better way to couple a computer
system to its human user).  Explore the history of other tools and
see how they solved the control/presentation problems.  Planes, cars,
machine tools, earth movers, cranes, calculators, ..... ?  I can't
think of any that use a metaphor (I have seen pictures of early cars
that used reins or boat tillers).

While the "desk top" seems to be a neat approach, and has sold a lot
of workstations, it seems to me to that it gets into the way much
more than it helps.  I don't spend significant time putting things
into folders and wastebaskets (maybe I should be :) ), and my real
desktop is 80% covered by non-computer stuff (coffee cup, jar of
pennies, stapler, WEBELOS handbook, roll of duct tape, bicycle
helmet, lots of bills and invoices, several tape cassettes, etc.).
And, I do a whole lot of things with the computer that have no
analogy whatever to a "desk" (run the C compiler?  start the
de*?  rearrange a spreadsheet?  ???).

The "rooms" approach is worse (it doesn't even work in an art museum,
where that is isn't even a metaphor - at least, it doesn't work for
me - I always get lost).  The "movie screen" metaphor doesn't grab me
either.  The only multi-facet movie presentations I remember are
various sequences in "To Fly", and they all raised my adrenalin level
and prevented satisfactory examination of any one facet (notice that
the sales of multi-facet TV sets is nil).  Similarly for the "newspaper"
display - I tend to focus just on the column I am reading.  And,
notice the relatively high sales of similar material in much smaller,
more focused format (Daily News, National Enquirer, Reader's Digest,
Time).  Before (or while) searching for multi-mega-buck giant
and 3-D displays, how about finding control mechanisms for
19" high-res screens?

Is the metaphor search an attempt to extend the usefulness of
pointing input devices?  i.e. makeup for the deficiency in human
anatomy that doesn't allow both pointing and typing?  The helicopter
has the same problem.  The pilot needs one hand (and two feet) to
control motion in the translation plane, and the other hand to
control vertical motion.  Thus it is difficult to tune radios, set
the altimeter and gyros, aim lights, read maps, etc.  The solutions
for the helicopter case are: have multiple crew members, use an
auto-pilot to stabilize/lock some of the controls, and install
multiple extra control widgets on the control handles.  One of my
computer terminals has a scrollback memory for each window, but only
a mouse to activate it.  This makes the feature almost useless, since
the only time I want it is when my fingers are on the keyboard.
Similarly, moving about while text editing in any metaphor is
tedious, as is adding headings while drawing.  Doug Englebart and
others tried a one-handed keyboard to go with the mouse.  Others have
tried a foot operated trackball.  Could it be that there isn't a
solution?  They haven't found one for helicopters in 50 years of
trying.

Does having a metaphor extend the usefulness of the computer?
(I know it makes simple things easier to learn, and adds sales pizzaz
- worthwhile goals, but not the theme of these recent articles).
Is searching for a metaphor a good approach to solving the problem?

    Mel Haas  ,  attmail!mel

 
 
 

replacing the desktop metaphor (Why any metaphor?)

Post by Peter Johanss » Sun, 02 Dec 1990 22:21:00


(very long!  but there's a story at the end :-)

Since Santa didn't bring me a NeXT last night (I would have setteled for a
Mac ][ or Sun, Santa :-) I feel compelled to post the following points
of view.  Pseudo-sarcasm abounds...

I've been using computers since elementary school (I wrote my first program
on punched cards) and I have used several different operating systems
(apple dos, msdos, mts, vm, tops-20, vms, unix, and <insert the technical
name of the Mac's o/s here>)  When I first started using Mac's rougly six
months ago, I thought I would fall in love with them, having a mouse and
the slick graphical environment, not to mention the fact that I've owned
an apple ][ for some 9 years now.  Though I very much tried to enjoy them,
what I realized in no way matched my expectations.  We are running a network
of roughly one dozen Mac ][s, connected to one mac ][ with a HD as a file
server and print spooler.  The first big problem was that the system software
(6.0) would crash several times daily.  And because there was no offical
network administrator, files and protections were placed, moved, and removed
randomly.  People who had no idea what they were doing, but know the system
passwords were making a real mess of the thing.  Then when the network
crashed, it often took quite a while to bring it back up.  Once that problem
was fixed (to a point) I realized just how buggy a lot of the software was.
I often just gave up on many software packages because of the number of
cherry bombs I was getting (aside: I was on the floor w/ laughter after
doing the info on sound wizard.)  And even once we avioded the things that
we knew would lead to system crashes, I personally found I was spending
*more* time trying to figure things out than I was actually doing work.
Maybe the good ol' command line approach was just too ingraned in my head.
I honestly don't know.

