This paper addressed the metaphorical entailments of the Glass Cast prototype, a visualization interface designed to track the mobilization of particular concepts along time and across disciplines. The use of metaphors as resources to convey meaning has been generally established (e.g. Lakoff and Johnson, 1980; Turbayne, 1991), and metaphor’s relevance as an heuristic for interface design conditionally proven (e.g. Barr, P., Biddle, R., & Noble, J., 2002), most noticeably after the launch of the first Graphical User Interfaces. Moreover, scholars such as Barr et. al. (2002) have theorized the role of metaphor in the conveyance of meaning in user interfaces, within which metaphors may inform everything from navigation to the visual representation of processes. Despite ongoing theorization of the affordances of metaphor as a conveyor of meaning and functionality, in interface design, the persuasive element of metaphor tends to be overlooked. The persuasiveness of metaphor has instead been engaged largely in the fields of graphic design for communicative and marketing purposes (Ehses, H., & Lupton, E., 1988). In the realms of graphic design, visualizations have been used as a genre for conveying the reliability of scientific and numeric information, to a point where it is relatively common to find visual references to representations of abstract information, such as maps or graphs. This suggests that the metaphors that structure visualizations often reinforce their persuasive appeal. In this paper, we present an analysis of the functional metaphorical entailments of the Glass Cast interface, taking into consideration its persuasive appeal as well. Specifically, the paper will explore the extent to which the metaphor of the “Glass Cast” engages users, making them more susceptible to conceptual information structured and mapped in this way.
The full text of this conference paper can be found here.