[ubuntu-art] Bad visual metaphors

Alex Jones alex at weej.com
Thu Mar 1 01:49:10 GMT 2007

Hi list

I've noticed a number of outdated, worrying or inconsistent visual
metaphors that show up in Ubuntu. I don't have solutions, only trying to
see if anyone else has and maybe start a discussion. Sorry!

     1. "Save." Nobody uses floppy disks anymore! We need an updated
        metaphor, even if it's just some stupid abstract symbol that
        doesn't really represent something in the real world - as long
        as one can grow to associate it consistently with committing
        something semi-permanently to disk, that's OK in my book!
     2. "Computer". Generally, this visual metaphor is dominated by a
        big honking great widescreen LCD monitor. This would be a much
        better metaphor for a display! How about an icon of an actual
        computer, sans-keyboard and display?
     3. "Network"/"Internet". Even worse, two computer displays with
        really oldskool looking pipes connecting them! As with the save
        one, this is a commonly re-used concept, i.e. it is incorporated
        into many other icons - music shares, remote administration, web
        browser, NetworkManager applet, etc. I do think that the
        "Internet" icon, with the globe and some noticable flashing
        lines going across it is a brilliant idea, and it's a shame it's
        not re-used anywhere I can tell. For example, a better HTML
        document icon could be a page with this globe superimposed on it
        like an emblem. A better Web Browser icon could be this globe
        with a page superimposed on it, again like an emblem. I guess
        these two ideas are the reciprocal of each other. :)
     4. Cut/Copy/Paste. We just nicked these off everyone else, and I'm
        not convinced they're particularly intuitive (neither in name
        nor in visuals), but that could be somewhat controversial.

Of course, I don't mean to offend anyone by these comments. Just trying
to be constructive. :)
Alex Jones

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