8. A critical look at the desktop metaphor 30 years on

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The Desktop Metaphor (henceforth DM) was born in the late 1970s, when members of the research group working on the Apple Lisa project used the term ‘desktop’ to define a new graphical user interface between humans and computers. We trace the evolution of this interface under the twin constraints of the technology available at the time and the ever expanding target user group. Specifically, we propose a series of four multi-modal blends and analyse the conceptual processes by which each successive blend builds on previous ones and further combines them with new conceptual domains, leading up to today’s virtual desktop. Finally, we critically assess the impact of the DM on the quality of human-computer interaction, from an intra- and a cross-cultural perspective.


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