Metaphor’s Role in the Information Behavior of Humans Interacting with Computers

Robin Sease


Metaphors convey information, communicate abstractions, and help us understand new concepts. While the nascent field of information behavior (IB) has adopted common metaphors like “berry-picking” and “gap-bridging” for its models, the study of how people use metaphors is only now emerging in the subfield of human information organizing behavior (HIOB). Metaphors have been adopted in human–computer interaction (HCI) to facilitate the dialogue between user and system. Exploration of the literature on metaphors in the fields of linguistics and cognitive science as well as an examination of the history of use of metaphors in HCI as a case study of metaphor usage offers insight into the role of metaphor in human information behavior.

Editor’s note: This article is the winner of the LITA/Ex Libris Writing Award, 2008.

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