Saturday, July 20, 2019
Signification of Icons in a Computer GUI :: Icons Symbols Essays
Signification of Icons in a Computer GUI In 1867 in his paper "On a New List of Categories", Charles Peirce said that there were three kinds of signs: icons, indices, and symbols. According to Thomas Sebeok "a sign is said to be iconic when there is a topological similarity between a signifier and its denotata". Icons are then something that resembles the object that they represent. That similarity between icon and object is fundamentally what sets icons apart from the other two kinds of signs. Indices do not have any similarity with their significants, but have a cause and effect relationship. Symbols do not have any direct relationship with an object other than the meaning that imposed or collectively agreed upon a group of humans. In this paper I want to reflect only on one of the three kinds of signs in Peirce triad. I have selected the icon for this discussion because this is currently one of the most common used and misunderstood terms in our society. One of the reasons for this phenomenon is the fact that some very particular pictures called icons have appeared in millions of computer screens around the world. These so called icons are the core elements of the concept called "graphical user interface" (GUI). The GUI is the computer industry's attempt to make personal computing a reality for every one. This virtual environment provides pictures that are suppose to be familiar and allows users to interact directly with them by virtue of a kinesthetic action like the movement of a mouse. This has proven to be a lot more appealing for a great amount of people as oppose to having to memorize and type verbal (symbolic) computer commands. Computer icons within a GUI are supposed to resemble some real object. The success of an icon on communicating the right meaning to the user depends on the accuracy of the representation and, of course, the user's ability to recognize the relationship. Notice that a computer system will have all kinds of signs built in to communicate with the user. Key words and sentences that provide instructions or alert the user of the status of the system are symbols. A user is considered computer literate when he or she can understand those symbols. Another way in which a computer system communicates with a user is by means of indices. When a system is turned on or off, a light that indicates the status of the system is an index.