Metaphor Introduction


·       Metaphor is an integral part of human cognitive function


·       Metaphor in language (English)


Many English expressions make use of metaphor. For example don’t waste time (MONEY as a metaphor for TIME), he often gets hot under the collar (HEAT as a metaphor for ANGER), I see your point (SIGHT as a metaphor for UNDERSTANDING). The list is virtually endless.


·       Metaphor is in fact a very complicated topic, encompassing cognitive psychology, philosophy, linguistics and literary theory.


·       According to [Treglown], the use of metaphor in HCI is not well understood. This applies all the more to metaphor in virtual environments (VEs).


·       Simple definition of metaphor [Preece+]: A metaphor is a way of understanding a new environment by seeing it in the context of a well known environment.


·       (Somewhat more formal) According to [Lakoff] a metaphor is a mapping from a source ICM (Idealised Conceptual Model) to a target ICM.

·       In HCI metaphor is studied mostly in the context of interface metaphor.


·       The most well known example of this is the “Desktop” metaphor. The interface to the computer is seen as a desktop.


·       A command shell presents a verbal, rather than visual metaphor – the “Conversation” metaphor