[ubuntu-art] Bad visual metaphors

Brett Burton burtonbe at cox.net
Thu Mar 1 22:59:45 GMT 2007

Hash: SHA1

Hi Alex,

Alex Jones wrote:

>      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!
Check out the Tango icon for saving a document:

I use the default Tango theme, but ironically I hate that save icon. I
guess I've just gotten so used to associating a floppy disk with "save"
that the "arrow to disk" just doesn't click for me. :-P

>      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?
The only problem with this is that the icon would be yet another
box/cube. People could be easily confused if it was not done properly.
Is it just me, or does "keyboard/monitor" not instantly associate with

>      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. :)

What do you think about those? Are they in the ballpark?

>      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.
What change do you propose?

I like your ideas, but some things are just so ingrained from years of
using computers and their associated bad metaphors that change is
extremely painful.

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