Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Looking all day at things we don't remember

My father-in-law once got frustrated with his Mac because he didn't know what the hell the hard drive icon was. I explained to him that the drawing of a rectangular aluminum box was a hard drive. He said "How would I know that?"

What happens when the icons in our computers are only of things we've never seen. This word processing program has the image of a 3 1/4" "floppy" disk for the save function. No one uses floppy disks any more. Those 3 1/4" disks weren't even floppy. Who knows what that is? My Mac has a magnifying glass in the corner for the Spotlight search. I know what it is. In my house growing up, we had the compact OED, which has crazy small type and comes with a magnifying glass. How many kids still handle magnifying glasses?

Magnifying something in my life means clicking the zoom icon (a magnifying glass) in a program. I no longer think of a thing that you hold above small type, or over paper or ants (I didn't do the ants thing more than once, I think), but of an image you click. 

As less and less of our lives become digital, we stop using physical objects, and lose the sources of the metaphors for our digital lives.

1 comment:

Dave Soup said...

i was just thinking about that the other day: some app, can't remember which now, had a "save" icon of a zip disc! Wha?