Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Leaky Abstractions

A new phone system was installed at my place of employment recently. It has, in the modern style, no functions which are labeled in text. Instead, there are icons.
There are red and green LED lights as well- they blink on and off- who knows what they signify- Christmas? The icons are meant to be abstractions of the functions, I think, although I am not really sure. There is an old-time announcer's microphone pictured next to one button, I thought it was for paging, but no, there is some other button for that (which I couldn't find.) Perhaps it's for singing? There is also an ominous red button with a phone handset printed on its top; I think that must be the hot line for calling Moscow in case of a nuclear attack. It does have a caller ID screen, thank goodness that display is in text, so I can avoid calls I don't want to take. Once my name was on it; I started having a Lost Highway flashback. The icon that really creeps me out is the "floppy disk" for files on PCs. (On Vista even!) Why not have a gramophone for mp3 files? Or a buggy whip for a cursor? A wax seal for "save as"?

I'm going to have a theme party, where everyone can come as an outdated or ambiguous icon. We'll party like it's 1999 1899.

By Professor Batty


Blogger Darien Fisher-Duke said...

Hmmm. I need to think about changing my layout so that the display is wide like yours. Nice for pictures, nice for text. Nice.

Blogger Shoshanah Marohn said...

I shop (or used to shop) at a local grocery store that suddenly moved everything around and then replaced all of the words on the signs for the aisles with those strange icons. They had an ice cream cone for the ice cream aisle, and that was pretty near all I could figure out. I stood, frozen, perplexed, and ended up buying about half the stuff I needed. I'm glad I'm not the only one who finds this whole icon thing completely puzzling!

Blogger lab munkay said...

Let me kmow when the red and green both start flashing so I know when to send out my cards and put the tree up eh.

Blogger Professor Batty said...

Rose ~ I'm at 900 pixels wide, most displays can handle that (although I've never see it on a phone).

My sidebar is 200 pixels, with everything floating to the right margin. I haven't figured out how to do that with the new Blogger templates (or whatever it is they call them) so I've stuck with the old.

I really don't care for the Wordpress and Typepad formats, I couldn't get them wide enough...

CD ~ I've got a $1400 camera outfit and I don't understand half the Icons on it!

Blogger Professor Batty said...

Lab Munkay ~ maybe the red button is a direct line to Santa?

Post a Comment