The Computer Kingdom:
Using the Government Metaphor
A proposition of a metaphor for an Agency Environment relying in AGENTS and CRITTERS.
- Agency is about delegating. The metaphor and representation must afford delegating.
- Delegating is something that occurs naturally in most governments in societies. Even in primitive societies, there is a concept of labor division.
- Global Considerations.
In order to provide a metaphor that would allow the broadest kind of users through out
the world, I looked for concepts that would be common to all the people. While there are
great differences between all the different societies in the world, the concept of
government is probably one that is present in almost all societies.
- The Monarchy.
Government has been implemented in very different ways through out the world and has
changed notoriously through out history. Nevertheless one way of government that has been
used in different cultures (each one with its one particular fashion) is the monarchy.
Kings dress different and act different, but the concept of an individual ruler is very
similar in all the cultures. This is way I chose to use the monarchy as the theme for the
design of my icons.
- Cultural Portability.
In order to adapt the metaphor to a different culture, it is possible to have different
sets of icons, such that the representation matches the way different cultures would see a
government. Coherent names and labels for the icons would also be required. For example we
could have a Democracy where instead of the king we would use a President.
- Controlling and Administrating.
Controlling and administrating are functions of any government. This affordance of the
metaphor maps very well with the concept of controlling and administrating the System.
This also puts the user in the driving seat, and helps to avoid the feeling of being controlled by the machine.
- Composite Metaphor.
By this I mean that even though the main metaphor it could be combined with other
metaphors to provide a suitable set of representations for all the functionality.
This concept is not new. One example is the use of the scroll bars in the desktop metaphor.
The Computer Kingdom:
UI Entity for Controlling Agents and Critters.
In the Computer Kingdom you are the absolute ruler, the King.
You are capable of controlling everything in the kingdom. In order to aid you in your every
desire, you have a all your Knights at your service ready to execute all
your commands! The Knight are your AGENTS. Every Knight is capable of carrying out complex
commands with the help of their Servants. The Servants are the Critters
in the system. They carry out simpler tasks. Servants are under the orders of Knights. The
different information you want to mapped geographically through out your kingdom. You can
decide on how to geographically organize every thing in your country to accommodate your
needs and desires. After all, you are the king!
KNIGHTS: your Agents
Your Knights or Agents will organize the work for you, by commanding a work force of Servants.
Every Knights has a Shield with his Emblem. Only Knights have Shields and Emblem.
This is how you identify a Knight.
One example of an Agent is the Anti Virus Knight. This Knight is in charge of keeping your kingdom virus free.
Other example is to command your Documentation Knight to help you with the creation, edition and administration of any document.
Servants: The Critters of Computer Kingdom
The servants realize simpler tasks than the Knights.
They can serve exclusively a particular Knight or they can serve different Knights.
It is also possible that more than one instance of a critter to exist.
When ever you consider proper you can drag Servants under a Knight to allow the Knight the use of them.
The Calculator Servant.
The Documentation Knight uses this Servant when ever some calculations are required to be performed and no special tool of application is necessary.
The Editor Servant.
He can serve different Knights. The Documentation Knight is one who commands it.
It is in charge of calling the appropriate tool or application when the Knight commands it.
The Killing Servant.
Serves the Anti-Virus Knight. Destroys the virus found.
The Cleaner Servant.
He serves different Knights. He cleans the object his Knight commands him to clean. This could mean to clean a Window, a Document or other object.
The Searching Servant.
He also serves different Knights. He search within the objects specified the object of set of objects desired by his Knight.
The Graph Maker Servant.
This Servant makes and analyzes graphs according to the instructions of his Knight.