Re: Do we need a common visual metaphor?

Tortoise (
Sat, 11 Jun 1994 16:47:53 -0400 (EDT)

On Fri, 10 Jun 1994, Peter Kennard wrote:

> No doubt commonly understood elements in *any* medium are the
> esscence of it's ability to be part of a human language. Whether we *need*
> to *impose* one on anybody is really to get a little out of our domain.
> Suggest might be the more appropriate ideal. Trash cans in *reality* have
> come to look a certain way. An umbrella stand that looks like a trash can
> is likely to be confusing and get filled with trash proving somewhat
> unuseful or inconvenient. Most people will then likely get something that
> suggests it's purpose. Even so we are dealing with a new set of industrial
> design problems and there is likely to be a multiplicity of forms and
> possible design solutions for just about every purpose. What is needed is a
> stable lower level set of abilities that many many competing minds
> can make use of. They can all design their own way to do things and trade
> them with others because of the standard. The inclination of people is to
> use what they understand and can discuss with others -- naturally leading to
> a benevolent evolution of design forms and metaphor just as it has in
> the real world.

I feel a bit timid jumping in here sicne I have no qualifications
or anything besides bieng a net-junkie and amateur programmer, BUt I
wanted to comment on this thread.
I used to be an avid RPG fan(pre-net days) and in most of the RPGs
styled on the "cyberpunk" and "cyberspace" genre they dealt with the same
issues here when designing what they felt tobe a system usable for play
amonsgt people. Granted it is not as complex as providing an effective
interface to users, but it does bring up some good ideas. One of them is
to have a standard for particular items, BUT allowthese standards to be
superseded by those who wish to customize thier set-up. So a ASCII page
would appear the same on almost all systems, but it would be mutable on
those that wanted to make it more fiting to their application and
"atmosphere". I am not sure how you would work this out between client
and server, but maybe you could have the client contain the info neccesary
to autmatically call up the default icon for an item, BUT if the server
wanted to it could define that item itself. This of course would result
is systems that were "sculpted" needing mroe space and larger bandwidth to
be as effective as the ones that used the default icon. So when I query
the serv3er it will tell me there are so many of these items in this
position etc.. etc.. and the client would draw the defaut icon for those
items in their respective positions, unless it is given specific
instructions to accept a custom definition of their appearance.