The Mythical Dream Interface

Introduction

There are two main world views, each with its own paradigm or underlying set of fundamental assumptions about the world. The dominant world view is the scientific one, which emphasizes objectivity and the importance of group experiences. The emerging world view emphasizes subjectivity and the importance of personal intuition and creativity. The emerging world view is changing our values and the way we work. It is creating new roles for technical communicators. This document explores one of these emerging roles—the role of a technical communicator in user interface design.

All our endeavors involve the use of language and we need to use the language appropriate to the endeavor. Rational language forms are essential tools for developing and improving what has already been found or invented. However, they cannot be used to find or invent anything new. What is needed in the enterprise of the new is a vision of what could be. This vision comes from within and is expressed in rhetorical language forms.

The language-based interface design method presented in this document relies upon the personal intuition and creativity of someone who is competent in both language and technology—the province of a technical communicator.

In this document I explore the use of myth and metaphor, in relationship to the rhetorical theory of Ernesto Grassi, and then apply my discoveries to the analysis and redesign of a computer interface. The ideas presented are still being formed but hopefully they are sufficiently formed to be useful to you. The document is also intended to reflect the developmental nature of my thoughts with the intent of involving you in the “knowing in process” within me.