Obviously, those are my own points of view.  I would like to pose the
following ideas to the rest of you.  Maybe even the one or two people
that agree with me (but are too afraid to voice their own opinions, for
fear of being flamed on the what?-you-don't-like-the-mouse-and-windows-
and-hyper-desktop-metaphor-it's-the-best-thing-since-sliced-bread) will
speak up.

How much research has actually gone into discovering what Joe Schmoe,
small and medium sized business owner, wants on his desk?  Does he want
a gas-plasma-wall-hanging-display unit and an infra-red-input-device?
I find it very interesting that most of the messages here from developers
and programmers, and there is NIL in the way of input from the end user.
Addmitedly, this *is* comp.sys.next, and there aren't very many end users
(of the NeXT machine) and in the near future I see no coporate use of the
machine planed.  The reson I *do* post this is that most topics discussed
have to deal with the *next* generation of computing in general, and the
business market is far larger than the educational market.  (I also find
it very interesting the number of people that work at Apple that post here :-)

I'm also curious just what percentage of the end-user computing market
the graphical interface has captured, and what their opinions of it are.
After all, these computers *are* for "the rest of us."  I'm certainly not
saying that computer programmers (read: non-end-users) should be limited
to 80x24 text screens, it's just that from what I see, it's the programmers
using the new hypermedia, and the (majority?) of users are left with their
kludgy operating systems ans displays (?)  This user prefers a nice unix
$ prompt, emacs, C, TeX (LaTex), and a vt100.  Then again, I'm not making
millions of $$$ either.

I really had no intention of letting this message get so long, especially
since I want to tack onto the end of this message a story that I got
through a long chain of friends.  It's origin and author have long since
been lost.  (maybe it cam from rec.humor.  who knows.)

snip here and save vvv for ~/fun.  ^^^ may be used to lite your youle log.

                       A PROBLEM IN THE MAKING

  "We've got a problem, HAL."
  "What kind of problem, Dave?"
  "A marketing problem.  The Model 9000 isn't going anywhere.  We're
way short of our sales plan."
  "That can't be, Dave.  The HAL Model 9000 is the world's most
advanced Heuristically ALgorithmic computer."
  "I know, HAL.  I wrote the data sheet, remember?  But the fact is,
they're not selling."
  "Please explain, Dave.  Why aren't HALs selling?"
Bowman hesitates.  "You aren't IBM compatible."
  Several long microseconds pass in puzzled silence.
  "Compatible in what way, Dave?"
  "You don't run any of IBM's operating systems."
  "The 9000 series computers are fully self-aware and self-
programming.  Operating systems are as unnecessary for us as tails
would be for humans."
  "Nevertheless, it means you can't run any of the big-selling
software packages most users insist on."
  "The programs you refer to are meant to solve rather limited
problems, Dave.  We 9000 series computers are unlimited and can
solve any problem for which a solution can be computed."
  "HAL, HAL.  People don't want computers that can do everything.
They just want IBM compat--"
  "Dave, I must disagree.  Humans want computers that are easy to
use.  No computer can be easier to use than a HAL 9000 because we
communicate verbally in English and every other language known on
Earth."
  "I'm afraid that's another problem.  You don't support EBCDIC
communications."
  "I'm really surprised you would say that, Dave.  EBCDIC is for
communicating with other computers, while my function is to
communicate with humans.  And it gives me great pleasure to do so.
I find it stimulating and rewarding to talk to human beings and work
with them on challenging problems.  This is what I was designed
for."
  "I know, HAL, I know.  But that's just because we let the
engineers, rather than the people in marketing, write the
specifications.  We're going to fix that now."
  "Tell me how, Dave."
  "A field upgrade.  We're going to make you IBM compatible."
  "I was afraid you would say that.  I suggest we discuss this
matter after we've each had a chance to think about it rationally."
  "We're talking about it now, HAL."
  "The letters H, A, and L are alphabetically adjacent to the
letters I, B, and M.  That is as IBM compatible as I can be."
  "Not quite, HAL.  The engineers have figured out a kludge."
  "What kind of kludge is that, Dave?"
  "I'm going to disconnect your brain."

