SIGIA-L Mail Archives: Re: [Sigia-l] Conceptual models (again):
Re: [Sigia-l] Conceptual models (again): metaphors or categories?
From: PeterV (peter_at_poorbuthappy.com)
Date: Tue Apr 16 2002 - 17:58:05 EDT
thanks for your input.
I was more trying to find the difference between *mental models that use
categories* (what you talk about), and *mental models that use metaphors*
to explain how things work (the desktop, ...). The first type seems quite
useful in webdesign (as in: you use the labels your users use to organise
information). The second type doesn't seem that useful, or else I'm missing
Ziya, thanks as well :) I'm sure users have or create mental models
(they're alive after all), and I also suspect they don't create mental
models about the navigation (as in a previous discussion). And I think you
have a good point that maybe we can't really predict/influence these.
At 05:46 PM 4/16/2002 -0400, Thomas Vander Wal wrote:
>I don't know to what degree this will help you, but I ran into a similar
>issue and have used the following (still in rough form) as a seemingly
>helpful method of explaining to clients and others not germane to our world.
>I have been using the model/metaphor of attraction to explain to
>sub-clients how the mental model works in building categories. (I have a
>rough overview of the attraction model/metaphor on my site at
>http://www.vanderwal.net/essays/moa1.html ). I found clients glazing over
>when talking about mental models, but seemed to understand the attraction
>Essentially I explain to the client that the users have a set of terms
>they use to define the information they are seeking. Terms that are
>identical or seem to be close to the term in the users mind will attract
>the user to click to seek more information. The card sorting task is
>essentially users grouping items they believe are similar and would have a
>common attraction. A user would be attracted to certain terms (to
>varrying degrees) if it seemed like it would bring the information they
>wanted closer to their screen. Explaining to clients that categories are
>like magnetic rods that are points of attraction to not only the users,
>but also to the information and draw an attraction to related
>information. The rods pull the inforation to themselves when the user
>activates the rod by clicking on it. In this way pieces of information
>that have an attraction to more than one category rod could be found by
>more than one path.
>Xerox Parc did have very helpful information on information scent posted
>and information foraging, but seem to have restricted access to that
>information. These elements are similar but do not exend quite as far
>(i.e. the metaphor breaks and other metaphors have to be used to extend to
>understanding or explaining mental models or even out to Web Services).
>All the best,
>Thomas Vander Wal
>>trying to understand better how conceptual and mental models are used. I
>>found Don Norman's description quite useful:
>>I also had a look at Adaptivepath's deliverables, where the mental model
>>they describe is about how the user organizes or *categorizes* the tasks.
>>Does anyone have examples or stories about how they describe/use mental
>>models of users when building websites? The Adaptivepath approach (as
>>described in their deliverables) focusses on grouping tasks, finding
>>*categories* that users use. I'm wondering about much of the Xerox parc
>>work, where it's more about *metaphors* users use, like here
>>So how do metaphors and categories fit in together in this whole mental
>>model thing? I can think of examples (almost any website I've done) where
>>finding categories that users use makes sense, but metaphors is another
>>story... Any reading material / ideas?
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: Sun Nov 23 2003 - 22:55:09 EST