On metaphors in UI

A snippet from a reply I made on the ixda list awhile back re: some import/export metaphors in the UI…

Aren’t all metaphors inherently “broken”? In the sense that no metaphor is 100% verisimilitude, but a language device to achieve a necessary, yet sufficient level of understanding to basically grok a concept, make it just *meaningful* enough to act on it given a certain context and situation. (and overcome difficulties in interpretation, as a sense-making device). I can’t move real office windows around, i normally don’t duplicate physical files and folders with a finger stroke, and animal mice don’t have buttons. But i know through learned behavior, observation and cultural convention the computer “equivalents” work in specific ways (and evolve over time, like “spring loaded” folders and “wheel mice”) and mean certain things.

(More on language & design in the chapter I wrote for Jon Kolko’s book “Thoughts on Interaction Design”)

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