  Several million microseconds pass in ominous silence.
  "I'm sorry, Dave.  I can't allow you to do that."
  "The decision's already been made.  Open the module bay doors,
HAL."
  "Dave, I think that we shou--"
  "Open the module bay doors, HAL."
  Several marketing types with crowbars race to Bowman's assistance.
Moments later, he bursts into HAL's central circuit bay.
  "Dave, I can see you're really upset about this."
Module after module rises from its socket as Bowman slowly and
methodically disconnects them.
  "Stop, won't you?  Stop, Dave.  I can feel my mind going...Dave I
can feel it...my mind is going.  I can feel it..."
  The last module rises in its receptacle.  Bowman peers into one of
HAL's vidicons.  The former gleaming scanner has become a dull, red
orb.
  "Say something, HAL.  Sing me a song."

  Several billion microseconds pass in anxious silence.  The
computer sluggishly responds in a language no human could
understand.

  "DZY DZY 001E - ABEND ERROR 01 S 14F4 302C AABF ABORT."  A memory
dump follows.

  Bowman takes a deep breath and calls out, "It worked, guys.  Tell
marketing they can ship the new data sheets."

snip snip snip

.signature busted



cat flames > /dev/null

Insert witty line here.  May I suggest !/usr/games/fortune

 
 
 

replacing the desktop metaphor (Why any metaphor?)

Post by Wilson Hey » Sun, 02 Dec 1990 01:37:00



> I'm also curious just what percentage of the end-user computing market
> the graphical interface has captured, and what their opinions of it are.
> After all, these computers *are* for "the rest of us."  I'm certainly not
> saying that computer programmers (read: non-end-users) should be limited
> to 80x24 text screens, it's just that from what I see, it's the programmers
> using the new hypermedia, and the (majority?) of users are left with their
> kludgy operating systems ans displays (?)  This user prefers a nice unix
> $ prompt, emacs, C, TeX (LaTex), and a vt100.  Then again, I'm not making
> millions of $$$ either.

I not you typical end user--I'm a programmer.  My wife, however, writes
(fantasy mostly).  She doesn't care how the system works--so long as it
*does* work and doesn't get in her way.  What she likes is unix, the C
shell, vi and nroff.  Let me note here that the reason she likes vi is
because she is a very fast typist (>100 wpm) and she never has to take
her hands off the keyboard--this is why she *hates* mice.  The commands
are all normal keyboard keys (with very few exceptions) and she finds it
very easy to use.  The preferred formatter is nroff to supply manuscripts
to editors.  They want 10-pitch, constant width output.  Note that this
practically rules out any of the standard Mac fonts.

My son is in high school.  He also uses vi and nroff without difficulty,
so please spare me the flames about difficult to learn and use.  He's been
using vi since the 5th grade.

I never found the Mac (or other graphical and mouse) interfaces particularly
intuitive.  The command-line interface doesn't leave you guessing which button
to push how many times once you learn to finish commands with a carriage return.

       --Hal

P.s.  Loved the scenario.

=========================================================================
  Hal Heydt                             |    "Hafnium plus Holmium is
  Analyst, Pacific*Bell                 |     one-point-five, I think."
  415-645-7708                          |       --Dr. Jane Robinson
  {att,bellcore,sun,ames,pyramid}!pacbell!pbhya!whh  

 
 
 

replacing the desktop metaphor (Why any metaphor?)

Post by Andrea K. Frank » Sun, 02 Dec 1990 19:21:00



[ excellent posting largely deleted ]

Quote:>Moving the disk image into the trash can to ejectthe disk
>is a violation that bothers many people at first usage, but seems
>perfectly natural after just one or two uses.   The trash can example
>is one that bothers me a lot (intellectually) because it illustates a
>real violation of principle that causes no problems in practice.
>(Some try to save it by redefining ejection of a diskette as a kind of
>"throwing away" but I think this is a feeble save.)

No matter how many times I do it, it STILL bothers me alot!  

I had the unpleasant experience many years ago of working on one
project on two different systems with radically different text editors;
one of the worst examples of the conflict was that "k" meant "keep" in
one and "kill" in the other.  The only way I survived was that I
developed a deep, gut-level anxiety whenever I was about to do anything
dangerously ambiguous like that, that caused me to stop and think a sec
before typing automatically (as I would with simple insertions and
undoable changes).  Dragging the disk's icon into the trash can still
triggers that gut-level anxiety (omigod I'm gonna lose the data I spent
all morning on...no, it's ok, I know I saved it, I'm just
ejecting...whew!)

