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Copyright and Patents [4]

1. Copyright
2. 27 September 2000 and build 384
3. 10 July 2001 and build 401
4. 13 December 2001 meaning and action
5. 3 February 2002 4D interface and 4D space

13 December 2001 meaning and action

Meaning is in the mind. A word means something to a person. The same word may mean a different thing to a different person (or if presented in a different context).

Tasks and actions are understood in terms of cause and effect. An effect is intended by an action, that is, there is a goal which the action is intended to achieve. Tasks are actions under a different description. Tasks and actions also have meaning only in the mind, although their repercussions will be in the physical world, as the instantiation of the (mental) intention.

Computers are usually a means to an end. Users mostly do not want to use computers, it is merely that todays technology is a suitable instrument for effecting a goal. Users want the goal and think in terms of the goal.

A common way of using computers is to have them present a metaphor for a task, action, activity, object or whatever to a user, to assist the user in achieving a goal - the metaphor allows the user to distinguish tasks, objects etc from one another within the overall scheme that is presented by the computer by promoting particular metaphoric features which attach to the computer presentation and also mean something to the user.

Typical media for computer metaphors are sounds and images, although touch and smell are also used and in some cases feedback assists user interaction (as with cursor and mouse movement, and feedback joysticks).

3D objects and space add to the richness of the metaphor, and can stand for actions, tasks and meanings in the mind of a user (regardless of how e.g. an action or its goal is to be achieved).

Hence these 3D objects represent ideas in the mind of a user as a natural extension of the well etablished notion of the metaphor. An interface composed of such objects represents a set of ideas in the user mind, regardless of how meaning, task or action takes hold in the physical world. Indeed meaning, action and task may take hold in the world in different ways on different days (as in the principle of polymorphism, or according to available physical means, or user context, or whim). The one thing which is constant and reliable in the metaphor is what it means to a specific user - what is in the user mind.

Indeed not only is it beyond the knowledge of many users how in general such interfaces act on [and in] the world, but also these meanings, tasks and actions are explained by merely redescribing the user intention at some other level of description (or abstraction or sub-task) which redescribes some part of the physical world in terms of the task or action or meaning which the user has in mind. I.e. the metaphor runs all the way down, even for savvy users.

The role of media content (sounds, images, interactions etc) is to stimulate meaning in the user mind. To be useful to the user, meaning is in terms of user goals. The user is the author of his or her goals and precise meaning is unique to an ocassion (a matter of psychology).

The role of media content is thereby to stimulate thought/ideas in the user; to remind the user of ideas and their relative organisation or relevance, and to help the user achieve this conceptual organisation. To inform by representing ideas and to provide a way of focussing user attention on one or other user-meaningful task, action, activity, object, process etc.

13 December 2001 (c) Copyright EiDoxis Limited 2001

Addendum 17 March 2002

Re: "metaphor runs all the way down, even for savvy users" the most savvy users are programmers. Experienced programmers are familiar with the technique known as top-down stepwise refinement, which does just this - it breaks down a high level user-terminology metaphor into constituent sub-metaphors.

Top-down stepwise refinement delivers abstractions of the user view appropriate to some particular level of program operation.

17 March 2002 (c) Copyright EiDoxis Limited 2001



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