The desktop metaphor has many shortcomings and is generally inappropriate for an active reading machine. Describe these shortcomings and give scenarios that make your point.
Metaphors are used in computer interfaces in order to aid user to understand a new target domain by allowing them to comprehend it in terms of a source domain they understand [Baecker et al. 1995]. In order to generate useful metaphors, Erickson points to note what metaphors are already implicit in the problem description [Erickson 1990]. While for a system intended for the general work realized in an office a desktop metaphor seems a good option, it does not seem implicit in the problem description of an active reading machine. Most of the affordances [Preece et al. 1994] of a desktop would not be used and the human may be misled by the metaphor. Besides, the desktop metaphor is useful because of its affordances to organize and realize office tasks. Lets consider some of the often recognized affordances and characteristics of a desk.
In summary, a desk typically implies a static piece of furniture used for organizing documents. This is in the best case, an indirect support for an active reading machine, an still a composite metaphor would be required, since it would be very difficult to find real world objects that fit the desktop metaphor and represent intuitively the automated practices provided by active reading machine. For the problem domain of automating the practices associated with reading a metaphor that allows the user transfer knowledge from a similar domain about the actions and practices related with reading to the domain of an automated machine for those actions. One of the real world objects on which where text and graphics are most commonly printed is the paper. Next section presents the advantages of using a paper-based metaphor for an active reading machine.
Go to next section: Paper-Based Metaphor
Back to CPSC 610 Homework 2 page Back to CPSC 610 page