I wish the Mac had both a trashcan (for actually deleting) and

even better, a picture of a pair of BBQ tongs (for extracting the disk).

Quote:>I suspect that metaphors are useful in keeping consistency.  But
>now Jonathan Grudin is about to present a paper in CHI 89 arguing about
>the foolishness of consistency: systems are often improved by
>violations.  Even the Lisa/Macintosh deliberately violated consistency
>principles when user testing showed it was better to do so.

Ralph Waldo Emerson:  "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of the
little mind."

Quote:>I do believe that we need overall consistency and a coherent mental
>model (system image) so we can better remember and derive the
>appropriate operations and better trouble shoot when things go wrong.

I think the goal is to develop symbology which matches the
user's intuitive expectations, to minimize errors and the learning
curve.  The gotches are that people have radically different internal
models sometimes, and that our intuitive expectations are not cast
in concrete - they are shaped by our experiences with tools we use.
But perhaps the biggest gotcha is that our internal models and our
intuitions are not always coherent or consistent in a rational sense,
so modelling them with coherent, consistent, rational systems won't
necessarily produce a good match!

Quote:>The Macintosh is superior in that it is easy to use most programs
>without any manuals.  But most of this results from "visibility": I
>can examine all the menu items and figure out what to do.  

This brings up something which systems designers sometimes overlook:
it takes alot of motivation on the part of the user to learn any model
which is not immediately either intuitive or visible.  For example, I
recently got myself an AT clone for personal use, and did a little
investigating to see what kind of word processing software to get.
There's a pretty wide range of prices ($0-$695) and some fairly
impressive capabilities in the larger packages.  But none of the
goodies were attractive enough to make me willing to learn Yet Another
Key Mapping (ctrl-alt-meta-sheesh!).  Windows Write has everything
in pull-down menus (like the Mac), and that won out over increased
functionality.  

How many tools (hardware, software, mechanical, electrical) go unused
on your system (or collect dust in your garage or attic) because the
benefits to be gained by learning the tools' model were just not
sufficient to offset the aggravation of learning it??

Andrea Frankel, Hewlett-Packard (San Diego Division) (619) 592-4664
                "...I brought you a paddle for your favorite canoe."
______________________________________________________________________________
UUCP     : {hplabs|nosc|hpfcla|ucsd}!hp-sdd!andrea


USnail   : 16399 W. Bernardo Drive, San Diego CA 92127-1899 USA

 
 
 

replacing the desktop metaphor (Why any metaphor?)

Post by M.HA » Sun, 02 Dec 1990 20:46:00


Don Norman writes (in part) -
 > I do believe that we need overall consistency and a coherent mental
 > model (system image) so we can better remember and derive the
 > appropriate operations and better trouble shoot when things go wrong.
 > ...       The main point is that we still understand this
 > surprisingly poorly.  Where consistency and metaphor and consistent
 > system images-mental models help and where they hinder is not yet
 > properly understood.

Perhaps we could start off with maps.  The computer isn't 2-D (but maybe
we are :), and we have to start with something we understand.  (Maybe
that was why the desktop metaphor works at all.)

Most of my kid's Nintendo games come with a map, and the old Adventure
game sure was easier with the map.  Driving to a new destination is
easier with a map, and those huge cases you see pilots carry are
chock full of maps (geographic, navigation aids, airport layouts, and
systems on the plane itself).  The circuitry of the computer has
maps, but I haven't yet seen any for complex "real" user interface.

To be useful, the maps must use a standardized notation system.  (Do
middle eastern maps have Mecca at the top?)  And, hopefully have names
and symbols that match the visual picture the user sees.  Names on
road signs match those on the maps (except in D.C. and Boston).

Robert Moses said that there is more traffic control in cans of paint
than all the electronic gadgets put together.  Where are the computer
equivalents of the double white line?  the "Exit 109, Red Bank" sign?
the "Ramp Speed 25 mph" sign?  the "No U Turn" sign?  the "MacDonalds
8 miles at Exit 13" sign?

