[ubuntu-art] Bad visual metaphors

Alex Jones alex at weej.com
Fri Mar 2 00:54:46 GMT 2007

On Fri, 2007-03-02 at 00:32 +0100, Lapo Calamandrei wrote:
> 2007/3/1, Alex Jones <alex at weej.com>:
> [SNIP]
> >      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!
> I think the same, in tango after some discussion was choosed to use
> the hd + arrow which may not be the best metaphor, but it's better
> then the obsolete floppy.
> >      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?
> Icons needs to be as clear as possible and a pretty anonymous box may
> not be so clear

True. Unfortunately, due to the angle in Human and Tango, it really does
just look like a monitor (keyboards sit flat, of course!), especially at
small sizes.

> >      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. :)
> I'm not a great fan of the globe metaphor, even that one is overused
> as well as the two computers.

The basic globe that we see, with, for example, the Epiphany icon, is
indeed a bad metaphor. The difference between this (blue) globe and the
one used for the Internet category in the Applications menu (orange) is
that the orange one has stuff streaking across it, it represents data
being transferred all over the world. Do you still think this is a bad
reusable metaphor?
Alex Jones

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