Metaphors make use of the existing knowledge from the way people did things prior to accomplish things in a new environment. The idea is to use metaphors to reuse prior knowledge. For example, the computer telephone. Knowing how to use phone will quickly understand how to use it. On the one hand, using smart phone helps people understand how to use the computer phone the first time, on the other hand, we are sacrifice a lot of efficiency. Another example is a trash can. Whether the trash can is permanently cleaned up is a metaphor.

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It has been found that the aspects of a system that match the metaphor are learned quickly, but those that don’t take a lot longer. It can be a double edged sword (ex. typewriter vs word processor). All the situations where there’s a mismatch between original task and new task are very difficult to pick up with many misconceptions.

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Contributed by Jason Thong, Xiao Zhang, and Deedee Jiang 

About the author: Jason Thong

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