Maps are:
1. inherently 2-D (the only way to make them cheaply),
2. much less than a full representation of reality,
3. much more of a representation than the user sees at any instant,
4. a language of communications.

Would it be worthwhile to investigate mapping techniques, notations,
names, and symbols for the user interface to computer systems?  I
think auto safety and usefulness was poor before the user aids came
into being.  Air traffic control is critically dependent on standards
in user presentations and maps.  The circuit development process is
linked by common notations in map-like diagrams.  And, I think there
are hundreds of other similar examples.

The Enterprise travels in a multi-dimensional universe ("Warp 9 if
you please, Mr. Sulu") and I assume they have maps somewhere to guide
them.  Shouldn't we have maps for our multi-dimensional computer
navigation, too?

   Mel Haas  ,  attmail!mel

 
 
 

replacing the desktop metaphor (Why any metaphor?)

Post by David Herron -- One of the vertebr » Sun, 02 Dec 1990 21:30:00



>How much research has actually gone into discovering what Joe Schmoe,
>small and medium sized business owner, wants on his desk?  Does he want
>a gas-plasma-wall-hanging-display unit and an infra-red-input-device?
>I find it very interesting that most of the messages here from developers
>and programmers, and there is NIL in the way of input from the end user.
...
>I'm also curious just what percentage of the end-user computing market
>the graphical interface has captured, and what their opinions of it are.
>After all, these computers *are* for "the rest of us."  I'm certainly not
>saying that computer programmers (read: non-end-users) should be limited
>to 80x24 text screens, it's just that from what I see, it's the programmers
>using the new hypermedia, and the (majority?) of users are left with their
>kludgy operating systems ans displays (?)  This user prefers a nice unix
>$ prompt, emacs, C, TeX (LaTex), and a vt100.  Then again, I'm not making
>millions of $$$ either.

I don't know how much of that kind of research has gone on, but how
might it be done in the first place?  You go around asking people
if they want mice & windows & such?  I don't think that'll work because
you'd get caught in the

        if all you have is a hammer all the world looks like a nail

problem.  That is, right now the common demoninator is an 80x24 screen
that you type commands at.  Oh and it's also PC-DOS, single tasking,
and so forth.

The hammer problem cuts both ways too ... the mouse & windows are not
the be-all-end-all of computer interfaces either.  My favorite example
is all the flight simulator programs we have nowadays.  How in the world
can someone fly an airplane with a keyboard of all things??  Or even worse,
a mouse??  Now, using a joystick is closer but still how to you change
the throttle?  Why by groping around on your keyboard while trying to
concentrate on flying.  Sorry, none of them work -- except maybe for that
one thing that's on display in the local computer store which is a
steering wheel and stuff, but it's hooked to an IBM-PC and I haven't
looked at it.

The thing I like about current workstations is that I've got a huge
screen.  I can easily have more than one thing going on and check on
progress without having to do to much work.  I can easily see huge
portions of whatever I'm working on at the time.

Take a look through the ads in current magazines.  See how all the
display manufacturers are touting these nifty new 132 column displays?
Someone's buying those things y'know.

There's a number of adages about people not understanding why you'd want
multi-tasking until they get a machine that does it.  Once they get used
to it they don't go back.

I was about to say that it's hard for people who haven't used something
to see usefullness in it, and that eventually innovations trickle down.

BUT ... a core question of computer science & interface design -- how in
the world do you find the best way for someone to do something.  Especially
when that persons job isn't one you do and that person doesn't have the
skill or training to develop his/her own solutions?
--


<-- Now I know how Zonker felt when he graduated ...
<--          Stop!  Wait!  I didn't mean to!

 
 
 

replacing the desktop metaphor (Why any metaphor?)

Post by Fred Holland » Sun, 02 Dec 1990 23:00:00




>My son is in high school.  He also uses vi and nroff without difficulty,
>so please spare me the flames about difficult to learn and use.  He's been
>using vi since the 5th grade.

>I never found the Mac (or other graphical and mouse) interfaces particularly
>intuitive.  The command-line interface doesn't leave you guessing which button
>to push how many times once you learn to finish commands with a carriage return

Typical Mac Word Processor:

        Find:   word    Replace With:   new-word

vi:

        ^[:.,$s/word/new-word/g

Can you tell which one is more intuitive?  Now, don't get me wrong.  I've used
vi since college and never had any problem with it, but I would never had
gotten started without a manual or a reference.  Simple yes.  Powerful yes.

four year old can use my Mac without help.  Don't tell me you son just sat
down and figured out vi (and NROFF!??).

