Semiotics and GUI Design

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Is excessive realism in GUI Design helpful or harmful?

[ For one thing, the complexity of programming many GUI interfaces protects entrenched companies -- GUI programs, when built from scratch, require much greater capital expenditure before launching a new product than did character-based DOS or UNIX applications. More importantly, when users are only supposed to be aware of a "realistic" illusion of a desktop, and not of the computer itself, then they are fully at the mercy of the computer elite, completely reliant on experts when something goes wrong. The proponents of these "air-tight" interfaces often use cars as an analogy, claiming that "you don't have to be a mechanic to drive." True, but if your livelihood depends on a motor vehicle then you'd better know something about what's under the hood, or you'll find yourself at the mercy of fast-talking used-car dealers, unscrupulous mechanics, and breakdowns on deserted highways. A great painter doesn't forget canvas, brush, and paint, but fully integrates her knowledge of them with her abstract ideas to create art. Similarly, it is important for a computer artist to remember that it is a computer he is working on ]

very interesting article publised almost 10 years ago, strongly based on Andersen's
Theory of Computer Semiotics

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