Oh What a Tangled Web We Weave: Metaphor and Mapping in Graphical Interfaces

Gaver, William. 1995. 'Oh What a Tangled Web We Weave: Metaphor and Mapping in Graphical Interfaces'. In: CHI '95. Denver, Colorado, United States. [Conference or Workshop Item]

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Abstract or Description

The relations among graphical representations, computer functionality, and everyday objects are more complex than terms like “the desktop metaphor” may suggest. While metaphors in the everyday world highlight similarities between preexisting entities, interface metaphors create new ones. New computer entities can also be created without metaphor, when existing elements are combined by conceptual structuring. Naming such constructs, however, may involve yet another metaphor, between the functionality suggested graphically and that implied by the name. In sum, interface representations – which can only be called “metaphors” metaphorically – are complex and confusing, but this leads to a flexibility and power that maybe lost if simpler mappings are used.

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)

Identification Number (DOI):



mapping, metaphor, semiotics

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Design > Interaction Research Studio



Event Location:

Denver, Colorado, United States

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

02 Dec 2015 12:48

Last Modified:

20 Jun 2017 13:58



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