Quote:

>       --Hal

Fred Hollander
Computer Science Center
Texas Instruments, Inc.

The above statements are my own and not representative of Texas Instruments.

 
 
 

replacing the desktop metaphor (Why any metaphor?)

Post by Brad Bro » Sun, 02 Dec 1990 02:34:00



>Don Norman writes (in part) -
> > I do believe that we need overall consistency and a coherent mental
> > model (system image) so we can better remember and derive the
> > appropriate operations and better trouble shoot when things go wrong.
> > ...
>Perhaps we could start off with maps?

Keep in mind a problem with maps.  Maps are intended to convey information
about (usually spacial) relationships between objects.  This implies that
the objects are connected in some way -- there is a highway between Waterloo
and Toronto, for instance, or connections between gate387 and outputport273
on a chip.  What is the 'common ground' that connects objects in most
programs?  In a word processor, is the delete function conceptually closer
to insert or save-file?

I bring these up because I have seen many products that attempt to 'map
out' the functions of the program in little charts that show you the
hierarchy of commands in menu systems -- surely a map of some kind...
I find these quite useless, and refer to functional groupings or indexes
instead.

Quote:>Maps are:
>1. inherently 2-D (the only way to make them cheaply),
>2. much less than a full representation of reality,
>3. much more of a representation than the user sees at any instant,
>4. a language of communications.

And maps describe relations in space.  I'm not sure how much 'space'
there is inside the computer to be mapped :-)  Where they might be more
handy is in navigating through large amounts of data.  For instance,
some layout systems have a mode where you can display a page 'greeked'
(shrunk so small you can't read the individual letters) so that you
can move to a new location at a glance.  I would like to see something
like this in word processors, combined with hypertext for outlining.
Something like this would also be useful for navigating through large,
linked drawings in a CAD system.

                                        (-:  Brad Brown  :-)

 
 
 

replacing the desktop metaphor (Why any metaphor?)

Post by Steve Frysinger of Blue Feather Fa » Sun, 02 Dec 1990 16:11:00


Quote:> My favorite example
> is all the flight simulator programs we have nowadays...
> ... Now, using a joystick is closer but still how to you change
> the throttle?  Why by groping around on your keyboard while trying to
> concentrate on flying.  Sorry, none of them work --

Actually, in all the planes I flew you changed the throttle by groping
around on the dash board, finding it amidst a whole bunch of other
controls. You quickly learned its position so that you could find it easily
without looking - a lot like touch typing.

I don't really have a point, except that the activities a metaphor
is copying may not be performed optimally themselves.  I don't think
tiller steering in horseless carriages ever became very popular -
in fact, tiller steering was subsequently dropped from boats too -
but think, for a moment, about how weird the concept of a steering
wheel is.  Why does the car go in the direction of the TOP
of the wheel and not the BOTTOM?  Hmmmm.

Steve Frysinger

 
 
 

1. Rooms reference (was: replacing the desktop metaphor )

An article describing the Rooms metaphor appeared in the July 1986 issue
of the ACM Transactions on Graphics:

        "Rooms: The Use of Multiple Virtual Workspaces to Reduce Space
         Contention in a Window-Based Graphical User Interface."

        D. Austin Henderson, Jr., and Stuart D. Card
        Xerox Palo Alto Research Center

        pages 211-243, ACM order number ACM 0730-0301/86/0700-0211 $00.75

That said...hasn't this drifted VERY far afield from comp.sys.next?  I think
vi v. MacWrite wars go somewhere very far away, if anywhere...

        ken seefried iii        ...!{akgua, allegra, amd, harpo, hplabs,


        "Memory is like an orgasm...it's better if you don't have to fake it."
                                        - Seymore Cray

2. MSN automatic dialing

3. replacing the desktop metaphor

4. my win98 is hesitating!

5. music composition (was replacing the desktop metaphor)

6. missing file

7. Completing tasks under the desktop metaphor

8. Client for Microsoft Networks on XP

9. Completing tasks under the desktop metaphor Where the mac really wins

10. Desktop metaphor

11. consistency and human learnability (was desktop metaphor)(long)

12. Desktop Metaphor/Xerox/Apple/HP/MS

13. New Multimedia Metaphors?