Interface Metaphors Which Are Out Of Date

Today I was reading a book on UI design in order to prepare for a project I will be doing in a few months which will live or die by its UI. It stresses, as other books in the past have, about metaphors. The most famous metaphore is the Desktop Metaphor. Wikipedia describes it as follows:

The desktop metaphor treats the monitor of a computer as if it is the user’s desktop, upon which objects such as documents and folders of documents can be placed.

However, it occurs to me that interface metaphors which relate to previous ‘ways of doing things’ might soon go out of date. For instance, younger people now will not have seen VCR or cassette players. I’ve personally never seen a card index file system and other methods of manual storage. I’ve never actually used a filing cabinet either!

Another example of a metaphor which may not be seen very often in the real world might be a compass, as GPS devices can show maps in the direction that you are facing. Ledger books, polaroid photos, and physical address books (I even have to specify ‘physical’ now) could all go the same way.

So, when choosing a user interface metaphor, might we need to think if the youngest generation of computer users will resonate with it?

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