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Desktop Metaphor July 11, 2006

Posted by Michael McVey in Online Tools.
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desktop   George Lakoff in his book, Don’t Think of an Elephant, reminds us that issues and debates on the political front are won and lost in the way you define the frame of your discussion. Many of our behaviors are the result of reactions to a particular frameset in which we find discussions moving.

This resonated with me yesterday when I read that my computer desktop was a WIMP. Of course, I read on to discover that WIMP is an acronym for a desktop that had Windows, Icons, Menus, and Pointers. The desktop metaphor is the conceptual model that ties the elements of WIMP together.

There is a new movement afoot to change this metaphor and make the desktop much more like a real desktop with ‘piles’ of documents that could be stacked into neat or messy piles, organized instantly, crumpled and held just prior to deleting them, and engage in many features common in the physical world.

By grabbing a file you can flick it across the desktop to reside with others so that it actually appears to skid to a stop and bump into the other files. You can also lasso your files with this new graphical user interface and stack them, sort them and flip through them with ease.

For a great movie about the new developments, watch http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M0ODskdEPnQ. I wonder if there are other metaphors that work for organizing our notes and documents that are as efficient as the desktop metaphor.

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