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Thomas Weaver

Bio: Thomas Weaver is an academic researcher. The author has an hindex of 1, co-authored 1 publications receiving 1 citations.

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TL;DR: In this special issue of Visible Language, Visual Metaphors, the role of metaphor and the authors' various understanding's of metaphor are discussed and Articles are introduced revealing their particular foundational position with regard to metaphor.
Abstract: Introducing this special issue, Visual Metaphors, the role of metaphor and our various understanding's of metaphor are discussed. Articles are introduced revealing their particular foundational position with regard to metaphor. The array of information applications covered by authors in this issue is broad, from italic type to nutrition diagrams, from computer interface to designers' abstraction processes. Examples with analyses regarding abstraction and reference are all part of the investigation. The increasing complexity of the world around us is reflected in the increasing complexity of our communication with this world. Finding our ways in complex surroundings, installing and using more and more complex technological products, software and services, traveling and interacting more and more internationally, meanwhile getting less and less direct personal help-it has all created massive quantities of instructions, from tooltips to guided tours to interactive tutorials to safety instruction cards to wayfinding signage systems. Complexity and communication only seem to increase more rapidly than ever, and there is no reason to believe that it will get less in the near future. Increasing complexity of the world around us not only implies increasing quantities of information; it also implies increasing complexity of the communication. Technical phrases, color-coded drawings, multimedia presentation, higher levels of abstraction, more symbolism, more metaphoric communication-all possibilities are applied to get the difficult messages across. Micro-electronics forced instructional graphic design to make giant leaps. Because of nternationalization, distant marketing, increase of functionalities per device, together with miniaturization of the devices and displays, verbal language can often not be applied or may not be the most efficient way to communicate. As a consequence, we see the application of visuals, instructive pictures, schemas, signs, icons, visual symbols and other visual tools, all part of a visual instructive language which is supposed to be understood internationally. Such visuals may be thought of as just direct representations of reality. But of course they are not. Every visual-however realistic-is an interpretation or abstraction of the reality it depicts. A photo may be only a selection of reality-and further be completely realistic. But technical drawings, pictograms, icons, schemas and other visualizations are always interpretations and abstractions from reality. In our view, metaphors are a specific type of abstraction and when we started conceptualizing this special issue of Visible Language, we thought of metaphors as abstractions in the ancient, traditional, literary way: a metaphor describes one thing in terms of another. That enables us to grasp abstract concepts, for instance the complex technological problems which we are confronted with when using modern electronic devices. Such metaphors are omnipresent in user interfaces of electronic devices, software, way signage systems, etc. We all know the famous examples: the wastebasket on the computer screen that indicates that we throw away a document or a program or whatever from the computer hard disk by dragging the icon into the wastebasket. Some may remember the only interesting alternative: the black hole on the NeXT computer. By far the most used-but rarely mentioned visual metaphor-is the arrow to indicate direction (see figures 1, 2 and 4). Another nice metaphor in the strict sense is the bird's feather on a gas pedal in a car to indicate: 'drive carefully' (see figure 3); the idea can be seen in various other car manuals. Metaphors in the wider, but still literary sense, figures of speech, are for example the pars pro toto (a kind of metonymy) (figure 5), a euphemism (figure 6). On the edge of being a metaphor in its widest meaning may be for instance the anacoluthon (figure 7)-if the anacoluthon can be a figure of speech at all. …

1 citations